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Wrapping Up Pac-12 Media Day
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 10/17/2013

Twitter Coverage | Pac-12 Media Day Central | Danna: Another Set Of Twins

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.- Stanford has been picked to finish sixth in the 2013-14 Pac-12 men's basketball preseason media poll, as announced on Thursday morning at the conference's Media Day.

Head coach Johnny Dawkins and senior forward Dwight Powell were in attendance representing Stanford.

The Cardinal tied for sixth in league play last year at 9-9 after being projected to finish fourth overall.

The complete poll is as follows.

1. Arizona 273 pts. (21 first-place votes)
2. UCLA 212 pts. (1 first-place votes)
3. Colorado 211 pts. (1 first-place votes)
4. Oregon 196 pts.
5. California 194 pts.
6. Stanford 166 pts.
7. Arizona State 159 pts.
8. Washington 121 pts.
9. Utah 68 pts.
10. Oregon State 67 pts.
11. USC 63 pts.
12. Washington State 39 pts.


MODERATOR:
We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach.

DAWKINS: Well, for us, we're very excited about the season. We return a number of players, we return a lot of experience. Of course, we return a First-Team All-Pac-12 player in Dwight Powell. Another defensive player, All-Defensive Team player in Josh Huestis. And looking forward to having Anthony Brown rejoin our team this year, very excited about that as well. So that's who we are.

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What's been the biggest area of focus for the team in the offseason so far?

POWELL: For us, we have had a lot of focuses, actually, as far as growing as a team. So we have been obviously working on different aspects of our offense and defense and individual skill development on the court. We have also spent a lot of time, a considerable amount of time off the court growing together and figuring out what it's going to take for us mentally and physically to reach our goals.

DAWKINS: There you go. And I would like to echo what Dwight said. We have definitely spent a lot of time with our group both on and off the court and developing some synergy. Excited about our way of playing, excited about the way we're enjoying the process, and looking forward to continuing to get better throughout the next couple months.

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You have one of the most experienced teams in the league this year. You've obviously made a very aggressive move in trying to improve your RPI by scheduling Michigan and Connecticut and yet you're picked sixth in the preseason here. I know you don't lose much sleep over polls, but I'm wondering whether you actually relish the idea of going into the season with expectations so low evidently from people around the Pac-12.

DAWKINS: Well, I don't really of course follow that as much, from the standpoint of where they pick us. I'm just excited about my team. We scheduled based on the fact that we had a lot of experience returning. I thought it was the appropriate schedule for our guys to compete against. And we all are going to start off the same way. As you know, when conference play starts, we'll all be 0-0 and we'll all be competing heavily for a Pac-12 title.

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Dwight, what was your takeaway from that Navy SEAL training that your team underwent recently? Did you think it was beneficial, and, if so, in what way?

POWELL: I definitely think it was beneficial. First and foremost, it was a challenge that maybe not all of us thought we could get through, but we did. And we did so as a team. Also, just teaching us that level of discipline and commitment that those guys have to get the job that they have to get done. And with no excuses. I think we can take away a lot from that going into our season and in the preparation for our season as far as no excuses and fighting through adversity and fighting through pain, but all together. So, yeah, we got a lot out of it.

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There's a very good recent history of twins on the farm with the Collins twins and of course the Lopez twins and now have you Marcus and Malcolm Allen, and obviously they're perimeter players, but what can you tell us about this new set of twins?

DAWKINS: Well, the new set of twins we have, they're going to provide depth on the perimeter for us. Marcus, of course, is the most touted one. Really good scorer, really good athlete, so he's going to provide that for us on the floor. Malcolm, his brother, is more of a point guard, runs the team very unselfishly, and so more of a floor general. So I think having both of those players provide depth with the kids that we already have in our back court, guys such as Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, so we're excited to have them join us.

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Can you sense what it means for the program to have you coming back? And also we have seen Andrew Luck come back to school and several other examples at Stanford. And could you also touch on that, Johnny, what it means?

