View Full Version : Encouraging words from Harter on Pacers.com

06-15-2007, 01:39 PM

Into his 70s, free to spend summers in Vermont and winters on Hilton Head Island with wife Mari, Dick Harter appeared to have what most might consider an idyllic retirement life.

One problem: he doesn't do rocking chairs.

"Basically, I never wanted to retire," said Harter, who officially began his third coaching stint with the Pacers Wednesday when Jim O'Brien's staff was finalized. "When we suddenly got terminated in Philadelphia (after the 2004-05 season), obviously I was at the stage where I could afford to retire. We had a great house on Hilton Head and a house in Vermont for the summertime and all those things.

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"It's very hard not to be coaching – very hard. This last year was better because Donnie (Walsh) and Larry (Bird) let me scout pro personnel so I went to about 40 games in Charlotte and Atlanta, and I'd write up the players that I saw. So I felt like I was tied into the league a little bit.

"But that year I didn't do anything, two years ago, that was awful."

Well, Harter should be delighted now because not only is he back on the bench at age 76 for his third stint with the Pacers, he has a major challenge on his hands. An acknowledged defensive wizard, Harter has his hands full with this bunch.

The roster, at least as presently constructed, isn't exactly bursting at the seams with long-armed, quick-footed, tough-minded stoppers.

"I think if you asked if I could make them great defenders, I'd say that might be hard," Harter said. "But can you make a good team defense? Yes. It makes sense that if five guys make up their mind they're going to stop the ball and stop the other team from scoring, one guy can't beat five.
"I used to always use Larry's old Celtics teams in my summer-camp lectures. No, you can't stop Kevin McHale in the post, you can't stop Larry Bird shooting the ball, you can't stop Danny Ainge shooting bombs – but five of us can stop any one of them at any one time. Your job is to be tied together and have five guys ready to do the job."

Harter has plenty of reason to believe it can be done because he's done it before, time and again. In fact, he did it when last he was with the Pacers, as Bird's defensive coordinator from 1997-2000.

"That wasn't exactly a foot-speed team," Harter said. "Take Mark Jackson, (Chris) Mullin, Rik Smits. I guess you'd have to say Dale (Davis) and Antonio (Davis) were pretty athletic. Jalen Rose was athletic but disinclined to maybe do some of those things. But they bought in as a team and did a good job."

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Harter was at O'Brien's right hand in Boston and Philadelphia from 2001-05 and is back with him again. Considering his first Pacers job was in 1986 under Jack Ramsay – O'Brien's father-in-law – Harter has come full circle in Indiana.

"I believe in what he believes in," Harter said of O'Brien. "He's a very good fundamentalist, believes in toughness and defense, a very good teacher. And he's a great guy to work for because he hears you out, he hears what you have to say. I've learned a lot more from him than he has from me. He's very good."

Harter would know. Having worked under Daly, Ramsay, Pat Riley, P.J. Carlesimo and Bird before hooking up with O'Brien, he has plenty of experience with premium coaches. He also shares O'Brien's desire to avoid any hint of a rebuilding process and instead focus squarely on the 2008 playoffs as a baseline goal.

"Because of the way they finished – or we finished, I guess I ought to say – last year, obviously there's a tremendous desire in the whole organization to get back on the right track, to play very hard every night out and to try to play smart," Harter said. "If you do those two things you're going to get your share of wins. If you get your share of wins you're going to get into the playoffs. And if you get in the playoffs and prepare well enough, you get a playoff series under your belt."
When Carlisle issued his statement earlier this week severing his last remaining connection with the Pacers organization by giving up his title of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, it opened the door for formal discussions with Seattle. New Sonics GM Sam Presti reportedly has narrowed his list of candidates to Carlisle, P.J. Carlesimo and Dwane Casey. Carlisle served as analyst on the Sonics' TV broadcasts during the 2000-01 season.

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Though Carlisle's methodical style might seem a bad fit in the Western Conference, Presti has said his top priority is strengthening the team's defense, an area where Carlisle enjoys a strong reputation. ESPN analyst Greg Anthony said he believes Carlisle would adapt his approach to the team's personnel because that's what he did with the Pistons and Pacers.

"That personnel wasn't conductive to running and playing open-court," Anthony told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "In essence, you have to coach what you have and that's the real issue. Rick can be controlling offensively but you want to follow the model of Dallas (Mavericks). If he can bring a defensive mindset that those teams have had, coupled with a little bit more offensively, then you have a chance to have something special. It's unfair to label him as that style of coach because that is the personnel he had."
Presti's decision on a head coach will impact the future of a former Pacers star and Seattle legend, Detlef Schrempf, who has been serving as an assistant with the Sonics. Schrempf's contract expires at the end of this month and he's not sure he has – or wants – a future with the organization in the city that is his U.S. home.

