The Houston Rockets have cast a wide net in their search to hire a new head coach. In fact, I think Daryl Morey was seen stitching together two wide nets to make sure he doesn't miss anyone. Hey, they're in Texas, so conducting a cattle call coaching search seems appropriate, right?
With so many names tied to the search, some of those names make more sense than others and hearing that Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel (actually, I guess the interim tag is gone now, the Pacers don't have a coach) was among the candidates trotted in for a look-see, makes a ton of sense.
In Rick Adelman, Morey had a perfectly capable NBA coach doing an admirable job under the circumstances as they were with the Rockets last season. But Morey has basketball theories he'd like to see applied to his team that he couldn't convince Adelman to utilize, so the two men decided to part ways.
Morey is among the leading NBA executives when it comes to incorporating statistical analysis into the decision-making process. He commissioned thorough and detailed scouting reports based on such analysis that weren't being used, which is where Frank Vogel comes in. While Adelman shrugged off the heavy-duty scouting reports, Vogel would eat them up, digest everything and then ask for another helping.
Thorough research, preparation and planning is Vogel's strong suit and a reason I would like the Pacers to hire him for next season. The guy has literally made a living out of breaking down game tape, digging into opponents and putting together a game plan. Like Morey, Vogel's head coach didn't always apply his best stuff at game time either, which was obvious after he took control of the Pacers from Jim O'Brien.
Before the words were out of Larry Bird's mouth offering him the interim job, Vogel had already shuffled the playing rotation and offensive approach the Pacers would use for the remainder of the season. He then took a team with a thin margin for error no matter how you slice it, and put them in position to win more games than they lost.
Then in the playoffs, Vogel forced the Chicago Bulls to guess what was coming next and play the role of a counter-puncher for four straight games, flipping the role usually reserved for the challenger in a 1 vs. 8 series to the favorite. It was impressive, especially for those of us who watched the 82-game regular season this cast of characters had played prior to the playoffs.
Make no mistake, players make or break teams in the NBA, but when Vogel had his players executing his game plan they played better than the sum of their parts. When they didn't, it wasn't pretty. The Lance Stephenson experiment spiraled into disaster when dissent amongst the players pushed everyone off of the same page.
At the time, that painful stretch of the season appeared to wipe out Vogel's chances to be taken seriously as a head coach in the NBA, but instead it revealed he has the chops to handle more than game planning. He was able to clean up that mess, re-focus his crew and get them playing their best basketball of the season.
And when the Pacers played their best, they were following Vogel's game plan. Daryl Morey is aware of this and knows all about Vogel's work ethic when it comes to game prep from their time together in Boston. That's why my response to a friend asking me if it was surprising that Houston was considering Vogel in their coaching search, was simply, "Nope. It makes perfect sense."