Stanford 's NCAA Tournament run should buy coach Johnny Dawkins two more years
03/28/2014 10:49:26 AM PDT
03/28/2014 10:49:26 AM PDT
Action: Stanford exists the NCAAs with 82-72 loss to Dayton in Sweet 16. Reaction I: Tells you something about Kansas without Joel Embiid. Reaction II: The Cardinal was on its heels from the start, a development that stood in contrast to its role as aggressor against New Mexico and Kansas. The 11th-seeded Flyers had more energy, more tenacity and did a superb job spreading the court and beating Stanford's man-to-man off the dribble. When the Cardinal went zone, Dayton attacked smartly and aggressively. I can't help but think the experience playing against the Syracuse zone last weekend helped Dayton prepare for the Cardinal. Reaction III: Stanford won't win many games when Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown are a combined 6 of 26 -- unless Dwight Powell plays at a truly dominant level (and he didn't). Add the lack of bench support (two points), and the Cardinal simply wasn't efficient enough offensively. Reaction IV: The ultimate difference was Dayton's grit -- and Stanford's inability to match it. I'm thinking in particular of two sequences that combined to have significant impact on the outcome. The first came when Stefan Nastic had the ball ripped from his grasp and committed his fourth foul trying to reclaim possession. The second came when Dayton hustled for an offensive rebound that turned into the baseline drive that resulted in Nastic's fifth foul. He was Stanford's best option offensively (15 pts in 20 minutes), and those two sequences -- both the result of Dayton's grit and hustle -- landed him on the bench for most of the final 15. Then again, if Nastic is clearly your best option down the stretch in a Sweet 16 game, that's problematic. He has become a capable post player, to his complete credit. But Randle, Brown and Powell -- especially Powell, with his advantage in size and length -- need to carry the load in a game like that. Reaction V: And so ends another Stanford season, this one more successful than the previous five. Johnny Dawkins secured his return for 2014-15 by reaching the NCAAs, and my belief is that the run to the Sweet 16 likely bought Dawkins a second year (2015-16) under athletic director Bernard Muir. That he has evolved as a coach over the past two or three years is indisputable. (A few years ago, he tried to jam round pegs into square holes. Now, he makes the holes rounder.) Are two NCAA wins proof that he can take Stanford to the top tier of the Pac-12 and fill the empty seats in Maples Pavilion? No. Is he the best Stanford can do? Difficult to know. I'm curious what the reaction to recent developments is among the Stanford faithful ... if there even is a reaction.