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"The way the season went last year and the way everything was with the Sonics, I would not see myself doing it again," Schrempf told the Post-Intelligencer. "To me, it was a very poorly run organization and ended up being embarrassing to everyone in the last few months the way things unfolded.

"I don't see being associated with that unless things change. I love teaching and coaching. But the situation there is just not how it should be."

While the Sonics try to determine their NBA future, Schrempf won't be restless. He's very active in business ventures and devotes quite a bit of time to his foundation, which has its annual golf outing later this month. He also has sons Alex (16) and Michael (14), who both play basketball, to keep him busy.

The teacher comment about O'Brien I particularly enjoyed.

06-15-2007, 02:11 PM
That was the best article I've read in about 3 or 4 years. Outstanding - I can't wait until next season. (not that the pacers will be that good or anything, but I know we'll play good team defense)

I cannot believe Harter didn't have a job if he wanted one - what did other organizations just think he was too old - and what in the **** did the pacers organization think about when they could have hired him as our defensive coach a year ago, or two years ago after Mike brown left. (maybe Rick felt threatened as the head coach if Harter was there, I don't know)

So many great comments from Dick. I enjopyed his comments about Rose's defense.

OK, I have to go back and re-read the article - I was too excited the first time, I probably missed some things

06-15-2007, 02:14 PM
i wonder if there was a falling out between rick and dick (sounds like some weird hardy boys inspired detective series).

06-15-2007, 02:28 PM
If you look at the coaches he coached with. Ramsey, Riley, Daly - those are three of the all time best.

Was Dick with the Pistons during the bad boy days? I'll look into that

I know Dick was with Riley in NY during the mid 90's when the Knicks were a great defensive team

OK< I looked it up, Dick was not with the Pistons during the Bad Boy days

Here is a quick career NBA bio

Harter's first job in the NBA was as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons, in the 1982-83 season. He left in 1986 to become an assistant for the Indiana Pacers. In 1988, he was hired into his first head coaching position, with the expansion Charlotte Hornets. In the team's second season Harter was fired in 1990 during mid-season when the Hornets' record was 8-33. Harter went on to work on the coaching staffs of the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics. Harter is often credited by then-Pacers head coach Larry Bird as the reason for the team's trip to the 2000 NBA Finals. Harter joined the Philadelphia 76ers' coaching staff on May 5, 2004.


06-15-2007, 02:46 PM
Yes. Donnie was debating between Dr. Jack and Harter for the HC job that summer and ended up with both.

So we were all hoping, the next time Donnie went looking for a Daly/ Pistons assistant, that it would be a good move. Instead, we got Versace-d.

06-15-2007, 04:02 PM
Jalen Rose was athletic but disinclined to maybe do some of those things.Since I was just discussing how Rose's attitude started to bug me in the 00-01 playoffs (with his half-hearted attempt at the final 3 pt shot to tie), this really stood out to me. I loved when they traded for him because I liked his skill set. After I saw him lose interest in making the most of it I didn't want him around anymore.

I doubt there was any issue that kept Harter off Rick's staff. It would simply be that Dick was with JOB at the time and Rick had his own career and staff going. Okay guys, Harter's been fired, clear out. I don't think it works that way, there are politics and politeness involved here too.

Let's keep in mind that Chuck Person was made the defensive guy, so that's who Harter would have to replace. Not sure that was even Rick's choice so much but rather a team thing.

Honestly I can't read DH's comments and think "yay, it's all going to be fine". This is his new job, off-season happy talk, and even it is tempered with goals like "making the playoffs and MAYBE winning a series". Excuse me but when I mentioned that goal last year during the tank debates I was told "why bother". I've heard that complaint used against JO and Rick, the "can't go farther" thing, yet here Dick is all but saying that's the top end they are shooting for in a pretty candid way and suddenly it's a positive sign???

Now don't be confused, I'm NOT saying give up. I appreciate and agree with Harter's honest assessment. I prefer that to smoke up the rear. I just don't read it like Mal or Buck and get the warm fuzzies. Mostly I think "I like Harter, he's a good guy and a good coach" with a dash of "if he likes JOB that's good enough for me". :)

This from the last holdout of the sunshiner brigade last season.

06-15-2007, 04:11 PM
So is the fact that we got Harter along with Jim O'Brien better then getting a guy like Iavaroni/SVG/JVG? From the looks of it, I think it would appear so. I'm excited about what Harter can do for our team defensively.

06-15-2007, 04:14 PM
Its not better than JVG/ his #1 (name escapes me)

But its better than any other rumor we heard.

06-15-2007, 04:28 PM
I don't know. Are they an interesting pair of coaches that can really drive a defensive scheme? Yes.

Do they have the tools on this team to make good on that? Iffy. It sure would be nice if they would keep Greene at least.

NapTonius Monk
06-15-2007, 04:30 PM
Did anyone else find it odd that the rifleman was at the helm of the defense last season?:-o