Fresh-faced coach ready to breathe new life into Pacers

January 31, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Pacers have crossed the 2010-11 season’s midway mark, and the team’s results aren’t good. And I’m not just talking about the Pacers’ win-loss record, which is 10 games below .500.

From a business standpoint, the season also is turning out to be a loser. Through 22 home games, the Pacers are 28th in the 30-team National Basketball Association in attendance. The Pacers are averaging 13,825 fans per home game, ahead of only Sacramento and New Jersey.

According to Pacers executives, the team lost $30 million in each of the last two seasons. With the exception of $10 million the team got from the city this year, there’s little indication that this season will be any better than last year. It appears Pacers owner Herb Simon is likely to lose another $20 million or so this season.

In 2009, Pacers executives said the team’s ticket revenue was more than $400,000 per game below league average, and it’s difficult to imagine that has changed much.

So it’s no surprise Simon urged Larry Bird, director of Pacers basketball operations, to fire four-year head coach Jim O’Brien, whose teams here never came anywhere near posting a winning record.

There’s now at least some hope that new coach, Frank Vogel, can do what O’Brien could not. Namely, energize Pacers players, and in turn fire-up Pacers fans.

Not much is known about Vogel other than that he has been a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards, and also served as an assistant coach for O'Brien in Philadelphia and Boston. Taking the reigns of the Pacers is a huge step up for a man better known for reviewing film than directing a team from the sidelines. But Vogel looked like a man with a positive outlook, energy and something to prove at Sunday’s press conference. It was a marked contrast from what Pacers fans have seen recently from O’Brien.

And there’s this: Vogel is young. At 37, almost everyone who has crossed his path in the NBA says he has a bright future. As intangibles go, he looks like he stepped out of a scene from the movie Hoosiers. He seems like just the type of guy who could capture this market’s imagination—if only he can string some victories together.

Vogel is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in biology and became the Wildcats video coordinator after graduation. He attended Juniata College in Huntington, Pa., where he was a three-year starter for the Division III Eagles. He then transferred to Kentucky, became a student manager and played on the practice squad in 1996.

Pacers brass have to hope Vogel can do for the Pacers what Jason Garrett did for the Dallas Cowboys this NFL season. Garrett took over for Wade Phillips mid-season and put some juice back into an otherwise downtrodden franchise. Garrett last month was hired to be the Cowboys full-time head coach earlier this month.

Only time will tell if Vogel can achieve that kind of success, but the Pacers new coach has plenty of achievements within his grasp.

In Garrett’s case, there was almost no chance he could get the Cowboys into the playoffs. Even with the Pacers’ recent losing streak, a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is still well within the team’s reach.

With the agreement between players and team owners set to expire after this season, and Bird suddenly waffling about his future, it’s too early to look ahead to next season.

Right now, all Simon’s hopes rest on a little-known coach who is stepping into the NBA spotlight for the very first time.
 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Typo
    I know this is nitpicking, but this one really gets me: "breath" is a noun; "breathe" is a verb. You mean "breathe" here.
  • Good luck Coach!!
    I hope Coach Vogel can energize this team and the Indianapolis community like Larry Brown did in the 1990s. Go Pacers!!!
  • Negative tone
    Jim O'Brien needed to go...his constant negative tone with players, inability to motivate in any way other than criticism, didn't work with most of the young players, and he single handedly killed Roy Hibbert's confidence, like TJ Ford saying "whatever" last week when he fell out of the rotation. Veterans maybe respond at first, but they tire of it too...O'Brien did well in both Boston and Philly, but not for an extended period. That act only plays so long...that is why Larry Brown doesn't stay anywhere too long. He was also married do a system where ball movement takes precedence, even when you have some players who create, who would benefit from pick and roll, like Collison, Granger, Mc Roberts. Good move...O'Brien is not a bad guy, just the wrong coach for this team. Good luck to Coach Vogel...now let's get to the playoffs. We have already given away too many winnable games, and there keeps being rumbling about Carmelo and the Nets. I fear if he were to end up there that the Nets would claim a playoff spot, and I am not sure who ends up out of the picture, but it could easily be us.
  • New Coach? What New Coach?
    Let's review - you have an NBA team that's tanking (again) and you realize you're going to need a new coach. You fire the current coach (about a half season too late) and replace him with a person who HAS NEVER COACHED a basketball game in his life (outside of when O'Brien was ejected).

    And you somehow believe Pacer fans will flock to games because you fired the coach who couldn't and replaced him with a coach who never was? Best o' luck with that logic.

    Why oh why wouldn't the Pacers talk with Mike Woodson or Mike Brown as incoming coach, pick one - then make announcement that O'Brien's gone and here's your new head coach with NBA experience?

    The season is lost anyway - unless you call getting blown out with a #8 seed in the playoffs - so why not bring in a REAL NBA coach to learn the players, get familiar with the Pacer front office and start building for next year?

    Oh wait, the Pacers have been building for next year for...the last 5 years.

Post a comment to this blog

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
  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

ADVERTISEMENT