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OakMoses
04-22-2008, 03:55 PM
O’Brien has been much maligned for his in game decisions throughout the season. I agree with many of the points that have been made, but I wanted to give two reasons why I like O’Brien: Player Development and Leadership.
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Player Development
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One of the of most common complaints I heard on this board during the Carlisle</ST1:p era was the Pacers lack of ability/effort in the area of player development. While Rick was very good at putting players in a position and role where they could succeed, we rarely saw players expanding their game.<O:p</O:p
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I think this may have changed a bit under O'Brien. We've seen significant improvement in a number of players as the season has progressed.
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Danny Granger<O:p</O:p
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Over the last 33 games, Danny is averaging 22.3 ppg, 6.2 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.4 stl, and 1 blk, all while guarding the other teams best perimeter player. Over the entire season he's seen significant statistical improvent in rebounds, blocks, and steals. His 3pt and FT %'s have increased even though he's shooting more often from both places. His FG% has only gone down 1% even though he's taking 5 more shots per game than last year. Much of this can be attributed to Danny working on his game in the offseason, but we've seen significant in-season improvement also. He's become far more comfortable and aggressive taking the ball to the hole. You rarely see him just hang out at the 3 point line and wait for the ball. He's developed a good midrange jumper and has become adept at finding ways to get it off even when he's covered fairly well. We've also seen him become much better at passing and facilitating the offense for others. This is evidenced by his 3 assist/game average during March. Another encouraging sign is that while March and April have been by far his best offensive months statistically, they've been his two lowest turnover months of the season.
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Mike Dunleavy
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Dunleavy had what was by far the best statistical season of his career. It’s easy to look at all the points the Pacers scored this season and attribute his success to this fact. There is some truth to this. What we need to look at, however, is how Dunleavy’s game changed over the course of the season. There were two main ways that Dunleavy improved as the season went on: aggressiveness and consistency. Aggressiveness: During the second half of the season Dunleavy became much more aggressive about taking the ball to the basket. As a result, he averaged nearly 6 free throw attempts per game over the last 36 games of the year. He also took nearly 3 more shots per game than he was earlier in the season. Consistency: A common complaint about Dunleavy was his knack for following up a great game with poor one. Often during these poor games he’d be completely passive. This also changed over the course of the season. During the first 46 games of the season, there were 22 games where Mike took 12 or fewer shots (47%). During the last 36 games there were 9 such games (25%). Over the same two stretches, there was one game in the final 36 where Dunleavy scored 10 or fewer points compared to 7 over the first 46.

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Troy Murphy<O:p</O:p
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Before this season if the Pacers were a reality show, Troy Murphy is the only Pacer who’d have given Jamaal Tinsley a run for his money as the first one to be voted off. Over the course of this season however, Troy</ST1:p has shown that he can be a valuable player, as long as your willing to disregard his ridiculous contract. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comhttp://www.pacersdigest.com/apache2-default/ /><st1:City w:st=<ST1http://www.pacersdigest.com/apache2-default/ /><st1:City w:st=<ST1:pTroy</ST1:p</st1:City>’s breakout came during the months of February and March. There was one major change in his game at this time: he stopped standing around the 3 point line and started taking the ball to the bucket. The results were impressive. During these two months he averaged over 15 ppg, shot 48% from the floor, 46% from the 3 pt. line, and nearly doubled his free throw attempts.
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There are other examples that could be found, but these three players are guys who all changed their games during the season and received favorable results. I believe that O’Brien and his staff are the reason for these changes, and that their hands-on teaching and honesty about what they want from the players will continue to force guys to become better.
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Leadership
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Contrary to the optimistic predictions of many of us (myself included) before the season started, this team overachieved this season. The Vegas over/under before the season was 31.5 wins. We blew that away, and I firmly believe that no one knows more about sports than Vegas. If you still don’t believe me, look at the standings at all the teams with at least as much talent, if not more, than we had that achieved less:
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<st1:City w:st="on">New York</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">New Jersey</st1:State>, <st1:City w:st="on">Chicago</st1:City>, <st1:City w:st="on">Milwaukee</st1:City>, <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1:pCharlotte</ST1:p</st1:City>
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I truly believe that this is due to O’Brien’s ability as a leader. We played the bulk of this season without our best big (JO) and our best guard (Tins, Dun is a forward). In spite of this fact the Pacers played hard every night and made a strong playoff push at the end of the season. I know our schedule had a lot to do with that, but there were teams like <st1:City w:st="on">Chicago</st1:City> and <st1:State w:st="on"><ST1:pNew Jersey </ST1:p</st1:State>who faded down the stretch. O’Brien was the guy who kept the players motivated and hungry during this stretch. We were all impressed with how Danny and the rest of the guys responded when the playoffs were on the line. I think it’s important to give some credit to the coach as well.

LoneGranger33
04-22-2008, 04:31 PM
Is it just me, or are there a lot of smilies up in here?

Shade
04-22-2008, 04:50 PM
All I have to say is:

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McKeyFan
04-22-2008, 08:31 PM
I like the post.

I do think JOB has some real props to receive in motivating players and this is certainly in contrast to Rick.

I will never get over the time, was it summer?, where Rick said he was willing to come back if JO and Stephen Jackson would endorse him. That kind of sucking up to players just gets my goat.

While JOB may not be completely free of that, he seems to have a lot less. I think he commands respect from players, and that is a big part of them being motivated to play for him.

I think Diener could be added to your list.

I think Ike is a fly in the ointment to your theory, but it still stands.

Naptown_Seth
04-23-2008, 12:19 AM
Remember what Ike and Graham and Quis and Rush and Owens and Hulk's games were like to start the year?

Totally different now. Great development.

A) Dun got his 3pt shot back and better than ever

B) Danny appears to be devoted to trying to improve his game regardless, and some have even suggested that he mildly regressed since year 1 at times (defense especially)

C) I don't think Diener's game changed much either. He was brought in to be a backup PG and in the end that's the caliber of game he brought. In fact his 3pt shot was down.

D) JOB just did what he always does and that's run a VERY TIGHT ROTATION. Sure he played around in the first few months as he figured out the roster, but by the final months guys that would at least get a few looks from Rick were sitting out weeks at a time.

AesopRockOn
04-23-2008, 12:37 AM
Isn't it a little early in the summer for Kool-Aid?

Infinite MAN_force
04-23-2008, 01:55 AM
Remember what Ike and Graham and Quis and Rush and Owens and Hulk's games were like to start the year?

Totally different now. Great development.

A) Dun got his 3pt shot back and better than ever

B) Danny appears to be devoted to trying to improve his game regardless, and some have even suggested that he mildly regressed since year 1 at times (defense especially)

C) I don't think Diener's game changed much either. He was brought in to be a backup PG and in the end that's the caliber of game he brought. In fact his 3pt shot was down.

D) JOB just did what he always does and that's run a VERY TIGHT ROTATION. Sure he played around in the first few months as he figured out the roster, but by the final months guys that would at least get a few looks from Rick were sitting out weeks at a time.


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Tell 'em Steve-Dave!!!!!