There have been times these past few years when I wanted to give Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert a hug. It would have required a stepladder -- even if he was sitting down -- but after rough games, he was so moribund, so terribly down on himself, you felt like offering a warm embrace and saying, "Hey, big fella, it's gonna be OK.''

Poor Roy, a typically sensitive soul in an oversized body, took everything hard: poor performances, then-coach Jim O'Brien's incessant verbal battering, the coaching staff's consistent failure to use him as a low-post presence. He took them hard, took them personally, and the result was, every couple of games, he went into the tank.

Then everything changed. O'Brien was jettisoned. Frank Vogel was inserted, first as interim coach and now as coach.

And everything changed for Roy Hibbert, All-Star in his fourth season.