"I miss it terribly."
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel hasn't been able to do what he loves, something he's done throughout the better part of his adult life. The NBA lockout has kept Vogel from his favorite task as a NBA coach, instructing players on the practice court.
"That's why you're in coaching, to have that one-on-one interaction and those relationships to help people improve what they do," Vogel said while taking a break from the action at the "Come To Our House" event on Monday. "That's the rewarding part of it."
Since the Pacers coaches aren't allowed to talk to NBA players or prospects, they've used the lockout free time to learn from one another, getting together a couple of days a week to wear out a segment of the game for a couple of hours.
"We met the other day for two hours and just talked about baseline out of bounds plays," Vogel said.
Just baseline out of bounds plays?
I'm not sure if that's impressive or insane. Equal helpings of both I guess. I mean I can see going over late-game, side out of bounds plays after a timeout with all of the varied time/score and player matchup scenarios. I guess it doesn't hurt to extend some of those variable to baseline situations, but regardless, the point is these guys are deep in the weeds of analyzing all facets of the game.
"We just pick a topic and go," Vogel explained. "We have a lot of experience in that room, plus we're doing a lot of working ahead, getting some of our preps together and getting familiar with some of the new players that are in our league now coming out of college."
But it is hard to fully prepare since the roster for the Pacers is far from stable. The core group of players appears to be set, but there are several roster spots to fill and trading a player or two wouldn't surprise anyone. Those roster changes may impact the way the Pacers play whenever they hit the court again.
"It is difficult to come up with a precise game plan of how you want to play because you always want to make sure you're using a system that fits your personnel," Vogel said. "But we feel pretty good about the core that we have back and the style of play is one that is going to fit those guys and if we add pieces then we'll adjust."
So Vogel has found a few silver linings while waiting out the NBA labor mess. All of the prep time and work with his new coaching staff has them ready to hit the ground running when the lockout ends. Plus, helping out with events around town like the Thanksgiving meal the Pacers served up on Monday allows Vogel to make the most of his time and help out the community.
Vogel also gets to help out at home, taking advantage of excess time with the family that has always been a rare commodity at this time of the year.
"The biggest silver lining in all of this is the amount of time I've been able to spend with my children and my family at home," Vogel said. "I'm at the bus stop every morning and home for dinner every night. No long road trips, no late nights watching film. I'm putting the kids to bed every night. That's something that you can't take for granted and something that's not there in a regular NBA season, so I'm definitely enjoying that silver lining in all of this."
Eventually the NBA lockout will end and Vogel will be thrown into the fire of his first NBA season as the head coach with all of the scrutiny and stress that carries. Vogel is thankful for all of the public support he's received around town but he isn't running for mayor, he's a basketball coach ready to do some coaching.
"We haven't lost a game in quite some time," Vogel joked as we discussed his popularity around town. Something tells me Vogel would love to deal with the fallout from a loss right now. At least he'd be coaching his team and have a chance to make them better.