In our desperately sensitive age, the angry old white guy tactics only go so far. The hard-case coach, embodied by crusty stalwarts like Bill Belichick, Gregg Popovich, Tom Thibodeau, and Tom Coughlin, is – if not dead – perilously close to extinction. The New Coach, exemplified by the Seahawks' Pete Carroll and the Celtics' Brad Stevens, loves you and supports you as a person and as a player. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, one distinction needs to be made: Unlike Miami's lemur-faced Erik Spoelstra, these coaches actually run their teams. But rather than ram their philosophies down the players’ throats, they "talk it out" (or so I'm told). Who knows what that means, but based on reports throughout the year, the Pacers' Frank Vogel would embrace the dialogue.
In 2010, Vogel, who played on Kentucky's now-defunct JV squad in 1996, took over a hapless team that hadn't made the playoffs in four years. They've won at a .631 clip ever since, twice topping the Central division. But a sharp downturn the last month of the season has Pacers' president Larry Bird breathing down his neck. He might have to resort to some more extreme motivational practices or embrace the Indiana (when Bobby Knight lived there anyway) tradition of throwing chairs.