“Within the three years that I coached at Stanford, each sport was offered out,” stated Blaine Taylor, an assistant coach for Stanford males’s basketball crew from 1998 to 2001.
No, this wasn’t Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Dean Dome, or Rupp Area. This was Maples Pavilion at its peak within the late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s.
However who was the architect that drew massive crowds to Maples each week and why had been these crowds there? Stanford basketball’s historical past during the last 50 years, we’ve to hint the origins of this success to the flip of the century.
Origins of success
For a few 50-year stretch, Stanford males’s basketball was mired in mediocrity. After successful an NCAA championship in 1942, this system suffered a 47-year drought of NCAA event appearances. The teaching tenures of Howie Dallmar, Dick DiBlasio and Tom Davis did little to encourage a stressed fanbase craving for a top quality crew that would make a deep run within the NCAA event. That was till former head coach Mike Montgomery took this system’s reins in 1986.
The savvy Montgomery, who had coached at Montana the earlier eight seasons, made some quick splashes in Palo Alto, successful 20 video games by his second yr and reaching the NCAA event by his third. Whereas issues weren’t at all times clean throughout his time teaching Stanford — Montgomery made simply two NCAA tournaments in seven seasons, and even had a 7-23 yr in his seventh season as coach — this didn’t forestall gifted gamers from making their option to the Farm.
“I’m from Los Angeles, so I grew up watching Pac-10 basketball,” stated former guard Arthur Lee ‘99. “I needed to go to UCLA initially, however because the years progressed it got here right down to Stanford and Arizona, and I believed I used to be gonna go to Arizona. However I took my first journey and my solely journey to Stanford, and as soon as I got here right here, I stated, ‘This needs to be the place the place I am going to high school.’”
Former guard David Moseley ‘00 expressed related sentiments to Lee, however was additionally excited by the prospect of resuscitating this system and constructing it again right into a powerhouse after the lengthy dormancy.
“I believe what sealed the deal was Montgomery coming to look at me play after which approaching my go to, and having a tremendous go to,” Moseley stated. “Additionally having a imaginative and prescient of taking a crew that had by no means made it out of the second spherical of the event and believing that we might go actually far.”
The Golden Period
Starting with the 1995 season, the Cardinal made 11 straight NCAA tournaments, a streak solely 14 different faculties have ever achieved. Stanford additionally completed both first or second within the convention for eight straight seasons from 1997-2004. The crew would win 4 Pac-10 titles from 1999-2004, and Montgomery can be named Pac-10 Coach of the Yr 4 occasions.
The teaching employees started to good their recruiting prowess, attractive a number of future first-round picks and McDonald’s All-People to ink with Stanford. Notable gamers included Casey Jacobsen ‘03, Jason and Jarron Collins ‘01, Josh Childress ‘05, Mark Madsen ‘00 and Curtis Borchardt ‘03.
“I at all times thought our roster was made up of about half Stanford guys,” Taylor stated. “They had been there as a result of it was Stanford and so they had been actually good basketball gamers, however they had been there for the lengthy haul. After which about half the blokes had been McDonald’s All-American form of cats. These guys had been a bit of extra cellular, a bit of extra ‘eyes on the NBA prize.’”
However it wasn’t simply in regards to the Jimmies and Joes. Montgomery utilized a system that performed to the mental energy of the gamers he possessed and likewise used the crew’s gifted front-court gamers most successfully.
“Mike recruited actually good, large gamers and developed them. And we might use them: we might run our offense by way of the Collins twins, Curtis Borchardt, Mark Madsen and Tim Younger,” Taylor stated. “We had actually good, bodily gamers that would display screen, suppose and go. So we created good leap photographs for the fitting gamers. I believed what Mike did pretty much as good as anybody, he received shot alternatives or alternatives to make performs for the fitting gamers on the proper time all through the course of the sport.”
The robust inside presence additionally contributed positively to the defensive facet of the ball, the place the Cardinal might match up in opposition to nearly anyone.
“Defensively, Mike was virtually all man-to-man, however as a result of we had been so large, we might deal with the inside protection most likely higher than most groups,” Taylor stated. “We didn’t have to assist as a lot, we didn’t have to change as a lot, we didn’t should lure as a lot. So we performed just about straight up with robust scouting studies.”
The standard of teaching was additionally cited as key by those that performed underneath Montgomery.
“I might say Montgomery is likely one of the finest X’s and O’s coaches ever in school,” Moseley stated. “We had been at all times ready and our methods had been on level to beat virtually anyone.”
Throughout that point interval, the Cardinal’s largest rival for Pac-10 supremacy was the Arizona Wildcats, headed by coach Lute Olson. Olson led the Wildcats to the 1997 NCAA championship, and a few of his most gifted groups overlapped with Stanford basketball’s heyday. Notable Arizona gamers from this period included Richard Jefferson, Jason Terry and Gilbert Arenas.
“I don’t know if it’s a rivalry. Throughout my 4 years, we beat them one time,” chuckled Moseley. “That’s only a crew we poorly matched up in opposition to. They may match our athleticism, if no more athletic. And so they at all times had dimension on the wing positions or on the guard positions. Or they had been tremendous fast on the guard positions. They simply had our quantity.”
However over time, the Cardinal would turn into extra aggressive in opposition to the Wildcats, with Montgomery going 4-4 in his final eight video games in opposition to Olson. One notable win in opposition to Arizona occurred in 1999 at residence, when the Cardinal had been capable of safe their first Pac-10 basketball championship in 36 years.
