Opportunity awaits confident Harrison

David Harrison is aware of the Pacers' ongoing search for one more big man.

He's been aware of it since he joined the team four years ago.

This season, he's hoping to end that quest, once and for all.

"This is year four of, 'We need a big guy,' " Harrison said Tuesday at the annual Pacers Foundation, Inc., golf outing at Brickyard Crossing. "My mentality going into camp is if I'm not that big guy, I think they should go get him and let me go somewhere else.

"I'm optimistic. I like the coaching staff. I think we're going to have a real competitive style."

Largely because of a troublesome shoulder injury that required April surgery, Harrison posted career lows in games (24), minutes (190), scoring (3.0 per game) and rebounding (1.8) in his third NBA season. The former first-round pick from Colorado also averaged a career-high 11.8 fouls per 48 minutes. It was a major step back for a former first-round pick that appeared in 67 games and averaged 15.4 minutes, 5.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 8.9 fouls per 48 minutes in 2005-06.

After going through two months of post-surgery rehab, Harrison resumed full-scale basketball workouts in July and appears to have his conditioning where it needs to be heading into training camp, which begins Oct. 2 in Conseco Fieldhouse.

"I had my opportunity my rookie year after the brawl and I thought I put up the numbers to prove I could perform in minutes," Harrison said. "I was inconsistent really bad my rookie year but my second year I thought I was more consistent with my minutes and trying to stay out there.

"The biggest issue with me has always been foul trouble. That's what everybody has always said: 'You can't keep him on the floor with two fouls. But if you're not going to put me back on the court, anyway, why does it matter that I have two fouls? It's a different coach, a different time. It might not be the same mentality. I'm just going to go do what I did last year. I'm going to put myself in the best shape I possibly can and try to do my job."

With a new coaching staff headed by Jim O'Brien, Harrison could get something of a fresh start. On a team looking for big bodies, he has the biggest; Harrison is the only 7-footer on the roster. O'Brien said the young center's long-sought opportunity is in his hands.

"I think it's totally up to David Harrison," said O'Brien. "It is for all of our players. I've been asked that question by fans constantly, as to what my plans are for David Harrison, and my plans are to put on the court the people that deserve to be on the court. If he deserves to be on the court, he'll be on the court."

A capable shot-blocker with unusual athleticism for his size, Harrison could fit in well with O'Brien's more up-tempo offensive system. Though he looks forward to playing the new style, Harrison is taking a pragmatic approach to its implementation.

"You can say you're going to run but to run you've got to have a team that knows each other very, very well," Harrison said. "You need to know this person's tendencies, this person does this, know where this person's going to be. I haven't played basketball with anyone on this team except Danny Granger, Jeff Foster, Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jermaine O'Neal. That's one-third of our roster. Cohesion's going to be a problem in the beginning but once that's gone, I see us as a very competitive team, top to bottom. It's going to be an interesting season."