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By: Yannis Koutroupis Last Updated: 10/11/10 5:18 PM ET | 800 times read
Adjust font size:Focusing On D: The Indiana Pacers have their sights set on ending a four-year playoff drought this season. After a crazy summer that saw the powers shift in the Eastern Conference the Pacers feel like there are a couple spots in the top eight available for the taking.
The acquisition of point guard Darren Collison is one of the main reasons why the Pacers feel like they could be playoff bound. He brings a different dynamic to the lead guard position than they've had in the past and is already impressing head coach Jim O'Brien.
"I think he's going to be terrific for us," said O'Brien to HOOPSWORLD. "We didn't expect him to be further ahead than where he is right now. We've only been at this two weeks. He's a terrific learner and I think he's going to be a great leader. We know he can produce double-doubles. He's getting a feel for his teammates right now. He has to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses, and then he'll be able to orchestrate our offense at the level we'd like him to.
"He is a guy that can space the court. He shoots the ball effectively from the three. He's very, very good off the pick-and-roll from the standpoint of being a scorer and finding an open teammate. If he gets back to his UCLA defense he'll be able to impact that side of the ball too. He got into some bad habits his first year as a defender. He looks small, but he has long arms and great instincts. We're hoping that once he understands our defensive concepts, which I'm sure are very similar to what Ben Howland does at UCLA then I think he'll be a point guard that is effective on both ends."
Collison isn't the only Pacer being asked to improve defensively; they all are. The 103 points a night they gave up in 2009-2010 was too much and if they are going to improve on their 32-50 record they're going to have to be much better on that side of the floor. Coach O'Brien has seen some strides so far, but still sees a long way to go.
"The defense after two games pleased me," said O'Brien before watching his team let the Houston Rockets put up 126. "I thought that we were further along than I thought we were going to be. Give some credit to our point guards for doing a good job. Posey is a great team defensive player that knows everything there is to know. Paul George has long arms and gets his hands on a lot of balls. We're doing effective things defensively, but we're not rebounding the ball. If you can't rebound the ball and come up with the loose ones then it's all for naught. That's definitely an area for concern and one that we have to win the battle over. If we do I think we'll be very good at protecting the paint because all of our guys will take charges. It is a key because I think our offense will come."
With a 20-point scorer in All-Star forward Danny Granger, Collison, an improved Roy Hibbert and a healthy Mike Dunleavy there's plenty of reason to believe that the offense will indeed take care of itself. It's getting stops consistently on defense that will lead to a major increase in the win category for the Pacers and that's not something they did Saturday night against the Rockets.
"We have to continue to gel more and be connected when we're out there," pointed out Hibbert. "Sometimes we're not one team. Sometimes we're great and sometimes we don't look so good."
"We have to continue getting better defensively," added Tyler Hansbrough. "It's early on but it's a big key for this team."
The Pacers have obviously bought into the importance of defense, but as Hansbrough stated it's still very early. It has to remain a priority because there are a ton of opportunities to take plays off defensively throughout the course of an 82-game season. If they just talk the talk rather than walking the walk they'll find themselves right back in the lottery and on the outside looking in of the playoffs for a fifth-consecutive season.
also found this in a chat on hoopsworld i agree with everything he says.
Cain in New Zealand:
Do you think that Darren Collison will figure out the offense in time for the season? How effective do you think he can be?
I wouldn't worry too much about Collison. He's smart and he knows how to get the ball to where his teammates need it to be effective. What I think does need to happen is perhaps the offense needs to change just a bit to put him in a better position to succeed.
Too many coaches just run their offense regardless of their personal. You have to be flexible to work with what you have and take advantage of what makes a particular group effective. If the Pacers can't make it work with Collison at the point, they have other problems.
I guess that answers the second half of your question too - I think Collison will be a stud.