Barros Looking forward to the Dawn of the Pitino Era

May 26, 1997

It was just before noon and the workout was over. Bowling Green's Antonio Daniels had just become the third point guard to be seen or worked out by the Celtics in the past three weeks.

Those facts alone would seem to make it obvious that the team will have a new point guard next season. Perhaps that's true. But it won't necessarily be the potential lottery pick who performed for the Celtics at UMass-Boston yesterday. Maybe it will be the 5-foot-11-inch man who last went through a predraft workout in 1989.

"For some reason, people have said I can't play point guard," said 30-year-old veteran Dana Barros. "Coming out of training camp last year, I thought I was the best guard on the team. Not the best point guard. The best guard."

Barros, who was at UMass along with the entire Celtics staff, had an outstanding camp in Greensboro, N.C. But when the season began, he was on the bench, relegated to a hired-shooter role. He says he can do more than that. He knows he may have to since last year's starter, free agent David Wesley, may not return to Boston. Before a left-ankle injury limited his season to 24 games, Barros had maintained he could fill any role the Celtics requested. Point guard included.

"Playing the point isn't something you can do for five or six minutes at a time," he said. "I'm known as a shooter. But there's no question that I can play the point, too."

Barros missed Daniels' workout. It was probably hard for him to break away from his 10-month-old son, Jordan, who has surprised his doctors by already walking. But Jordan's father got to the gym in time to shoot under the supervision of Rick Pitino, assistant coaches Jim O'Brien and Winston Bennett, general manager Chris Wallace, vice chairman of the board Red Auerbach, and chief scout Leo Papile. He is following a conditioning program and says his left ankle is at 70 percent.

Barros was one of the first players Pitino talked with before heading to his FleetCenter press conference on May 8. Later that day, Barros heard the coach say players were going to enjoy playing in his system. It is a system that would seem to be a perfect fit for Barros' offensive skills: quick ball movement and 3-point shots.

"M.L. wanted to do that last season," Barros said, "but a lot of guys wouldn't do it on the court.

"Having Pitino is going to be good for us. He's going to be on our asses; we need that. It's nothing against M.L., but he wanted guys to police themselves. You would think guys at this level would be able to do that, but some couldn't."

Pitino's arrival, Barros said, will also improve the mood of home games. He wasn't talking about the 3,000-person season-ticket increase. "We hated playing home games last year," Barros said. "It was crazy to be in a place where everyone wanted you to play well and then lose. It was weird. It's going to be a much more positive atmosphere next season."
Apparently, Larry Bird is going to make one of his first hires from the Celtics organization. Joe Qatato, who was Bird's designated ballboy at Boston Garden, is on his way to Indiana to join the new Pacers coach. Qatato had worked with the Celtics' game operations staff. . . . When the Celtics fired several employees earlier this month, video coordinator Joe Achille was on the list. The team brought in a new coordinator but realized that it needed someone to work with him for a while. So Achille was called and asked to work with the team for a couple more weeks. He accepted.

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