Johnny Dawkins’ tenure as the Stanford basketball head coach has been a disappointment. Chalk it up as a mix of high expectations coming from the Coach K coaching tree and a lack of results at a program with a rich hoops tradition.
Dawkins’ five years at the university have been defined by mediocrity, with the Cardinal posting a 93-73 record with no NCAA tournament appearances (but one NIT title!). The team hasn’t even been ranked in the AP top 25 once during that time.
The Cardinal achieved a bland 18-14 record this season after its first-round exit from the Pac-12 tourney this week and appears a virtual lock to miss the dance once again, making this the longest stretch the school has gone without playing in the NCAA tournament since 1989. (The team could be given the chance to defend their NIT title from last season. Shoutout to consolation tournaments!)
But things look up for Nerd Nation next season with All-Pac-12 first-team selection Dwight Powell one of four starters returning next season. It’s just as good a time as any for Dawkins to have his team break through the mediocrity barrier that’s delineated his time in Palo Alto.
And based on remarks by Stanford AD Bernard Muir, pressure is reaching a tipping point as Dawkins enters his sixth year leading the program. From Jeff Faraudo:
“Johnny’s coming back,” Muir said. “Johnny and I talked throughout the course of the season. We clearly have set the expectation that we want to be playing this time of the season next year.
“We want to be playing for a (conference) championship. We think we have the caliber of kids who can do that. And we want to play in the NCAA (tournament). The goal has always been and will not change: We want to play well into March on the grand stage of March Madness.
“There’s a clear expectation that we can do that next year.”
Asked if Dawkins was given a mandate to reach the NCAA tournament next season or face losing his job, Muir said, “Next year is a critical year for us. We’ve now had ample time for him to really get us to take that next step.”
The seat for the Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball has never been hotter.