Stanford Week: A State Of the Program Address

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 22nd, 2012

We’ve been all around the Stanford program in the past week, but we’ve got time for one more post. At the end of every week we like to take a step back and look at the overall state of the program – not just how the team performed last year or is expected to perform next year, but what the long-term prognosis for the program is. At Stanford, while the short-term future appears to be bright (no pun intended), things could take a turn for the worse quickly. As we pointed out earlier this week, before current head man Johnny Dawkins took over in 2008-09, the Cardinal had made 13 out of the last 14 NCAA Tournaments. They haven’t gone dancing since, but the pieces are there to make it back soon enough. The problem in the past four seasons have been mid-season losing streaks. Not only do they usually kill all excitement around the team, but it ruins any chance at gaining an at-large entry into the Big Dance. Let’s take a look at some of these mid-season collapses:

This Photo May Have Been Taken Prior To The 2008-09 Season, But It’s A Scene That Fans Have Seen Many Times In The Past Four Years (credit: Roundball Nuts)

  • 2011-12 : Started out the season 15-3, including double-figure victories against Colorado State and Oklahoma State. Then immediately dropped five of their next six, all by double figures.
  • 2010-11 : It wasn’t going to be an NCAA Tournament year anyway, but dropping five out of seven games from early January to early February put all postseason dreams to rest.
  • 2009-10 : The Cardinal lost five of six games from late January to mid-February, putting a footnote on Dawkins’ worst season on the Farm.
  • 2008-09 : By far the worst collapse of Dawkins’ tenure came in his first season. Stanford started out the season with an 11-1 record, picking up home victories against Colorado, Northwestern, Texas Tech, and Arizona, while going on the road and beating Colorado State and Santa Clara. Then, out of nowhere, disaster struck. An NCAA Tournament season became a “scrape-your-way-into-the-CBI” campaign after dropping eight of 10 contests in more than a month-long span.

Terrible. Just terrible. And it happens like clockwork every year.

The Danceless streak has not only resulted in a step down on the national level, but also locally. Under Mike Montgomery and to some extent Trent Johnson, Stanford basketball was one of the hottest things in town. Now, on its own campus, the long-dormant football team, women’s basketball squad, and baseball team have outshone the men’s hoops team as of late. The football Cardinal have won 22 of their past 26 games and the quarterback was taken with the first overall pick in the last NFL Draft, and the women’s hoops team has a record of 231-21 since 2006-07. On the diamond, the Cardinal have made back-to-back Super Regionals and had a player picked eighth in June’s MLB Draft. Around the Bay Area, the San Francisco Giants are one of the hottest tickets in town, as are the 49ers after making it to the NFC Championship Game last season.

Aside from the mid-season swoons and local team improvement, another major problem that has plagued Stanford as of late is the ability to not develop and successfully use the talent that they have. Players like Landry Fields and Jeremy Green had great college careers, but they were never able to lead their team to the NCAAs, or even the NIT, for that matter. An important factor for the near future and Dawkins’ job security will be how they use and develop sophomore point guard Chasson Randle. Randle, along with senior Josh Owens, led the team to an NIT Championship. He was a terrific floor general and scored the ball with ease, leading the Cardinal with an average of 13.8 PPG. The next step in his development will be the addition of a passing game. Nothing huge is needed, just enough to be able to spread out the offense and avoid the stalls they suffered though last season.

As it is with any franchise, school, and team, winning solves everything. Dawkins has pulled in good recruiting class after good recruiting class, and the NIT title was a terrific step in the right direction. Once the mid-season turmoil ends and the wins begin to translate into NCAA bids, it won’t be long until Stanford basketball is back in the national picture.

Connor Pelton (300 Posts)

I'm from Portland. College basketball and football is life.

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