POWELL: For me it feels great to feel my class welcome me back. Coming in with them we had a lot of goals of things we wanted to achieve and we needed to achieve to deem our career as collegiate athletes successful. And not all of those things have been accomplished yet. So coming back, personally, for me, it was extremely important. And it's nice to hear from them that it was important for them too, so it feels good.

DAWKINS: For us, of course we're really pleased that he came back. Not because of the basketball aspect of it, because we're happy he came back because he valued his education and getting his degree, so very fortunate that he made that decision. And on the basketball front, he's had an exceptional career, especially last year, made a big jump. And I think that there's a lot of room for growth this season for him. As he mentioned before, there's unfinished business. So that says a lot about who he is, that he stayed for a commitment to get his degree and he stayed for a commitment to help his team take care of some unfinished business.

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You mentioned returning a lot of players and talent to this team, yet last year you finished 9-9. What might you see different this year, if anything?

DAWKINS: Well, we definitely have a new way of playing and a new way of also thinking. And that's been something that we -- that's been our approach from the preseason up until now. So, for us, I think the things you'll see differently is we didn't close very well last year. We had five games I believe or so that we finished losing by five or less points. So even though our record was 9-9 in conference, we felt we were very close. And in some cases we just unfortunately -- it didn't work out our way, but we're not going to dwell on that. We're going to put in our system, which we already have done. And we're excited about now our new way of thinking, which is what Dwight said earlier, about the Navy SEALs training and our approach there.

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Couple other coaches have mentioned conditioning as being a big factor for their team. Is that something that you as a coach in a guard-heavy league have to really be mindful of, and is that an approach you take with your own team?

DAWKINS: Of course, we really believe in being well conditioned as well. You have to be. You're talking about trying to squeeze out every bit of the highest level of conditioning a player can have out there to compete at this level. So we're always concerned about that. But in doing so we don't want to overwork our players to a point where they break down or overwork our players to the point where they're sluggish on the floor. So you have to find that balance. I think the only way you can do that is look at your personnel and realize that it's different from someone else's and make the adjustments necessary.

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There are plenty of videos of you doing trick shots from all over Maples. Which one are you most proud of?

POWELL: I would have to say the shot I'm most proud of was from the upper deck, alley-oop to myself from myself. I think that would be my favorite.

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You obviously have a lot of really experienced players coming back. Could you talk about maybe a younger guy who is ready to step up, maybe make a Dwight-like jump this year?

DAWKINS: Well, the player that I think is ready to make a jump is a player that didn't play for us a the all last season, Anthony Brown. He's now a redshirt junior. Struggled with some problems. Of course he's had two surgeries, but he's fully healthy now and he's ready to go. I think he's a young man that you will see really come in and contribute and probably will make the biggest jump of all the players that I can think of.

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A lot of experience that you return from last year, and at least media-wise a lot of people thought last year's roster was good enough to make a tournament run. This year with the amount of talent that you have coming back, is there any sense that you need to make the NCAA Tournament this year for this year to be considered a success?

DAWKINS: Absolutely. I think for this year to be a success for our group we should make the tournament. We have the experience, and our kids have been through a lot. I think part of that adversity is what helps you. It's what you do with it. So our guys realize that this is a special year. We have five seniors, and so we'd like to see these guys leave their legacy. And so that would be a fair statement. I think that it's an attainable goal. We have to go out and approach it every day, though, where we get better and not get consumed by it. But if we get better every game, every practice, then I think it's a realistic goal that we can be a team that can make the tournament.

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Stanford (19-15, 9-9 Pac-12) advanced to the postseason for the second straight year in 2013, reaching the second round of the NIT after winning the event two years ago. Stanford finished non-conference play at 10-5, including wins over Northern Iowa and Northwestern. In Pac-12 action, Stanford swept the season series against California for the first time since 2008 and upset No. 10/12 Oregon 76-52 at Maples Pavilion.


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