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NCAA countdown: No. 38 Stanford
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On September 18, 2013 @ 2:03 pm In NCAA,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: The NCAA tournament seemed to be an inevitable destination for Stanford. The Cardinal brought back a talented core from 2012′s NIT title-winning team and on paper looked to be in the mix for the Pac-12 Conference crown.
Yet with all the pieces in places Stanford still had 15 losses, six by five points or fewer. The Cardinal finished in the middle of the conference race and camped out on the NCAA tournament bubble. Ultimately the team settled for another trip to the NIT, this one ending with a second-round exit.
Once again this season, coach Johnny Dawkins has a deep, experienced roster led by perhaps the best player in the Pac-12 in Dwight Powell.
What’s different this season? Dawkins believes consistency is the key. Three times last season the Cardinal lost back-to-back Pac-12 games. In a league featuring as many as seven Big Dance-worthy teams, a laser-point focus is needed.
Coach’s corner: “I can’t say I’m pleased with where we’re at because we can do better. We’ve been at .500 in a power conference each of the last two seasons. We really need to make that next step, and that’s putting out an NCAA tournament-caliber team each season. We have our mini goals and our micro goals. We need to focus on each game, then worry about the rest.” — Powell, a senior who has yet to lead Stanford to the NCAAs.
2012-13 in review: 19-15 overall (9-9 in Pac-12), lost in NIT second round.
Path to the Dance: At-large bid.
Tournament projection: No. 9 seed.
Conference outlook: The Pac-12 appears poised for a resurgence after a season in which five teams made the NCAA tournament, and three more teams reached the NIT. Though Arizona is the favorite, the league race will be intriguing with six NCAA tournament contenders behind the Wildcats: Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State and California. The first three appear to be shoo-ins, while the latter three are more of a mystery.
Star watch: Powell, an athletic 6-10 forward who can step out and knock down jumpers on the perimeter, returns as the team’s top … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 38 Stanford, click here.]
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