We have reached the stretch run of the college basketball season, with the Bay Area's six men's teams contending for league titles and postseason berths -- or just playing out the string.
Back when it all started, we examined each coach's job security. For some, the seat was sizzling; for others, chilled to the bone.
Let's update the temperatures, from hottest to coldest:
George Nessman, San Jose State
Now: Surface of the Sun.
Status report: Without high-scoring guard James Kinney, who has been suspended for the season for academic reasons, the Spartans are in free fall. They have lost eight in a row, have been blown out repeatedly and have struggled to score a paltry 50 points.
"We were doing really well, and now we're not -- put the two together," said Nessman, whose team was 9-6 before losing Kinney last month.
"Maybe we underestimated how much James' ability to score was driving the team. He makes the game different for everyone else."
Nessman is in his eighth year and under contract through next season, but it is difficult to envision him being around when the Spartans enter the Mountain West Conference next fall. He has no ties to first-year athletic director Gene Bleymaier and 22 losses in his past 26 Western Athletic Conference games.
"Those are the kind of things you worry about after the season's over," Nessman said of his future at SJSU. "Right now, I'm focused on coaching the team."
But barring an infusion of cash and significant infrastructure upgrades -- Nessman's office is located on the ground floor of the Tenth Street parking garage -- a coaching change won't alter the program's trajectory.
Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Now: Warm, but with a chance of cooling.
Status report: Stanford was considerably less than the sum of its parts through the first 21/2 months of the season. But a recent
It is a football school, after all.
The X factor is athletic director Bernard Muir, who has been on the job for just six months.
Kerry Keating, Santa Clara
Now: Room temperature.
Status report: The Broncos are 0-4 against the West Coast Conference heavyweights, with three losses by double digits and an unsightly performance last week against Saint Mary's.
But SCU is 5-1 against everyone else in the WCC and, with 17 overall wins, positioned for a berth in one of the second-tier postseason tournaments.
The heat appears to be off Keating and athletic director Dan Coonan, at least until next season.
Rex Walters, USF
Status report: The Dons lost 10 of 12 at one point, but their overhauled roster is finally coalescing. (Their 12-point victory at BYU last week was a stunner.)
The improvement, combined with Walters' close relationship with athletic director Scott Sidwell, means his job is almost assuredly safe.
Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's
Then: Very cool, unless the NCAA uncovers major violations.
Now: No change.
Status report: Neither the NCAA nor the Gaels have uttered a public
On the court, Bennett's team is ramping up for the stretch run, which begins Thursday against No. 5 Gonzaga and continues next week against BYU and Creighton.
The bubble-bound Gaels must win at least one of the three to improve their chances for an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
Mike Montgomery, Cal
Then: Very cool.
Now: Very cool.
Status report: Montgomery is fresh off an upset of No. 7 Arizona and in no danger of receiving his walking papers (i.e., getting Tedford-ed).
But he turns 66 in two weeks and doesn't have a roster capable of contending for the Pac-12 title -- either this season or next, it would seem.
How much longer will Montgomery coach? His current contract, which runs through the 2016 season, probably will be his last.