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“You’re able to put your program in a different light when you’re competing on a national stage and everyone is watching,” Dawkins said. “You get a chance to show not only how well your players perform on the court but who they are as people. That’s what excites me. You get a chance to learn about my players what I already know. I have an unbelievable group of kids to coach.”

The Cardinal hadn’t even made the tournament since 2008 under former coach Trent Johnson, when they also won two games before losing to Texas in the round of 16.

Stanford has gotten past that round just twice since winning it all in 1942: losing in the Final Four to Kentucky in 1998 and the regional final to Maryland in 2001.

But none of this is new to Dawkins, who played in a national title game as a player and won it all as an assistant at Duke.

“The good thing about this for me is this isn’t the first time I’ve been doing this,” Dawkins said. “I’ve been here as a player and fortunately I’ve been here a number of years as an assistant coach. I’m just excited for our kids to have this opportunity.”