Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, a former student manager for the Kentucky Wildcats, spoke to Wildcat Blue Nation on November 6th. Here’s what he had to say.
Daniel Solzman: Coach Vogel, thanks for joining Wildcat Blue Nation today. How are things treating you in Indy?
Frank Vogel: Pretty good, pretty good. We’re just travelling down to Atlanta to play the Hawks tomorrow, off to a 2-2 start, and working to get better.
Daniel Solzman: Growing up, did you ever think that you would become a head coach in the NBA?
Frank Vogel: No (laughs). Never. Obviously, once I got a job in the NBA—the video coordinator—it still came like an extreme long shot but as the years went on, the possibility became more and more real.
Daniel Solzman: You served as a student manager at Kentucky under Rick Pitino. How much of an influence has he been on your coaching style?
Frank Vogel: Really a great deal from a standpoint of his positive energy. I think one of the biggest attributes Coach has is the ability to instill confidence in players and belief in players and that, I think, allows players to maximize their potential. That’s one of the things I learned from him and really kind of and sort of trademarked as my coaching style with the team.
Daniel Solzman: How often do you talk to Coach Pitino?
Frank Vogel: I do. We talk a couple times a year. Not every day or anything like that. We talk a couple times a year. I went down to see a practice last year and try to stay in touch.
Daniel Solzman: What’s a typical day in the life like for you as an NBA head coach?
Frank Vogel: We have two different days. There’s no weekends and weekdays in the NBA. Game days and non-game days. A non-game day is typically would be about a noon practice. Getting in about 7 or 8 in the morning, depending on the day’s practice plan to work and get better. Then either traveling and get home to the family. Game days are structured differently. 5 AM wake-up call, get to the office at 6 AM. Watch tape for 4 hours before the 10 AM shootaround. (10 to 11). Then we have a little break in the afternoon to get some lunch and an afternoon power nap. Back around 4 PM for our preparation for the night’s game and home by 11:30 PM if we’re not traveling.
Daniel Solzman: The Pacers have made playoff runs during your first two seasons as coach. What kind of goals do you have this season?
Frank Vogel: We’re going to try and take the next step. Obviously, we had a good regular season last year. We want to try and compete for a one seed. We have the talent to do it. Obviously, we’re limited now with Danny Granger being out indefinitely so we’ll see how that goes but we’re going improve our regular season seed. We made it to the second of the playoffs last year and want to go deeper that that.
Daniel Solzman: As Kentucky’s coach, John Calipari has had a lot of one and done players. As an NBA coach, do you prefer to see players coming into the league after a single college season or would you like to see players coming in with two or more years of college experience?
Frank Vogel: I think it depends on the player. It really does. I don’t have a predetermined notion of a player either way. Sometimes, there’s a guy that comes into the league after one year that has massive talent and is able to contribute right away, and maybe more effective than a guy that went for four years. Sometimes, the four year guy is more experienced and able to adapt. I think it really just depends on the individual and on a case by case basis.
Daniel Solzman: In your opinion, do you think having an NBA team would be good and would also bring back the old Pacers-Colonels rivalry?
Frank Vogel: (Laughs) I think it would be cool. I don’t know if it would be good. They’ve got to do all the marketing analysis and whatnot to make a supportable pro team in this era but it certainly would be a lot of fun and would be very cool. It’s quite a building that they have there so that would find support to their theory.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us. Any final words for Big Blue Nation?
Frank Vogel: Go Cats and Go Cards. I’m still a Rick Pitino guy now so I’ve got to root for both.
Daniel Solzman: Best of luck!
Frank Vogel: Take care.