It wasn’t long ago when the Indiana Pacers had their sights on a playoff berth in the wide-open Eastern Conference. However that time has passed and the Pacers are looking for answers to try and salvage their season. Indiana has now lost seven of their last eight games and it has cost Jim O’Brien his job as he was fired yesterday after the Pacers got belted by the Chicago Bulls.
While the problems run a lot deeper than O’Brien it became clear that he was skating on thin ice with the front office for his refusal to play some of the younger players on the roster and for his public criticism of Roy Hibbert who started out looking like the NBA’s Most Improved Player. O’Brien getting fired paves the way for 37-year-old assistant coach Frank Vogel to get the opportunity that he has been waiting for. Perhaps a coaching change is exactly what one of the more underachieving teams in the NBA needs to get back to playing like the playoff team they looked like early in the season.
Frank Vogel joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis on the Big Joe Show to talk about getting the opportunity to coach the Pacers the rest of the season, whether or not he is looking at this as his opportunity to become a head coach or boost his resume, if he ever had a certain age in mind where he wanted to be a head coach, and what it would mean to him to bring the Pacers back to the playoffs.
On whether or not he feels the team will be refocused after making a coaching change:
“I do. I think they’re very focused and they all understand that we’re better than we’ve been playing. They’re focused on accomplishing that and they’re excited about that.”
Whether or not he is looking at this opportunity as one where he can become a head coach in the future or boost his resume:
“Both. Honestly I’m interested in winning. I learned that from Rick Pitino a long time ago that if you take care of winning then everything else will take care of itself. Really my only focus right now is winning tonight, winning Wednesday night, and winning every game that we play the rest of the way. The rest will take care of itself.”
If he ever put a specific age on when he wanted to be a head coach:
“No I never put a number on it or said by this date I want to be a head coach. If I did that I would’ve made the jump back to college and tried to take a college job at 28-years-old or somewhere around there in the last ten years. I always felt as long as I was growing as a coach and moving up the ladder that I wasn’t going to do anything dramatic just to get that quote unquote head coaching experience.”
On how he will communicate with the players:
“You just have to talk to them. They just have to know where they stand. People in general can accept the truth as long as it’s the truth and they know what is in front of them. They may not always like what they hear but they can handle it better. I met with all of them today and some of the guys are not going to be playing as much as they used to and some are going to be playing more. It doesn’t change the fact that I believe in them and when their number is going to be called that they’re going to produce. I really from the bottom of my heart believe in every guy on this roster. I just try to relay that to them and that’s going to be my approach with them.”
What it would mean to bring the Pacers back to the playoffs:
“You’ve seen movies like Remember the Titans and Hoosiers where you hit those moments in those movies that send chills up your spine? Getting this team to the playoffs sends chills up my spine. That’s what I’m excited about the opportunity to do.”