The revamped roster was all smiles on Wednesday.
Listening to Jim O'Brien speak today reminded me of my kids running down to see a present-laden tree on Christmas morning. Well, that is if my kids held a stern demeanor and refused to crack the emotional veneer without the aid of heavy sarcasm.
Regardless, there was no hiding JOB's excitement as the Pacers introduced the remaining new Pacers (save Rasho Nesterovic) at a Fieldhouse press conference on Wednesday. He now has the pieces (presents?) to expect a strong defensive effort. The ball will continue to move at his preferred pace on offense, but the roster now boasts much more balance among its depth.
After expressing "excitement" over the heightened expectations for the Pacers defense, JOB couldn't wait to expound on the improved point guard situation. Last year was a struggle. There were injuries. There was Marquis Daniels playing out of position. There was Flip Murray playing a stop gap role to finish the season. JOB didn't mention it, but it was inferred that there was also a lack of strong leadership from the position (cough, TINSLEY, cough).
This brings me to the other key point from the presser which was an emphasis on team and leadership. Let's face it, the two strongest personalities on the roster last year were Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley. J.O. admits he was depressed and along with the injuries keeping him out of the live fire, he was there but not providing much else. I don't think Tinsley's ever been played a strong leadership role. He's incredibly talented but just not a vocal leader.
TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack have no problem speaking up as an extension of the coach on the floor. JOB expects the team to take more ownership on and off the court. Danny Granger, Jeff Foster and the rest of the remaining roster will have to step up their game to incorporate their new teammates and also impact the new atmosphere in a positive way.
One other thing -- these guys get it. To a man, TJ Ford, Jarrett Jack, Maceo Baston and Josh McRoberts repeatedly touted their excitement about the opportunity to help turn around the Pacers' fortunes. Instead of telling us what they could do individually they were more interested in explaining how they could help improve the team.
On paper, the team has improved immensely from the squad that played very well over the final two months of the season. Changes off the court in leadership and the general tone around the team are even more drastic. The changes have even the strongest cynics intrigued. But the feel-good press conferences are over now. Time to put all the words into action.
Link: Press conference video