Denton: Vaughn Attentive to Needs of Young Players


By John Denton
December 13, 2012

ORLANDO – By most accounts, first-year coach Jacque Vaughn has done an exceptional job, helping the Orlando Magic greatly exceed the expectations of some prognosticators while also producing some stirring victories. But when considering Vaughn’s responsibility of accomplishing short-term success while also focusing on long-range development of the Magic’s young players, the work he’s done so far has been exceptional.

Not only is Vaughn charged with winning as many games as possible for the 8-13 Magic, but he’s also responsible for making sure there’s growth from Orlando’s four rookies and the seven first- or second-year players on the roster. It’s a fine line he’s been asked to walk, and from time to time the two visions collide with one another. But for the most part, Vaughn has been able to accomplish both feats so far.

Vaughn said that his mission is made easier by the fact that all players – old or young – know that they will be held accountable for their actions. They are graded each game, and sometimes in each practice, and there is praise when they do well, and direction when they struggle. Building a system of accountability, Vaughn said, helps the Magic continue to push for wins while also making sure that their younger players are developing.

``I think the biggest thing is that (rookie Maurice Harkless) is around a culture of accountability. When we watch film, (the rookies) know that if Glen Davis doesn’t box out, then I’m going to mention it. And if Mo Harkless doesn’t box out, I’m going to mention it also. So it’s a culture of accountability. That will be us going forward. We’ll have good people in our organization who want to win and don’t mind being held accountable. That breeds success.’’

The Magic are the only team to have any success of late against Friday’s opponent, the Golden State Warriors. They won in Miami on Wednesday night on a last-second layup by Draymond Green. Golden State has been one the NBA’s best surprise teams so far by winning eight of nine games.

The only loss, of course, was a 102-94 defeat to the Magic last Monday in Oakland. In that game, three Magic players scored more than 20 points (Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo with 24 points and J.J. Redick with 22). And Orlando pulled away down the stretch, outscoring the Warriors 33-25 in the fourth quarter. Golden State is 5-0 on their seven-game road trip, already beating Detroit, Brooklyn, Washington, Charlotte and Miami.

Friday’s tipoff from the Amway Center is just after 7 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 8 p.m., but ESPN decided to no longer televise the gsme.

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