Frank Vogel Speaks on Coaching During Last Year’s Struggles

(Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports) /

Yesterday, Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel joined Jared Greenberg and Rick Fox. on their “Off The Dribble” radio show on Sirius XM.

He talked about the adjustments the team will have to make this season without Paul George and Lance Stephenson, as well as his expectations for a bounce-back season from Roy Hibbert, as shown here in a transcript published in the Indianapolis Star.

But perhaps most interesting is Vogel’s response after being asked if his “job description” changed last year given the “challenges on and off the court.” (Emphasis added by me.)

"“I don’t think it really changed but I think as a coach, you have to be dialed in to what’s happening in your players’ personal lives. You’ve got to mentor them and guide them and advise them. Sometimes, that’s easy ’cause there are no off-the-court concerns and sometimes it’s not easy and you have more troubling times.So, I don’t think the role changed. The things that I encountered last year were a little bit different, but in terms of on the court, the job description didn’t change. But we always strive to build a team and strive to build togetherness, and like I said before, sometimes that’s easy. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you have to really have some heart-to-heart meetings and really just put your arms around these guys and make sure that they’re cheering for each other and playing for each other and pushing each other the right way.Certainly there was more of that last year than it was the prior year but your job is always to achieve togetherness. Some years are going to be easier than others.”"

There isn’t anything damning here by any means. But Vogel’s vague descriptions certainly speak to the perceived issues that were present in the locker room. He had to “make sure that [players] are cheering for each other.”

Who knows exactly what he is talking about, but the issue of Stephenson’s stat hunting and Roy Hibbert referring to Lance as “selfish” is all but public info at this point.

As for the other being “dialed in to what’s happening in your players’ personal lives,” Paul George has admitted that he got distracted by fame. As we learned in this profile by Candace Buckner, George underestimated the time commitments of being a pitchman for the likes of Papa John’s and Gatorade, and suffered from the toll of off-court controversy, such as  his contentious paternity dispute.

We can’t know what Frank Vogel means specifically here, but it sounds as though last year was a shift for him as well, as he needed to concentrate a bit less on Xs and Os, and more on being a babysitter.

In another interesting revelations, Vogel also discussed some of the changes the NBA is hoping to make this season in terms of speeding up officials’ replays. He talked about a recent meeting in Chicago between coaches and officials.

"They’re really pouring in a lot of time and effort and finances into just enhancing what they do from an officiating standpoint. Adam Silver has come in and asked them to re-examine everything they do and find out if there is a way to do it better. That’s something that all the coaches are happy to hear about and the fans should be as well.One of the things they’re doing, they’ve developed a full replay center room where every game that’s being played in the NBA will have a staff in play to sort of facilitate how quickly the replay situations, or the replay triggers will be resolved. So it’s not three officials standing over there for five, six, seven, eight minutes. Ideally, with these guys reviewing the plays in the review room, by the time the officials get over to the scorer’s table, most of the time the answers will already be there for them.”"

Anything they can do to speed up the game will be a welcome change.