The Johnny Dawkins era of Cardinal basketball is over.
Naturally, the minds of Stanford Cardinal fans quickly move to wonder who will be the new head of the men's program in Maples.
Stanford Athletic Director Bernard Muir is a basketball guy. Muir played at Brown University. Following his college career, Muir was the assistant director of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship for 7 years before becoming the director of operations for the NCAA Tournament for 2 years. All this is to say that it is fair to assume Muir is very connected in the world of college basketball.
Stanford has its unique requirement of finding a coach that fits the mold of the most successful athletic department in the country. A standard of excellence, one that was once upheld on The Farm in Men's Hoops, is expected on the court without surrendering the rigorous academic demands placed upon the student-athletes. Few coaches have had to operate under these or similar conditions that are found at Stanford.
As such, it is natural to look to qualified coaching candidate that have ties to Stanford and understand the culture on The Farm. So, lets look at candidates with a connection to Stanford.
Russell Turner - UC-Irvine head coach
Before his time at Stanford, Turner was an assistant at Wake Forest. At Wake Forest, his teams qualified for the post-season all 6 seasons.
Russell Turner was an assistant at Stanford under Mike Montgomery from 2000-04. Stanford was very successful during this 4-season stretch. The Cardinal won two conference championships, one conference tournament, and qualified and advanced in the NCAA tournament in each season. The furthest run was to the Elite Eight. In two of those seasons, Stanford enjoyed a #1 ranking in the country.
Turner followed Montgomery to the Golden State Warriors from 2004-06. Turner was retained as an assistant when Don Nelson took over as head man for the Warriors in 2006-2010.
Following his stint in the NBA, Turner was hired to coach at UC-Irvine. Turner has led the Anteaters over the past 6 seasons accruing a record of 115-89. Turner's squads have won the Big West Conference twice in the past 3 seasons. In addition, they also won the Big West Conference Tournament in 2014-15. Turner had led the Anteaters to their first ever NCAA Tournament. They were awarded a 13-seed and were narrowly defeated by 4-seed Louisville, 57-55.
Turner wouldn't be a "flashy" hire, but there is good reason to believe that he would be effective as Stanford's head coach.
Jarron Collins - Golden State Warriors assistant coach
Collins was a 2-time All-American as a player at Stanford. Collins went on to play 10 season in the National Basketball Association.
Collins is relatively new to the world of coaching. In 2013, Collins worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Clippers. In 2014, Steve Kerr hired Collins to the staff at the Golden State Warrior where he initially served as a player development coach. In 2015, he was promoted to the position of assistant coach by the Warriors. Since Collins arrival for the Dubs, Golden State won a NBA title and are currently putting together one of the greatest seasons in the history of basketball.
Collins is currently solely focused on helping Golden State repeat as champions. However, if he could bring any of the offensive principles and excitement for the Warriors to Maples, it would be wonderful.
Mark Madsen - Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach
Madsen was a 2-time All-American when he played at Stanford. With his leadership, his Cardinal team made a run to the Final Four. The Mad Dog went on to play 9 season in the NBA where he won 2 championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Madsen has 5 seasons of coaching experience. He started as an assistant coach to the now defunct D-League team the Utah Flash in 2009-2010. Madsen returned to Palo Alto in 2012-13 season and served as an assistant coach for the Cardinal. During his one year return, he became a menace in the Stanford intramural program. Madsen took a head coaching job for the Developmental League team the Los Angeles D-Fenders in 2013, but before the season began he was hired by the LA Lakers as a player development coach. Madsen has since been promoted and currently serves as an assistant coach for the Lakers.
Trent Johnson - recently fired from TCU as head coach
Before Johnny Dawkins' reign was Trent Johnson. Johnson led the Cardinal to a 80-48 record with 3 NCAA appearances and a trip to the NIT as the head man. He was also honored as Pac-10 Coach of the Year in his final season with Stanford.
Cardinal fans may recall that things didn't exactly end well with Johnson at the end of his tenure. Johnson left for LSU feeling that Stanford wasn't offering him the length and money he deserved in his next contract.
Johnson lasted 4 seasons in Baton Rouge going 67-62 with 1 NCAA Tournament appearance, before bolting on the LSU Tigers for the TCU Horned Frogs.
At TCU, Johnson coached for 4 seasons before being fired by the Horned Frogs after his teams went 50-79 with their best Big 12 finish being 9th place out of 10 teams.
While it seems quite unlikely that Trent Johnson would be hired (again), it does represent the possibility of a very interesting phone call between him and Bernard Muir.
Beyond candidates with connections to Stanford, I believe the next most likely place Stanford would be able to draw a quality coach from is a successful Mid-Major program. The potential pool is enormous. However, here are a few names that have been floated around to consider.
Randy Bennett - St. Mary's College head coach
Bennett has been the head coach at St. Mary's since 2001. He is a great coach who is particularly good with guards and has a recruiting pipeline to Australia. Bennett can boast a glossy 314-147 record during his time with the Gaels in Moraga.
One potential flaws on Bennett's resume is that he has a NCAA violation to his name. In 2013, St. Mary's was penalized for recruiting violations. In particular Bennett was reported to have "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance" among his assistant coaches. As such he was penalized by not being allowed to recruit off campus and was suspended for the first five West Coast Conference games in 2013.
Would Bennett's infraction be enough to take him out as a serious candidate at Stanford?
Tommy Amaker - Harvard head coach
Amaker has been successful for the Crimson. But are Stanford fans really ready to have another former Duke player patrolling the sideline?
Amaker would certainly understand the need to recruit scholar athletes from his experience in Cambridge. He has been very good in the Ivy League going 175-95 -- winning 5 Ivy League championships. Amaker's Harvard squads have advanced to the round of 32 twice in his 9 seasons in charge.
A concern with Amaker is his mediocrity in bigger jobs. Amaker coached at Michigan from 2001-07 going 108-84 and never made it the NCAA tournament. His best Big Ten finish with the Wolverines was a tie for 3rd place.
Before Michigan, Amaker coached the Seton Hall Pirates from 1997-2001. Seton Hall went 68-55 in that time period with a single trip to the NCAA tournament -- they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Before going to Harvard, Amaker had a .559 win percentage. Stanford just fired Johnny Dawkins for having a .576 win percentage. Shouldn't there be concern that Tommy Amaker is best suited as a big fish in a little pond?
Archie Miller - Dayton head coach
Sean Miller is working out just fine at Arizona. So why not try his successful brother Archie?
Archie Miller has gone 115-54 over 5 seasons with the Dayton Flyers. Miller has qualified the Flyers for the NCAA tourney in each of the past 3 seasons. Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight and the Round of 32 in the past two tournaments. Miller's team takes on Syracuse on Friday.
Miller has a glossy 5-2 record in the NCAA tournament.
Miller worked as an assistant at Arizona, Ohio State, Arizona State, NC State, and Western Kentucky. Archie understands big time basketball. This would be a very good hire for the Cardinal.
There are many, many more coaches that are very good and would be potentially interesting hires. While it doesn't seem likely that they would leave their current scenario, it is probably worth giving them a phone call as I believe that most of them would at least listen to what Bernard Muir had to pitch concerning the Stanford vacancy. Coaches like Gonzaga's Mark Few and BYU's Dave Rose fit this category.
Bernard Muir has a lot of work to do. This process may take awhile as potential candidates may want to finish their post-season tournaments or NBA obligations before considering a new job.
Be sure to keep checking Rule of Tree for updates on the Stanford coaching search.