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SETON HALL’S CARLESIMO TAKES HIS ACT TO THE NBA

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In Portland, everyone is already calling him simply "P.J."

Peter John Carlesimo, an East Coast guy all his life, has come to Portland to coach this city's only big-time sports team.With a quick wit and an admission that he'll have to change some to adjust to the pro game, Carlesimo had no trouble convincing the local media and the Trail Blazers' front office that he is the right man for the job.

At a news conference Thursday announcing his hiring, the man who was head coach for the last 12 seasons at Seton Hall repeatedly emphasized his respect for the aging veterans who make up the nucleus of the Trail Blazers.

"What we're trying to do is build on what already is a successful franchise," he said. "I don't think this is a rebuilding situation. We're trying to continue the excellent tradition that is here and hopefully have a 1977 happen again."

He was referring to when the Blazers won their only title. Portland has been in the playoffs 11 years in a row, and made it to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992.

"We want to win an NBA championship. That's the mission. That was made very clear," he said.

Carlesimo brushed aside the attitude that, generally, college coaches can't succeed in the NBA.

He reportedly will be paid $1.5 million per year in a five-year contract.