Preview: Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal should improve, just in time for coach Johnny Dawkins

Updated: October 21, 2013, 10:00 AM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

Dwight Powell, Larry Drew IIAP Photo/Jae C. HongCan Dwight Powell and Stanford seize an NCAA tournament bid this season?

Stanford Cardinal

2012-13: 19-15 (9-9 Pac-12) Lost to Alabama 66-54, NIT second round
In-conference offense: 1.05 points per possession (2nd)
In-conference defense: 1.00 point per possession (7th)

As Johnny Dawkins enters a crucial sixth season on the Farm, there's good news and bad news for his future. First, the reasons for concern. After winning the 2012 NIT championship, Dawkins' Stanford Cardinal became a trendy pick to compete in the Pac-12. Instead, Stanford actually finished a game worse in the standings and missed out on the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive year, covering Dawkins' entire tenure.

Projected starting lineup

While athletic director Bernard Muir brought Dawkins back, he made it clear another season of the same wouldn't be good enough.

"At Stanford we want excellence in everything we do," Muir told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've fallen short in that regard. We have the makings of a very good team next year. We want to compete for a championship."

The upside for Dawkins is his chances of a breakthrough season look promising. In the first place, the Cardinal were much better in Pac-12 play than their record indicated. Only Arizona, which reached the Sweet 16, had a better efficiency differential against conference foes than Stanford's +0.05 mark.