In the building are reporters from your local
papers, local TV stations, and an AP writer and photographer. I count about 15
reporters, 30 boosters and 20 Athletic Department employees.
Bootleg luminaries I recognize include Mike Eubanks, John Platz and co-founder
Jim Rutter. The building’s as full as it’s been for any press conference since
I’ve been here – Bowlsby’s introduction, Harbaugh’s hiring, you name it.
Tara VanDerveer swung by at 3:40 and Jim Harbaugh arrived at 3:55. I see Nick Robinson and Donny Guerinoni, but no Doug Oliver (the room’s pretty full – might
have missed him). And how about the new head SID Jim Young? Having a nice,
casual conversation with him wasn’t an exercise in masochism. If you don’t think
that’s going to affect the coverage Stanford receives over the next few years,
Dawkins’ wife and four children show up at 3:59 and are seated stage left.
The wife’s all smiles – the kids look a little intimidated to be moving across
the country. I don’t blame them. Such a difference from the TJ era, when his
wife and family were strictly off-limits.
Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby
and Dawkins arrive at 4:01, pose for still photos, and we’re underway…
“We’re very excited to start the Johnny Dawkins era at Stanford.”
Bowlsby mentioned that the search was abnormal in that it didn’t come on the
heels of a downward spell in the program, and specified what characteristics he
sought during the coaching search.
“A coach, an educator, a community citizen,” he said. “Someone of high
integrity and with a high level of expectations, and the energy for the task.
Even with all those traits, you also have to have somebody who has had the
requisite experiences to bring it all together and produce something that is
extra special. As soon as we began visiting with Coach Dawkins, it became
apparent that he fit hand and glove at Stanford University."
Bowlsby thanked Dawkins’ wife and children, and then introduced Dawkins,
lifting heavily from his GoDuke.com bio. He highlighted Dawkins’ nine years with
the Spurs, 76ers and Pistons (which I have no recollection of whatsoever – okay,
he only started nine games for Detroit, I feel better now.)
He highlighted Dawkins’ 10 years next to Coach K, adding “and we all know how
important that is.” (American Express certainly does.) Bowlsby adds that in
eight of Dawkins’ 11 years at Duke, the Devils were the No. 1-ranked team in the
country at some point. (Yet they only won one national title during that period,
so I’m not sure which way that stat cuts.)
Bowlsby mentioned that Dawkins received a six-year contract.
He’d calm somewhat after a few minutes, but Dawkins was visibly nervous as he
stepped forward. He hunched over podium, and stuttered through his first couple
Couple that with the genuine ear-to-ear smile he broke out a few times, most
notably joking about his wife and children, and his humanity was touching.
He seemed genuinely surprised and thrilled to find himself in this
opportunity, and his body language was downright giddy, saying “I still can’t
believe this has happened to me.” He looked like a kid on Christmas morning – he
looked like he was having fun. And after the past two weeks, two weeks that
Mitch Johnson would later say reminded him that college basketball is a business
after all, Dawkins’ unbridled excitement was downright refreshing.
Dawkins started by thanking his family, Bowlsby, President Hennessey, and
Duke and Coach K for mentoring him and bringing him along.
He then reached out to the diehards.
“We’re going to do something special here,” he said. “For us to do something
special here and continue with the standards of excellence that Stanford has
started and have been around for years, it takes ownership from everyone.
“The one thing I believe is that this is our program. It's not Johnny
Dawkins' basketball program. It's our program, and you only do special things
when we are all in it together. And I would like to continue that because I know
from watching everyone here and spending time with guys this week, how close
everyone is and how much of a family atmosphere exists. I'm excited to be a part
Dawkins talked about meeting with the players Monday afternoon, and the fact
that they broke the huddle with the cheer “family.” That, he said, is the type
of atmosphere he hopes will continue.
Dawkins then turned to questions. It was just 4:11, and Bowlsby probably
spent the first five minutes of the hour with his remarks.
Many of Dawkins’ quotes can be found here: Official Quotes from GoStanford.com,
but here are some highlights:
Systematically, he said he’d follow the man-to-man defense of past
Stanford teams and add more motion to the offense.
“I believe in an up-tempo game,” he said. “I believe in man-to-man defense. I
believe in an offense that is predicated on good ball movement and player
movement, some semblance of the motion offense, along with some sets.
“I have been fortunate to be around a lot of great coaches and the thing that
I have learned over the years is you have to fit your system to your personnel.
As we go forward and we understand exactly what our personnel is, we will devise
a system and scheme that will suit our players and give our guys the best
opportunity to be successful."
He reiterated his excitement at taking the Stanford position, and added that
this was the only head-coach interview he’s ever undergone.
“I have always admired the program and when I received word that they were
interested in speaking with me, I tried to make it happen as soon as I possibly
could,” he said. “For me it was exciting because I have always had strong
feelings about the university."
He repeatedly drew similarities between Stanford and Duke: in their national
recruiting profile, in their academic profile and in their basketball tradition.
In doing so, he downplayed any difficulties he might have recruiting at
“I think Stanford has recruited some amazing players over the years, equal to
the quality of players at Duke. We’ll continue that process and develop those
relationships. Stanford’s a national school with a terrific location: you can
recruit California and you can recruit wherever you want around world.”
He mentioned meeting the team as his top priority, which he did in a
15-minute Monday afternoon meeting. His to-do list is now to recruit hard before
the quiet period starts May 1, then meet with players individually and then
decide on his staff.
Dawkins sounded less than optimistic about landing Miles Plumlee.
“I am not certain what Miles is going to do,” he said.
“I’ve played phone tag with them. I will meet the other two recruits tomorrow
and will try to see the Plumlees after that, but I’m not certain.”
He also sounded uncertain about retaining the current staff.
“Staff-wise, I’d like to take the time to do my homework and make a good
decision with that,” he said. “After recruiting ends, I’ll make observations and
evaluations and determine which direction to go in.”
He added he spoke with Mike Montgomery and Trent Johnson before taking the
position. Both said great things.
“He loved it,” Dawkins said of Johnson’s Stanford experience. “He said he
loved the program and thought that if I had the opportunity, it’d be a great
opportunity for me and a great fit. I was excited for that advice.”
Dawkins said Coach K was similarly pleased for him.
“He was excited
and very happy for me,” Dawkins said of his mentor. “He hugged me. It was a
special moment. I was with him in Phoenix, meeting with USA Basketball, and he
hugged me on the way out the door again. He said `go get them, it's your time.'
He was excited for me."
Dawkins said he was still planning to coach in the Beijing Olympics,
a July 27 to August 24 commitment, and reiterated that position
later with reporters.
"As of now, I am still planning to go to Beijing,” he said. “Timing is a
factor there but I had a three-year commitment with them prior to everything.
There is no higher honor in my book than working for your country's team and
trying to bring the gold medal back to the United States. It's a priority, so I
am excited about that opportunity."
Stay tuned to TheBootleg.com for more to come on the Johnny Dawkins hire and
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