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McRoberts, Hansbrough Dig In At Power Forward

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

February 3, 2011

They are as different as Carolina and Duke, but those two shades of blue fit nicely into the Pacers' new spectrum.

One of the first moves Frank Vogel made when he took the reigns as interim coach was the installation of Duke's Josh McRoberts and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough as the tag-team rotation at power forward, and the shelving of the small lineup that had wreaked havoc with the Pacers' frontcourt rotations.

"I've got a great deal of belief in Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts and they're going to own the power forward position," said Vogel. "They're going to use their energy, their intensity, their passion, their speed, their athleticism to really make that a position of strength of ours.

"They're young. They're going to make mistakes. But they're going to make mistakes hard, going hard and I can live with those mistakes. That's going to be one of the biggest changes in the identity of this team."

Dividing all 96 available minutes in the first two games (58 for starter McRoberts, 38 for backup Hansbrough), the two have combined for 37 points and 26 rebounds in victories over the Raptors and Cavs.

So far, so good.

For McRoberts, who had been largely banished from the rotation by the small lineup, the change has breathed life back into his season.

"I feel good about it. I feel confident," he said. "I know Frank has a lot of confidence in all of us and I think I have a great relationship with him just from being here, working with him a lot over the last three years. …

"I think we bring different things. Tyler's definitely a better scorer than me, a better mid-range shooter looking more to score, where I'm looking to probably facilitate more, get Roy (Hibbert) the ball, get Danny (Granger) the ball. We're definitely going to bring different looks."

Hansbrough also welcomes the change.

"Before, we didn't really know what was going on and now that Frank has come out and kind of clarified everything for us it's (a matter of) us going out there, trying to improve and doing what we can do to try to help the team," he said. "I think it's great. Josh does a lot of things, he's a really good passer, which I'm trying to improve that area to bring it to my game, so it's good to throw a different mixture in there."

McRoberts will remain the starter for the time being. The Pacers are 13-10 with the lineup of Darren Collison, Mike Dunleavy, Granger, McRoberts and Hibbert, so breaking up that combination would be a risk. And Vogel likes having the more offense-minded Hansbrough coming off the bench to provide scoring punch to the second unit.

"I don't know if it's going to stay that way," Vogel said. "We'll just see how it's going to go but those two guys are going to own the power forward position."