Experienced Boylen a good fit for Vogel's staff
Indianapolis (Aug. 1, 2011) --
In a coaching career that spans more than two decades, Jim Boylen has developed a reputation for building strong defenses, developing big men and holding players accountable both on and off the court -- not to mention winning.
Those qualities make him a perfect fit for head coach Frank Vogel's staff with the Pacers.
"The number one thing is I'm drawn to his championship experience," said Vogel. "He was Rudy Tomjanovich's right-hand man when the Rockets won back-to-back championships (in 1994 and '95). That's what we're trying to build here, to be one of the elite teams in the league and he's going to help us do that."
"I feel like can gameplan, I can teach, I can develop, I can support, I can give a suggestion," Boylen said in his first interview since joining Brian Shaw and Dan Burke on the staff. "As an assistant you give suggestions, as a head coach you make decisions. As a head coach, you're the filter of the suggestions.
"I've been on both sides of it now which can only help become a good assistant and a supportive assistant. I'm not ashamed of being called a good assistant. The one thing this franchise has been built on is work ethic and being a soldier and I'm excited to do that."
Boylen, 46, has extensive experience at both the college and pro levels. He started out with Jud Heathcoate at Michigan State, returned to the Spartans under Tom Izzo and in between spent 13 years on NBA benches, including 11 in Houston in an era that produced two NBA titles.
His last job was his first as a head coach, at the University of Utah. The first two seasons couldn't have gone much better, as he guided the Utes to a 24-10 record, the rare double of Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament championships, and a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- at the time, the highest seeding ever for an MWC program.
But the next two seasons produced losing records, and that was that.
Despite the mixed results, it's clear Boylen has much to be proud about from his time in Utah.
"I felt like we did a lot of good things there," he said. "First of all, we graduated every guy. We had a 3.2 grade point average as long as I was the head coach. I held my guys accountable to school. We did win a championship but I felt we were rebuilding it the right way and I was really hoping for another year to get the team back to where it needed to be but that didn't happen.
"I think what you learn from it is you review it, you play it back in your mind and maybe there are decisions you would've made different, or maybe they were decisions you would've kept the same. The one thing I'm proud of is I put the guys first and I tried to hold them accountable to their dreams and push them. I wouldn't change that no matter where I was or what's happened because that's what you have to do."
A soft-spoken man off the court, Boylen is known for his intensity and passion between the lines. He joins what could be the team's strongest coaching staff since the late-1990s when Larry Bird was assisted by Rick Carlisle and Dick Harter, with Burke serving as the video coordinator.
Shaw brings five championship rings, three as a player and two as an assistant under Phil Jackson with the Lakers. Burke has been to the NBA Finals with the Pacers. Boylen has his two rings with the Rockets.
"The way they played through the post with Hakeem Olajuwon, making teams pick their poison whether to double or not double, he's got extensive experience with that offensive system, which is similar to what we're trying to build with smash-mouth basketball," Vogel said. "He was in charge of every scout for eight years on the defensive side of the bal for Rudy T and obviously when you're getting into winning championships you've got extensive experience with making playoff adjustments series after series and going deep into the playoffs.
"He's just a great guy who I think will very much relate to our players and bring more of the positive energy approach we're trying to build here."
Like Vogel, all of the assistants broke into coaching as video coordinators. All are in their mid-40s, soft-spoken but firm in their convictions and passionate about their chosen profession.
"It's a strong (staff) and it's been put together to complement each other, to support each other, to in some ways test each other, which I think is important," Boylen said. "Varied backgrounds, varied experiences but all well-versed in winning and what it takes."
Supporting the head coach doesn't mean agreeing with everything he says. In fact, Vogel not only welcomes open discussion about important decisions, he demands it from his staff.
"I was raised where you hash it out in your meetings and you filter through what's good for your team, what's not, what direction you should go, and you can disagree in those meetings," Boylen said. "You can throw it up on the wall and see if it sticks, see who agrees and who doesn't and fight it out. That's part of your belief system as a staff.
"But once that decision is made, once the head coach makes his decision on what we're going to teach, how we're going to play, what's important, what's valued, I'm going to try to coach that to the best of my ability and support the coach and the players."