Frank Vogel: ‘We’re going to win’

January 7, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel instructs against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 7, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel instructs against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel arrived in Orlando with one goal and directive. He believes in the roster with the Magic and that they are ready to win.

Frank Vogel, half joking, half serious laid down the goal for the Orlando Magic during his introductory press conference. The one singular purpose for which he and his team would play for.

“If we don’t get a ring this year, then it’s a failure,” Vogel said.

He cracked a smile as the joke landed, commenting he was not going to take himself too seriously.

The message though was very clear. His joking goal is not so far off.

After four years without making the Playoffs, winning is the only thing that seems to matter.

Vogel was not coming to Orlando to rebuild. Not coming to Orlando to wait on the roster to mature. It was time, and the team was ready to take the next step.

The Orlando Magic are expecting to make the Playoffs in 2017. And the Magic and their new coach believe they can do so.

“We’re going to win. It’s that simple. We’re going to go out, we’re going to work our tails off, we’re going to instill discipline, we’re going to inspire our guys, we’re going to develop our players and we’re going to win games.”

That directive is simple enough. It is the same directive Scott Skiles seemed to bring in last summer with the same belief. Maybe not put so bluntly. Skiles always said he believed this team could make the Playoffs.

Vogel though seemed to hold that bar much firmer with the media at least. He is entering this franchise at a different time than Skiles did. The Magic were trying to turn the corner last year and took some growing pains.

Now the expectation is to keep moving that forward, and there is only one inevitable next step.

“Obviously this group hasn’t been to the Playoffs,” Vogel said. “If you want to look for a bar where we’re going to set the standard and our goals, we’re going to get into the Playoffs this year. More importantly to me, we’ve got to build something that we know is going to win in the Playoffs. It’s building the level of offensive sharing and passing, building the defensive toughness where you are going to defend and rebound and it’s going to be hard to score against our team. So when you get in the Playoffs you have a reasonable expectation to succeed in the Playoffs.”

That has been a line trotted out as the very point of this rebuild. It is perhaps the first time a coach has said it. And perhaps said it at a time when the rebuild is at a very tricky balancing point with that goal in mind.

The whole rebuilding through the draft was meant to bring in a core that could build something sustainable. It has taken its twists and turns.

There is, of course during the opening press conference, the belief that things will be different this time. The team can take that next step.

“To add his experience of having been to the Playoffs five of the last six years, having been to the Eastern Conference Finals twice in the past six years, it’s one of those pieces that we have talked about in addition to veteran players that is necessary to tell our young guys who have never been there how to get there,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “And to truly transition them from not having been to the playoffs to being in the Playoffs. For someone who hasn’t been there, you can only say it, but for someone who has been there you can prove it. and you can talk in detail on how to get there.”

Perhaps that bit of wisdom is what the Magic need. It is what the Magic likely saw in Scott Skiles when they hired him last year. Skiles was someone who had a track record of taking young players, making them better and getting them to the Playoffs and nothing much more. Vogel has that experience of taking a young team to its first Playoffs and going forward.

The excitement is based on what Vogel has done for sure. There remains the unknown of exactly how this team can come together and make good on what everyone sees as their potential — at least, immediately a Playoff team.

Vogel said throughout his introductory press conference that it was the roster that attracted him to Orlando. Not just the talent on the roster, but the character of the roster. He said he believes these players are ones that want to work and have the right approach to improving and getting to that next level.

Ultimately the only thing that matters is the end result. The roster and the rebuild has reached that point where that is the most important thing.  Hiring a coach like Vogel is both the promise of improving players individually but also delivering victories.

Once again, there is no getting around that simple directive.

The Magic are here and planning to win with this new coach.

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“The main message is we’re going to win,” Vogel said. “We’ve got the formula, we’ve got the ability. We’re ready from the standpoint of our growing pains being behind us. We’re going to add a few key free agents. This is going to happen. Be excited about what we’re going to embark on.”