|New Pacers coach O'Brien hopes to continue winning ways|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 31 May 2007 22:00|
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -If history repeats itself for Jim O'Brien, the Indiana Pacers will return to postseason play next season.|
In Boston and Philadelphia, O'Brien took over teams that had losing records the previous season and earned a playoff berth in his first year.
``This is all about winning,'' O'Brien said Thursday after being named the Pacers' new coach. ``We would all be disappointed if we're not in the playoffs next year.''
O'Brien, 182-158 in five seasons as a head coach, was hired by Indiana after a five-week search to replace the fired Rick Carlisle.
The Pacers finished 35-47 this season and missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Indiana has struggled the past three seasons after reaching the Eastern Conference finals six times since 1994. They made the NBA finals in 2000 when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, and had the league's best record in 2003-04.
That long-term success gives O'Brien confidence that the Pacers' losing season was a fluke.
``I know what the Indiana Pacers are all about from the standpoint of their history, their tradition, the way they've gone about things in the past,'' O'Brien said.
Team president Larry Bird said O'Brien will help shape the roster this summer. Bird has said he is willing to trade anyone on the team, including All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal.
``He'll have a lot of input in that,'' Bird said. ``We like to give a coach the type of players he likes to have. It's important for him to have a big part in it.''
Indiana was the only team O'Brien spoke with about a head coaching position. During their lengthy coaching search, the Pacers interviewed former Miami coach Stan Van Gundy twice and later talked to Chicago assistant Jim Boylan twice. They also interviewed current assistants Johnny Davis and Chuck Person.
O'Brien had been out of coaching since he was fired by Philadelphia following the 2004-05 season and wrote for ESPN.com the past two years. He coached the Celtics from 2001-04.
``It came down to we needed a guy with experience in here,'' Bird said. ``A guy who I think I'm going to be on the same page with to do the things necessary to take us to the next level.''
O'Brien said the Pacers need to add shooters because he likes the 3-point shot. He said he wants the team to get the ball past halfcourt in 3 seconds or fewer, a departure from Carlisle's slower, structured style.
Carlisle had a 181-147 record with the Pacers, but his time was overshawdowed with player troubles. The Pacers dealt with long suspensions of Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson after the 2004 brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans, and Indiana ended up trading both.
Jackson and point guard Jamaal Tinsley both face felony charges in separate nightclub fights during the past year - behavior which Bird has called an embarrassment to the team.
Pacers fans have grown weary of the problems on and off the court, and at times have booed the team. O'Brien said his team will play the brand of basketball the fans expect.
``We will practice hard,'' he said. ``Discipline and organization is a cornerstone of any basketball team at any level, and certainly, our guys will know what we want of them.''
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