July 6, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- Frank Vogel, introduced Wednesday as the Indiana Pacers' head coach, wasted no time outlining some ambitious plans for the team.
“We're not satisfied … by any stretch,” said Vogel, who went 20-18 and led the Pacers into the playoffs as interim head coach last season. “There's a fearlessness about this team that is exciting to be a part of.
“It's going to be a fun and exciting era of Pacers basketball. Again, it's a huge step last year what we did, but we're building something bigger here. This is the new Pacers. And we shoot for the moon. We dream big and then we work our tails off to reach those dreams.”
Larry Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations, appeared at the Wednesday news conference at Conseco Fieldhouse to introduce the 38-year-old Vogel. The wait in naming Vogel to the top coaching job ended after Bird and Pacers General Manager David Morway talked to other candidates on the telephone and Vogel investigated potential assistants.
“I feel very comfortable we're moving in the right direction and we're taking this team where we want to get,” Bird said.
Vogel has yet to unveil his staff but indicated that announcement could come next week.
Vogel said the wait to get his interim tag removed didn't bother him. He said Pacers executives kept him informed and were “very respectful” in handling the matter.
“I just think they wanted to make sure I had the best support system available,” Vogel said. “I think they believe in me tremendously. They just wanted to make sure I was in the best position to succeed.”
It has been speculated that longtime Los Angeles Lakers assistant Brian Shaw will be Indiana's associate head coach. Bird wants to make sure Vogel has a top assistant who has “been through the ringer and been through the league.”
“I wanted to make sure he got an associate head coach who has experience,” Bird said. “We had some locker room issues last year at certain times after Frank took over, and we wanted to make sure we addressed that, not only with the coaches but with the players. We did with the players after the season. We had a lot of conversations about that. I don't think we'll have any problems any more.”
Vogel has been with the Pacers since 2007, when he was hired as an assistant by Head Coach Jim O'Brien. He has spent 14 years in the NBA as an assistant, scout and video coordinator.
Vogel became interim head coach last season when he replaced O'Brien after the latter was fired on Jan. 30. The Pacers put on a finishing kick and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They lost 4-1 to the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
As the Pacers moved into the off-season and examined the makeup of their coaching staff, everyone in the front office, starting with owner Herb Simon, liked the potential Vogel brought to the table.
“It just seemed like everybody felt comfortable with Frank,” Bird said. “Every time we started talking about different people, it always ended up with Frank. Being a young coach and getting some playoff experience, he learned a lot. I think the players learned a lot.
“Overall, I believe this is a pretty good opportunity, a very good opportunity, for Frank to grow with this team. Our players are very excited after what happened last year, and they know we have to make the next step. That's our goal right now.”
“We won 37 games last year,” Bird said. “We need to win more games. … Now we're in a situation where I'd like this franchise to be, and we need to make the next step and win more basketball games.”
Bird also addressed his own future with the club after meeting with Simon in May.
“We're taking one year at a time,” Bird said. “Me and Herbie had a lot of talks about different things. I felt very comfortable with what he was saying. He liked where our team is and the direction. There are a lot of uncertainties this year. After all is said and done, it's just one year at a time.”