Vogel quick to show he's no O'Brien clone
After the Indiana Pacers shootaround Monday morning, new coach Frank Vogel huddled with members of the team's public relations staff.
As a few suggestions were made concerning his media appearances, Vogel said, "Before I commit to that, let me ask you this: Is that going to upset our guys?"
As he steps into his first head coaching role, replacing the dismissed Jim O'Brien, Vogel seems to have his players' interest at the forefront.
The Pacers interim coach had excellent communication with the players during his 31/2 years as an assistant. He plans to keep that as the head coach.
"The way I deal with players now is no different than how I've dealt with them my whole coaching career," Vogel, 37, said as he prepared his team for Monday's game against Toronto, a 104-93 win. "I try to be upfront, try to show them that I'm on their side, that I'm trying to help them do whatever they can do to succeed in their careers.
"I think that's the difference in pro coaching versus college or high school, where you're the dictator. In the NBA, you have to sell to these guys that you're in their corner to help them, to organize and tie their whole team together. They all know that winning helps their career, and I want them to know I'm on their side and in their corner."
That's one way Vogel's approach differs from O'Brien, who was much more authoritarian.
"Coach (O'Brien) had a very strong voice, so it's a little different without him," Pacers starting shooting guard Mike Dunleavy said. "Frank has been a little more involved this year, especially with the younger guys, and guys like me, Danny (Granger) and Jeff (Foster), who have been around him for 31/2 years, we have a good rapport with him, so it should be a seamless transition."
While Vogel has been with O'Brien throughout his coaching career, Vogel stressed he is not a clone. He and O'Brien had healthy disagreements at times over approaches to using players.
Vogel has more of a positive voice while O'Brien would criticize players publicly.
"I think there's going to be some different messages," Vogel said. "In terms of the delivery, I have to be myself. Coach O'Brien and I have different personalities, as does every human being. We're close friends and always will be, but I have to be myself."
O'Brien handled most coaching tasks himself, from writing game keys on the marker board to handling pregame video setup in the locker room. Vogel plans to delegate.
It was evident Monday. Vogel listened to his assistants at the start of long timeouts before talking to the players, something O'Brien didn't do.
"A lot of the advice I've gotten the past 24 hours has come along those lines: 'Don't think you can do it all yourself,' " Vogel said. "We've got a great coaching staff, so I intend to use them."
Vogel handled a media blitz Sunday and Monday, doing 10 interviews and five radio station appearances in 24 hours.
As for strategy, he said Monday he wants to re-establish center Roy Hibbert in the post and have Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough turn a perceived weakness -- power forward -- into a strength. He also wants a consistent rotation, which hasn't been seen this year.
Vogel's positive reinforcement was evident Monday. When Hibbert forced two Toronto turnovers, Vogel yelled to Hibbert, "Give me more of that, Roy, give me more."
Vogel met one-on-one with every player Monday, meetings he and the players said went well. Hibbert, whose playing time varied wildly under O'Brien, seemed to regain his stride, getting 24 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.
"It's great because he has confidence in me," Hibbert said. "I had that at one time in myself, but I lost that after a while. You make a mistake and it's hard when you come out of the game and you're on the bench half the game and don't get to make an impact. It's nice, but it's a responsibility and I'm willing to take that on."
You can't help but like and root this guy on. He is exactly the type of guy that needs to coach this team right now. He adds stability and positivity into an environment that has been wholly unstable and negative. He really does care about these guys.