IBJNews

LEADING QUESTIONS: Pacers' new coach preaches overachieving

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about the latest developments in their industries and the habits that lead to success.

Frank Vogel, 38, was named head coach of the Indiana Pacers on July 6, after a lengthy audition as interim head coach last season. The team fired coach Jim O’Brien on Jan. 30, leaving former assistant Vogel to helm the team through 38 remaining regular-season games (going 20-18) and a gutty five-game playoff series loss against the Chicago Bulls.



Taking control of the young team, Vogel immediately loosened O’Brien’s tight reins in hopes of reinvigorating the players (see video above). He also tried to imprint a new identity on the team—that of relentless, overachieving underdogs who would stop at nothing for a win.

Vogel is quite comfortable with that identity himself. Never a gifted athlete, he forged a career as a high school player in Wildwood, N.J., and Division III starter at Juniata College in central Pennsylvania through dogged preparation and raw persistence.

He learned the lesson early. A gym rat as a youngster, Vogel heard a motivational speech at a basketball camp about challenging one’s self to continually improve, punctuated by eye-popping basketball-spinning tricks.

“I bought into it,” Vogel said. “I was like, ‘I want to do that. I want to keep getting better.’ So I was able to learn these tricks. I spent a lot of time in my front driveway, just spinning it and spinning it. Eventually, I mastered the craft.”

Friends encouraged him to audition for the “Stupid Human Tricks” segment on “Late Night with David Letterman.” The 13-year-old Vogel was a hit on the show, spinning a basketball on the back end of a toothbrush while brushing his teeth with the bristles.

Hard work doesn’t always pay off. Vogel enrolled at Juniata College and decided to study pre-med while also playing on the school’s varsity basketball squad. The best grade point average he could muster was a 2.6, so he started looking for alternatives. After deciding on coaching as a career, he became enamored of the resurgent University of Kentucky program headed by then-coach Rick Pitino.

“I said, ‘I want to work for that guy. I want to learn what they do and why he’s one of the best coaches in the country,’” Vogel recalled. That led to a great leap of faith—abandoning his senior year at Juniata and transferring to Kentucky in hopes of landing a spot as a student-manager.

Through persistence, Vogel landed a 30-second interview with Pitino and made the acquaintance of then-assistant Jim O’Brien. He eventually convinced O’Brien to give him a shot, and ended up working as a video coordinator for the team.

In 1997, he followed Pitino to the Boston Celtics, where he served as video coordinator through 2001, and then an assistant coach through 2004. After holding positions with the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards, Vogel landed in Indianapolis in 2007 as an assistant to O’Brien.

In the video below, Vogel discusses early influences on his attitude toward success, his appearance on "Late Night" and how he was able to convince O'Brien to let him join the Kentucky program.



Contrary to popular belief, professional coaches don't pepper every halftime locker-room talk with emotional calls to greatness. But they occasionally are merited. In the video below, Vogel recalls inciting his players during halftime of a game against the Miami Heat, and how he used a pivotal scene in the movie "Rocky" to inspire them.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Impressed
    Wow, Coach Vogel seems like a down to earth guy. I'm impressed by his work ethic and how he started at the bottom! It's exciting to have him as the new Pacers coach.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.

ADVERTISEMENT