“My first yr there, we ended up successful the Pac-10 title, we beat Arizona at residence, and it was humorous to me that they didn’t know easy methods to have fun,” Taylor stated. “I bear in mind Mike Montgomery on the prime of the ladder, swinging the web and placing it round his neck, and it was like everyone was making an attempt to determine how to do that excellent as a result of that they had by no means executed this earlier than.”
Stanford would seize the Pac-12 title in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004. This allowed the Cardinal to clinch No. 1 seeds within the NCAA event in 2000, 2001 and 2004. Sadly, the groups fell wanting fulfilling their nationwide championship aspirations throughout these seasons, getting bounced out of the event sooner than anticipated.
Even so, one NCAA event run nonetheless has a particular place within the hearts of all die-hard Stanford basketball followers.
1998 Closing 4 run
Regardless of having extra gifted and better-ranked groups later in his tenure, Montgomery’s most profitable streak within the NCAA event got here in 1998. Coming into the sector because the No. 3 seed within the West bracket, Stanford defeated Faculty of Charleston, Western Michigan and Purdue earlier than squaring off with Rhode Island within the Elite Eight. After going through a 6-point deficit going into the ultimate minute, Stanford was capable of piece collectively a game-saving run due to the efforts of Arthur Lee ‘99 and Montgomery’s late sport teaching technique.
“Montgomery at all times had a factor: underneath a minute, in the event you’re down lower than 10, perhaps a minute and 30 seconds, begin fouling early. Begin fouling earlier within the shot clock so you’ll be able to lengthen the sport,” Moseley stated. “I had 4 fouls underneath a minute, and I didn’t wish to foul out of the sport; I needed to be on the courtroom. However coach Montgomery was like, ‘Now we have to do that, don’t be afraid to foul out, we have to lengthen the sport.’”
Lee likewise performed his position in preserving Stanford within the event, carrying the Cardinal offensively by scoring 6 factors in that nail-biting last minute.
“Personally, one of many largest issues that drove that comeback was being doubted by way of my expertise and skill to assist lead this crew,” Lee stated. “Earlier than me after all, Brevin Knight ‘97 was the purpose guard. I simply bear in mind studying so many articles and listening to so many ‘pundits’ saying Stanford wouldn’t be pretty much as good with out Brevin Knight. So once I noticed it slipping away, I believed, ‘Win or lose, I’ve to do one thing.’”
Lee additionally compiled an help and key steal which led to the dunk by Madsen that gave Stanford the lead.
“Mark danced badly, however I didn’t do a lot better,” stated Kamba Tshionyi ‘98, referencing his response to Madsen’s dunk. “I used to be making an attempt to carry Mike McDonald ‘01 again as a result of he was going to run on the courtroom. Elation was the fitting phrase. However then it was, ‘Wait, we nonetheless have sport left and oh yeah, we’ve to complete this out.’”
After Rhode Island’s Tyson Wheeler went up for a 3-point try, a questionable foul was known as in opposition to Lee with 5 seconds remaining. However Wheeler missed all three makes an attempt from the road, which punched Stanford’s ticket to the Closing 4 for the primary time in 56 years.
A 1-point additional time loss to eventual nationwide champion Kentucky could have dampened Stanford’s spirits within the short-term, however that’s not what members of the crew recall most.
“Someone informed me relationships transfer on the velocity of belief. I believe one of many nice issues about sports activities generally, and what we received to undergo, is that all of us received baptized by fireplace throughout the exercises and there have been a whole lot of exhausting moments,” stated Tshionyi. “It was an eclectic bunch racially, economically, geographically, however put into this cauldron and going by way of issues collectively, I believe the rationale we had been such a superb crew was energy of relationships.”
After the 2003-2004 season, Montgomery jumped ship, leaving Stanford to go coach the Golden State Warriors for 2 seasons earlier than returning to the school ranks to educate at Cal.
After Montgomery left, assistant coach Trent Johnson took over this system. Johnson would maintain among the success that Montgomery had, albeit at a decrease degree. In his 4 seasons with the Cardinal, Johnson had three NCAA event appearances, together with a Candy Sixteen Look in his last season. Sadly for Stanford, Johnson bolted for LSU after the 2008 season.
Longtime Duke assistant coach Johnny Dawkins changed Johnson as head coach. Whereas Dawkins discovered some success at Stanford, main the Cardinal to a Candy Sixteen look and two NIT Championships, he would fall means wanting the expectations set by each Montgomery and Johnson. When Dawkins was let go after the 2016 season, athletic director Benard Muir employed present head coach Jerod Haase away from UAB. Regardless of selecting up elite expertise from the highschool ranks, Haase remains to be looking for his first NCAA event look at Stanford.
Whereas the lads’s basketball program has lengthy struggled to fill the void left by Montgomery’s departure to the NBA, gamers from the Corridor of Famer’s tenure nonetheless consider in this system’s potential.
“I went to Stanford pondering that we might be a perennial top-25 [team] eternally,” Moseley stated. “You recognize, my buddies that went to Arizona, we might speak trash. However when your crew will not be even competing, it’s not as enjoyable. However I nonetheless suppose they may win the Pac-12 event and go to the [NCAA] event. That’s how a lot expertise they’ve and that’s how a lot I consider within the crew and the blokes and the coaches.”