Frank Vogel discuss Pacers future

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April 28, 2011

Have you talked about your future with Larry Bird yet?

No, we haven't had that first interview yet. We haven't discussed my situation yet.

Do you feel you deserve the job?

 

I still think that's something that should be discussed between Larry and myself, not through the media right now. We'll sit down with Larry and see what the best direction for the Pacers is.

What are your feelings about this whole process?

 

An amazing opportunity, something I've thoroughly enjoyed, not just from my own experience getting to sit in that seat as a head coach. But just watching these guys come together, young players developing the confidence to succeed in the NBA and more importantly 15 guys coming together as a team wa sa very, very rewarding experience for me.

Can you give us your best pitch for staying?

 

I've got a great deal of confidence in my ability to coach. It's one thing I've learned over the last three months, that I can do this. I'm confident in my leadership abilities, my management abilities, my coaching abilities. It's been an honor to have these last three months, it would be an honor to coach the team in the future.

Would you like to get the decision made quickly, considering there are other job openings around the league?

It's really up to Larry and our front office. Whatever they decide. Any time you're making a decision as important as this you never want to rush into it. Whatever timetable they decide is fine with me.

What are the team's big needs?

 

If I'm able to stay, that's something that we're going to be very creative in examining all possibilities. I don't think there's one position where we say, "We really need this position." I think we've got great options at all five positions and depth at all five positions. To have the flexibility that we have with our salary cap is just something that we've got a lot of great options and we'll explore them all.

Did you have a chance to address the team after Game 5? If so, what was the message?

 

I didn't address them as a team. I met with them all individually yesterday. My message to all of them was that very rarely do you stay in the same spot in this league. You either get better or you get worse. If you think there's not someone else at your position, or another team that's not working harder than we are, then you're wrong. If you're not getting better, your getting worse, so go into this summer understanding we're all so young but there's no guarantees for improvement. Just because we took this step doesn't mean we're going to take the next step or even that we're going to stay where we're at. We've got to be hungrier this summer than we've ever been.

How did the team bounce back from its lull to put together its run late in the season and the playoffs?

 

I think when you have a young team that hasn't quite gotten over the hump yet, you deal with adversity and in this case the adversity came in the form of a brutal Texas trip, Oklahoma City, a couple of back-to-backs. We hit a very tough stretch in the schedule. We wanted to do better in that stretch. I think we lost six in a row or eight out of nine or something like that. It's just a matter of believing in yourself and understanding there's going to be bumps in the road. Every team goes through them. The Miami Heat were going through a similar stretch at the same time. The Lakers went through it earlier in the year. Every team in the NBA throughout the course of an 82-game season goes through those stretches, and we're good enough to get through it and we will get through it. At the time, we had lost a couple to some sub-.500 teams and we were approaching a stretch where we were playing I think five straight against teams with winning records. My message at the point was competition has a way of raising the level of your play and it worked out that way.

How much do you believe your future is linked with that of Larry Bird?

 

Obviously, if he's not the decision-maker then things could change, for better or worse, who knows? It depends who would come in. I think this organization needs Larry Bird more than it needs anyone and I'm hopeful that he stays on.

Did Danny Granger make the strides as a defender this season?

 

Absolutely. I think he took a lot of steps in terms of owning his individual defense, his team defense. Obviously it was not always perfect. No one's is. But he definitely had more of a focus this year and definitely improved.

When do you expect to discuss your future with Larry Bird?

 

I really don't know. It's completely up to them and whatever timetable they decided I'm completely comfortable with. You don't want to rush into anything. You've got to let the dust settle, you've got to take a step back and evaluate everything with a clear mind.

Is it hard being patient under these circumstances?

 

One of my personal best attributes that I've been blessed with is patience. I'm a patient guy.

How was this experience different than what you expected?

 

I expected to succeed. I expected the changes I was going to implement would work. I feel like they did. I thought it fell in line with what my expectations were when I took over. I believed in the young guys we have on the team, that if we went with them, the way we utilized them and changed our style of play, I believed it would work and I think it did work. I was hopeful it would've worked better, to be honest with you. I think we could've made a serious run this year and I think this group has a high ceiling for what they can achieve in the future.

Would you like to stay?

 

I would love to stay. Not only would I love to be a head coach again but this organization in particular I've fallen in love with even before I became a head coach. I love the community that I live in in Carmel, the village of West Clay, our neighborhood. We've really been embraced here. This is where I want to raise my family. I would really love the opportunity to stay here.

If you walked away tomorrow, what would be your stamp on this team?

 

Just getting some of the young guys to believe in themselves and understand they can do it at this level. And the fact that we came together as a team and that doesn't always happen in the NBA, or college, or whatever basketball you're talking about. It doesn't always happen where guys pull for each other, genuinely care for each other, fight for each other, work for each other and really just come together as a team in the true sense of the word. That's probably what I'm most proud of with this group.

Upon reflection is there anything you would've done differently?

 

There's a lot I would do differently. Every time you lose a game you feel like you should do something differently. If we don't score down the stretch I feel like I should've called a different play. If we do get scored on I feel like I should've guarded a different way. I look at myself more than any of our players, more than any of our front office, more than anything. I'm probably my hardest critic.

What does Roy Hibbert need to do in order to become a consistent force?

 

He just has to stay hungry. With all our players we talked about specific things that need to be worked on but I'm not going to get into specific things. He just needs to stay hungry and get hungrier. He had a great offseason last year and it led to some improvement but every player in the league is going to get better or is going to get worse. If he doesn't have the same mindset that he has got to be every bit as hungry he can take a step back. I have confidence that he'll remain as hungry as he is. He's a very driven kid and he wants to be great and he's going to be an All-Star some day.

While you and Larry wait to see what happens next, so do the fans. What do you tell them?

 

First I tell them thank you  because I hear the support and I'm so grateful that they've gotten behind this team the way they have and the way they've supported me personally. My message to the fans is it's the right thing to do to take a step back, evaluate with a clear mind and trust in Larry Bird. He's not Larry Legend because of his physical abilities to play basketball. He's got a great basketball mind and he's the one that should be making the decisions and whatever he decides is going to be what's best for the Indiana Pacers.