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Pistons’ Versace to Lead Indiana Pacers

Associated Press

Dick Versace, the Detroit Pistons assistant who arrived in town in time to watch the Indiana Pacers snap a nine-game losing streak, was named head coach of the Pacers today.

He arrived Wednesday night, 30 minutes before the tip-off of the Pacers game with Atlanta. Indiana won 116-113.

“I will not accept losing from this team or any team that I coach,” Versace told a news conference this morning. “When I’m introduced to the players, that will be my opening statement and we’ll go on from there.”

To Work on Defense

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Versace promised that the first thing he will work on will be defense.

“I’d like everyone to say that’s a very fine defensive team. That’s a team you’re never going to be able to run on. You always have to play them five on five.”

Versace, 48, is the third leadership change this season for the Pacers.

Interim coach George Irvine took over nine games into the season after Jack Ramsay resigned.

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Versace, former head coach for Bradley University, said on arrival Wednesday that “I’ve been in this situation before. When a man is working at his craft, it’s always great to work in an area where it’s appreciated, and it isn’t appreciated any more than in this city and in this state.”

He added, “We certainly like to think we can together and collectively build this thing into something the state can be proud of.”

“He’s a good coach, and I think he’s suited to our team,” Pacers General Manager Donnie Walsh said. “I think he has got the proper elements in his personality and coaching philosophy to turn it around and continue what we want to do in the future.

“Everyone I interviewed had a great technology of the game, knowledge of the game. Dick put life into it, intensity into it. It was just the whole combination. I think he has the technical knowledge, experience as head coach, experience in the NBA and putting in proper things as a head coach.”

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Walsh also interviewed NBA assistant coaches Allan Bristow of Denver, Bill Blair of Washington and Frank Hamblen of Milwaukee.


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