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Johnny Dawkins: ‘We Have To Ignore The Noise’

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(Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

(Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

In one of the most surprising results from this past weekend, No. 10 Stanford upset No. 2 Kansas, 60-57, on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.”

“It’s a real good feeling,” Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins said on The John Feinstein Show. “I’m happy for our guys.”

Especially his seniors – Aaron Bright, Anthony Brown, Robbie Lemons, Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell and John Gage – who have overcome a great deal of adversity throughout their Cardinal careers.

“When they came in, there were (very high) expectations placed on them – and us – and so our freshman year was a tough year for those kids,” Dawkins said. “Sophomore year, I thought our kids did a really good job – actually won the NIT championship, which I thought was great experience for us going forward, to be quite frank. And heaped upon that was the expectation next next they’ll make the jump (and make the NCAA Tournament) – and we didn’t.”

Indeed, Stanford went 19-15 last year, losing to Alabama in the second round of the NIT.

“It was unfortunate,” Dawkins said. “That’s the adversity that we went through. We just weren’t ready to make the jump. You go through that as programs. But the seniors, to see them somewhat vindicated, to go out and have some success and play the way we know they’re capable of – it’s been fun for me to watch these young men.”

Stanford plays No. 11 Dayton on Thursday, with the winner to play No. 1 Florida or No. 4 UCLA for a spot in the Final Four.

Ironically, Dayton is recruiting Dawkins’ son, Aubrey.

“Yes, they are,” Dawkins said. “They’re recruiting my son, which is great. I think the world of their program. I’ve watched Dayton for a long time – before Archie (Miller) got there. They’ve always had a lot of success, great following, good tradition – and yeah, they’re recruiting my son as well, which makes it interesting.”

How good do you think your son is, Johnny?

“Coming from me,” Dawkins said, “I think he’s great.”

Dayton has a few of those players as well. Eleven Flyers saw action against Syracuse. Three bench players played at least 12 minutes. One of them, Vee Sanford, hit the game-winning shot against Ohio State.

This is a deep team.

“They are,” Dawkins said. “Every position, they’re two-deep – and Archie has done a great job playing his depth. Those kids come in the game, they stay fresh. So we have to be smart. We realize who we are. I’ve gained more confidence in playing more guys on my team as the season’s progressed. Guys have really earned an opportunity to get in. We’ll have to utilize some more of our depth as well.”

That includes junior Chasson Randle, who has averaged 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 steals through two games in the tournament.

“Chasson wants to be a great player,” Dawkins said. “He’s one of those young men who’s lived for this moment – to be on this stage, competing for what everyone’s competing for right now. I think you’ve seen him respond in kind. That’s who he’s been his entire career. I’m just happy that we’re able to put him in position for the world to see him.”

Now, the challenge for Dawkins is making sure his players aren’t satisfied with how far they’ve gotten.

“We have to ignore the noise,” he said. “Everyone around us is going to be happy that we’ve had some success and we’re still moving on, but we can’t focus on that. We have to focus on the task at hand. We’re going to play a very good basketball team. That’s all that matters is our preparation and getting ready to compete. To their credit, they’ve been focused and really engaged at what we’re trying to do.”

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