Lawrence Frank nails his goal of building deep, diverse staff
In Brian Hill, he has someone who’s been an NBA head coach three times and has 40 years of coaching experience, 25 in the NBA. In John Loyer, he has someone who shares Frank’s college roots – Loyer was at Cincinnati when Frank started at Marquette – and has spent the past 11 years in various roles as an NBA assistant with three teams.
In Roy Rogers, he has a former NBA center and No. 1 draft choice who cut his teeth in coaching in the D-League for four years, then joined Frank in New Jersey and spent last season with him in Boston. In Dee Brown, he has a 12-year NBA point guard who operated his own basketball skills academy and chose coaching stints in the WNBA and D-League specifically for the opportunity to teach skill development.
In Charles Klask, he has a Michigan native who briefly interned with the Pistons before spending the last decade with the Orlando Magic, where he developed a specialty in statistical research under Stan Van Gundy.
Those five – augmented by three holdovers, in addition to Hill: player development coach Steve Hetzel, advance scout Bill Pope and video coordinator Ryan Winters – comprise Frank’s staff after a comprehensive search that included 31 inquiries made by Frank of potential candidates and working interviews in the cases of several, Brown and Hetzel among them.
“It’s like putting a team together,” Frank said. “It’s pieces of the puzzle – guys you know can work well together. Staff chemistry is huge. We wanted guys we know could work well together and yet guys who fit and embody the core values we want to have on the staff.”
The staff has been in place for several weeks already and putting in long hours at the team’s practice facility. Weekdays often start before 6 a.m. and wrap up around 9 p.m. They include a few hours spent on the basketball court going through drills as they will be taught, with the exercises videotaped for review. In late September, Frank took the staff on a four-day retreat to the MGM Grand in Detroit.
While it is not uncommon among coaching staffs to have a designated first, second and third assistant, Frank said, “I don’t want to get into numbers, but everybody has very defined responsibilities.”
Frank said he wants Hill and Loyer “thinking like a head coach,” with Hill assigned to be Frank’s sounding board on the defensive side and Loyer filling that role offensively. Rogers will be in charge of what Frank refers to as “special teams” – things like the first and last plays of each quarter, plays coming out of timeouts, free throws and two-for-one opportunities to end quarters.
Brown’s biggest areas of responsibility will be working with the team’s point guards and overall player development. Toward that end, he will work closely with Hetzel, who came to the Pistons from Cleveland two years ago with John Kuester and developed a strong rapport with Pistons young players. Hetzel will also help coach guards, while Hill and Klask will work with Rogers, who will be the primary assistant to deal with Pistons big men. Loyer will work with the team’s wing players, including those who fall under the “stretch four” category – power forwards with 3-point shooting range.
“You want to make sure you have a good balance and different backgrounds,” Frank said. “Each of those guys, independently, was the right fit and also collectively they were the right fit. There were some guys out there, real qualified, but just because of the different components we had, might not have been the best fit.”
Come back to Pistons.com in the days and weeks ahead as we go in depth with each member of Frank’s staff.