Writing the title of this thread was a little tricky.
There might not be anything else so many of us can agree on, except we are glad Dick Harter is back. I didn't know he scouted some games for the Pacers last season. I'm just so excited that we'll have a team defensive approach, but this past season was anything but
Harter ready to go back to work with Pacers
By Mark Montieth
June 6, 2007
Two years. Dick Harter still finds it difficult to believe it has been that long since he had a coaching job.
He had drawn a paycheck for coaching basketball for 50 winters, from the time he got his first job at Germantown (Pa.) Academy in 1955 until he was shooed out the door in 2005 with the rest of Jim O'Brien's staff after one winning season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now, assuming the details of a contract can be agreed upon, Harter will return to Indianapolis to help work with a defense in need of improvement. Reached by telephone at his home in Hilton Head, S.C., the 76-year-old coaching purist couldn't wait to get started again.
"I'm so excited about going to see Butler games again," he said.
Harter will know the way to Hinkle Fieldhouse. He was an assistant to Jack Ramsay when he coached the Pacers from 1986-88, and an assistant to Larry Bird when he coached them from 1997-2000. He later assisted O'Brien in Boston and Philadelphia.
He's ready. All those golf lessons weren't helping his game much, and watching games on television was no substitute for sitting on a bench. He got a foot back in the game last season when he scouted 38 NBA games for the Pacers and wrote reports on various players.
"That made it somewhat livable, but you miss being on the bench and you miss being with a team," he said.
Harter's role with O'Brien won't be the same as with Bird, under whom he had sole charge of the defense. O'Brien, veteran of 30 seasons of coaching, takes a more hands-on approach, but he still considers Harter a mentor and sounding board.
"Dick has a tremendous way of keeping you focused on what you're trying to accomplish defensively," O'Brien said.
"But to limit his impact just to that I don't think is doing him justice. He has great relationships with the players and has a way of keeping them zeroed in on what we're trying to accomplish."
O'Brien and Harter trace their basketball roots to Philadelphia, and share similar philosophies about style of play and work ethic. Both advocate a strict, aggressive man-to-man defense and consider that the foundation of winning.
"We don't argue on what you should do," Harter said. "You've got to be disciplined and you've got to be tough."
Bird expects Harter to bring those elements, along with stability, to a defense that has operated under three assistants in the past three seasons: Chuck Person, Kevin O'Neill and Mike Brown.
"I think we can be a lot better," said Bird, who emphasized he has not yet reached an agreement with Harter. "(Harter's) defense is predicated on the fact it's a team defense. If you get beat at the point guard position, you have help. It's not a confusing defense, but all the parts have to be moving at the same time."
Harter's defense set franchise lows in points allowed (89.9), field goal percentage allowed (43.2) and 3-point percentage allowed (31.6) in the 1997-98 season.
"Those guys tried like (heck)," Harter recalled. "They might not have had quick feet, but they had good heads and good hearts."
The defensive 3-point percentage record still stands, a testament to Harter's emphasis on challenging perimeter shots. The points-allowed record was broken and the field goal percentage was tied by a more athletic 2003-04 team, led by Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest.
Pacers' opponents averaged 98 points per game last season while shooting .457 from the field and .372 from the 3-point line.
A return to basics would be welcomed.
The Pacers' Dick Harter-led defense in 1997-98 set team records in three categories. Compare that with last year's numbers:
1997-98 Stat 2006-07
89.9 Points allowed 98
43.2 FG % allowed 45.7
31.6 3-pt. FG % allowed 37.2