Offseason gives new staff opportunity to get up to speed
Indianapolis (Aug. 4, 2011) -- This offseason being more off than usual, Dan Burke got creative when he felt the urge to exercise his coaching chops.
He volunteered for a week at the Pacers Hoops Academy, working with youngsters at the youth basketball clinic at venues around the Indianapolis area, "refreshing myself," he said, "on why I got into this silly business."
For Frank Vogel's two newest assistant coaches, however, the summer downtime offers much-needed opportunity. Brian Shaw spent the past 12 years as a player and assistant coach in the Western Conference. Jim Boylen has been coaching at the college level the past six seasons.
For both, this time offers a welcome opportunity to get to know their new team as well as each other.
"What it will enable me to do is kind of familiarize myself with the personnel on this team and the style of play, just watch a lot of film and get to know the players," said Shaw, who spent the past seven years as an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Lakers. "I'm not very familiar because this team is in the Eastern Conference and (the Lakers) only had to play this team twice a year.
"This time now that nothing is really going on will allow me an opportunity to watch a lot of film and familiarize myself with the tendencies and strengths of this team and the style of play and what have you. … I have some work to do in terms of getting up to speed on everybody."
Boylen was the head coach at the University of Utah the past four seasons. Prior to that, he spent two years assisting Tom Izzo at Michigan State. His last NBA experience came in 2004-05 with the Milwaukee Bucks on Terry Porter's staff.
Boylen has 13 years in the NBA, including 11 with the Houston Rockets, so his mental database just needs some updating.
"I also have to get to know our team better. I have to get to know the league better," Boylen said. "I kind of have a twofold work agenda right now: I've been studying the league and studying our team. I've been watching film in the hotel room and also in the office. I've spent a lot of time with Danny Burke already, our style, our system of play. I've always had a defensive foundation and a big man foundation so I've been studying those things the most."
Burke, who has been with the Pacers since 1997, has been helping with the transition. He served as the lead assistant during Vogel's 38-game run as interim coach last season but that role now belongs to Shaw. Not only must Shaw and Boylen learn the Pacers and their opponents, they must learn their new boss.
"For me, personally, I have to learn what's important to coach Vogel," Boylen said. "I have to learn what he wants, where I can help, where I can fill in and help him with the way we want to play in the season coming up."
Fully respecting the experience of his assistants -- the three have a combined 34 years of NBA coaching experience and seven championship rings -- Vogel wants their input as the staff hashes out the plans for the 2011-12 season and beyond.
"We need to get familiar with each other as a new staff, sharing ideas, watching our own game tapes and making sure we're understanding the best use of this team and being on the same page with all of our philosophies," Vogel said. "There's a lot to do. In any summer, I've always had the mindset that no matter what time of year it is there's never nothing to do if you're sincere about bettering yourself and your craft."
It's not quite business as usual but the coaching staff does have plenty to do during this otherwise quiet summer.