Jim O'Brien became the 13th coach in Pacers history on May 31, 2007.
O'Brien, 55, previously spent four seasons as the Boston Celtics' head coach, compiling a 139-119 record (.539) with playoff appearances in 2002 and 2003, including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. After coaching the Celtics, O'Brien coached the Philadelphia 76ers for one season in 2004-05, compiling a 43-39 record and making the NBA Playoffs. He then spent two seasons writing an online column for ESPN.com, The Insider.
O'Brien has been in the coaching profession since 1974-75, serving as an assistant coach at Wheeling Jesuit College, Pembroke State College, the University of Maryland, Saint Joseph's University, the University of Oregon, the New York Knicks, the University of Kentucky and the Celtics. He has also been a head coach for Wheeling Jesuit and the University of Dayton.
O'Brien played collegiately at Saint Joseph's University and is in that school's Hall of Fame as well as the Big Five (Philadelphia) Hall of Fame. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Saint Joseph's in 1974 and received his MBA from the University of Maryland in 1981.
On Wednesday, O'Brien stopped by Pacers.com to chat live with fans, so check out what the new coach had to say about his style of offense and much more.
Kyle (Holly Springs): What player, if you could only choose one, are you most excited about coaching and why?
Jim O'Brien: I would say it would be Jermaine O'Neal. I know there's been talk about trading him, but we think he's a huge factor at both ends of the court. He protects the basket, takes charges, blocks shots and he's been the No. 1 scoring option for the Pacers for a number of years.
Josh Sandstrom (Pittsboro, IN): How do you plan to utilize Marquis Daniels. Do you envision him as a point guard or more of a wing player?
Jim O'Brien: I think Marquis can play both the 1 and the 2. He's more of a 2-1 than a 1-2, but we can use him in both. I think with Marquis and Jamaal Tinsley, the more up-tempo we play, the better off both of those players will be. I want to get Marquis in situations where he's one-on-one.
Jim (Ft. Wayne, IN): What aspects of Jamaal Tinsley's game are most important for him (and the Pacers) to succeed within your coaching schemes?
Jim O'Brien: Jamaal has such a strong ability to handle the ball that the more he can penetrate, under control, into the lane, the more opportunities he's gonna create for himself and his teammates. An up-tempo game will suit Jamaal better than a slower tempo.
Steve Indianpolis: What Do Think Of The Potential of Danny
Granger And Shawn Willams
Jim O'Brien: I've had an opportunity to work with Shawn, today as a matter of fact, with his skill level. He really has an ability to stretch the court for an inside presence like Jermaine O'Neal. We'll need to be patient as he learns the NBA game, but I think he has a very strong future as a Pacer. Danny is further along and was challenged last year to be one of the key weapons behind Jermaine and he responded well. We expect, with a summer of good conditioning, that Danny could be in for a breakout year next year.
Eric Matz (Indianapolis): In your previous NBA coaching stints, which season do you feel, personally, you did the best job, and why?
Jim O'Brien: It's a good question, I think we had fairly solid years each time I was a head coach, but my first full year with the Celtics was probably the best, when we went from 27th in the league in FG defense to third and not only did we make the playoffs after a long drought, but we won two playoff series where we were probably underdogs in both series. We grew alot in one year, so that would probably make that our best year.
Nick (Dallas):: Last year the team finished last in field goal percentage. What needs to change to improve the team's offensive production?
Jim O'Brien: There are a number of things. No. 1 is to create a better tempo that will have us attacking before the defense can set themselves. Rick Carlisle is a good set offense coach, but I prefer a higher tempo and will challenge our team..on a miss shot and a made shot...to get the ball across halfcourt in three seconds, which should prevent the defense from setting themselves, so we'll be more unpredictable than we were in the past.
361 - Dallas: Ike Diogu is an exciting young talent. However, his minutes have been limited. How many minutes do you see Ike averaging and what do you foresee his role with the Pacers?
Jim O'Brien: Ike's minutes, like everyone else on the team, will be based on his performance. His role is yet to be determined. Certainly he is a young man who is talented with the ball in his hands down low, but becomes less effective farther away from the basket. He would be a viable option backing up Jermaine, which would guarantee him double-digit minutes but he'll have to compete with David Harrison for those minutes.
Tony in Houston: Welcome to Indy coach, I'm a native of Indy and am glad to hear your talk about being flexible and developing a style that is conducive to the roster that you have. With that being said, as the roster currently stands, who do you see as the players who are capable of playing the 2 guard position?
Jim O'Brien: We have a few options. Danny Granger would be one. Dunleavy. Marquis Daniels. They all have the ability to play the two-guard spot.
Evan (Chicago): In your introductory new conference you talked about how your offensive game plan involves shooting a high volume of three point shots. Since Reggie Miller's retirement, the Pacers have not had a player (let alone several) that can make the 3-point shot with any consistency. Doesn't your offensive approach contradict the ability of players you've been given?
Jim O'Brien: We think that we have players that can shoot the three. Danny is a good three-point shooter. Shawn Williams can shoot the three. Dunleavy, although he's been streaky, can shoot it. Troy Murphy can knock down threes. Even though it isn't a specialty of Jamaal's, he's shot at 37-percent for two years, so that's something we can work on. One of the big things in having a team being successful with the three-ball, is having a coach committed to it. We don't want to take bad three-point shots, our definition of a good three is when we have a standstill open three-pointer.
Hasan (marietta,GA): where do you see the pacers next season
Jim O'Brien: I would say we are a team that if we continue to develop our young players like Danny and Shawn and Dunleavy, even though he's been in the league for awhile and stay healthy..guys like Jermaine and Jamaal, we have the talent and ability to be competing in the NBA playoffs, and that is our intention.
Jim O'Brien: I want to thank everybody for their questions today, it's always a pleasure to interact with our fans and I look forward to doing this again soon.