After surviving a difficult series against the Washington Wizards (Sorry Wall), the Pacers look to take back the East and stop the Heat from pulling a three-peat. The Eastern Conference Finals are set to start this Sunday and Big Blue Nation still has a pull in the East, thanks to Frank Vogel.
In case you somehow forgot Vogel was a part of Big Blue Nation, here is a rundown of Vogel’s connection Drew did a few years ago.
Frank Vogel attended the University of Kentucky after three years of D-III basketball. Vogel ran the point for Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania before deciding to transfer to Lexington for his senior season. The decision to move south came after meeting Rick Pitino, the man who would eventually become his mentor in life, at Five Star Basketball Camp in New Jersey.
Vogel immediately talked his way into a student manager position once he hit campus during the 1994-95 season. The next year, he roomed with Cameron Mills and played point guard for the famed Kentucky JV basketball team. Kentucky was pretty good that year, if you recall. Vogel could even take some credit for the ’96 success because he was responsible for washing those Converse denim uniforms after every game. How ’bout that for a claim to fame???
When Vogel graduated with a biology degree from UK just one month after Kentucky won its sixth title, Rick Pitino asked him to join the staff as the video coordinator for the 1996-97 season. When Rick left for Boston that summer, he took Vogel with him to fill the same role for the Celtics. From there, Vogel would follow Jim O’Brien around the NBA until O’Brien was fired from the Pacers last season, opening the door for Vogel to be named interim head coach to finish out the year. The Pacers earned a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 under his command.
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers will face off Sunday in a rematch of the East Finals from last season, which the Pacers forced into game seven before they fell to the Heat. In fact, the Pacers have fallen to the Heat in the postseason the past two years. What is different this time is the Pacers will have home court advantage.
While it is hard to say who will win at this point, the Pacers showed a lot of drive when they came back to win the series against the Wizards. Maybe Vogel and the Pacers will be the ones to finally bring down the Heat after three years of controlling the East?
Hopefully Vogel will use his excellent decision making skills in the series.