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Catching Up With Coach Vogel: The Not-So-Offseason

by Scott Agness

September 25, 2012

Frank Vogel recognizes the importance of the offseason, not only for himself and his staff, but the players. Any player or staff member will tell you in the NBA, there really isn’t an offseason.

The Pacers played late into the 2011-12 season, losing in the second round to the Miami Heat. Team officials then had to decide on their plan moving forward – who they need to re-sign, who they will let go and what positions need to be addressed.

June is all about the draft. The Pacers brought in about two dozen players and ultimately took Miles Plumlee with the 26th pick, and moved up to draft Orlando Johnson at No. 36. July is dedicated to free agency and then the coaches have a couple months to look back at the previous season, watch film and make schematic changes.

When not at Bankers Life Fieldhouse working with his staff, helping players or at speaking engagements these last couple of months, Vogel has taken full advantage of valuable time with family.

"We took a vacation to St. Martin with my family and some friends of ours and had a blast down there," Vogel said. "That was our big vacation. I’ve spent a lot of time with my children and my wife – getting them to the soccer practices, the gymnastics and those sorts of things."

And it was clear in his voice that he’s revved up for another season.

Indiana returns eight of fifteen players from last season and their entire coaching and support staff. Joining the team at camp for the first time in a one week will be the two draft picks, a couple of free agent signings, one acquisition, and a handful of guys vying for the final two spots.

Last month, Danny Granger got most of the team back together and welcomed the new additions, along with the staff out to his new home in Los Angeles. The time on the court was beneficial but the priority was off the court, to get closer as a team.

"It was fantastic," Coach Vogel said of the team reuniting out west. “We talk about togetherness all the time throughout the season, so I told the guys it was about summertime togetherness as it was about the workouts.

"We just wanted to spend some time with these guys, have everybody go out to dinners and do some fun things where guys aren’t worried about playing time, the game, or shoot around the next morning. It’s just a chance for everybody to have some fun together where the pressure of the NBA season isn’t really getting to anyone."

Great teams have players that take leadership roles; some purposely and others instinctively. This was an area the team has struggled with in the post-Reggie Miller era, but not so much anymore.

"These guys were filled with intensity," said Vogel. "You got guys like Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Paul George setting the tone on day one of the workouts, competing like its game six of the NBA playoffs. It was a great culture, great atmosphere and it leaves me to believe even stronger that we’re ready to take an even bigger step than we did last year."

Likewise, I’ve been impressed with the number of guys in the gym, working hard every time I’ve been at The Fieldhouse. I thought this offseason, more so than in previous years, players hung around and have actively worked on their games. Vogel didn’t believe it was dramatically different from previous summers but he did acknowledge a renewed focus. This team seems to understand how close they are to the top and they’re driven to narrow the gap.

"Summer time belongs to the players so they have the freedom to be in their hometowns, or be here, or wherever… It’s been a pretty steady summer but one that we feel very good about the determination to improve in the offseason. That’s what we just talked to our guys the most – working on their games and making sure your coming in, in top shape."

You see, the offseason for the Pacers isn’t as quiet as you would think. Players have been getting after it in the weight room and on the court with basketball trainers and their fellow teammates.

It’s no surprise why the team is eager for the upcoming season. There’s quite a lot to look forward to. They are focused, determined, healthy, and a good mixture of veterans and young talent.

"I can’t wait to get started," Vogel proclaimed excitedly. "We’re watching tape and fine-tuning the things with our assistants every day… I’m fired up inside!"

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