Denton: Vaughn Talks Coaching Style & Raves About Newly Hired Assistant Coaches

By John Denton
August 30, 2012

ORLANDO -- A former point guard who used to act much like a coach on the floor, Jacque Vaughn said he will employ a style of play with the Orlando Magic that will afford players freedom and the ability to stay aggressive.

As the new head coach of the Magic, Vaughn has spent the past month conveying his thoughts about his style of coaching and the way he wants his teams to play with the players on the roster. He’s travelled to some players’ hometowns, hosted others in Orlando for dinners and engaged in long conversations about basketball, family and beliefs. And even though the Magic are about to enter a transition phase with a relatively young team, a new GM (Rob Hennigan) and a rookie head coach, Vaughn said the feedback he’s gotten from the players has been encouraging.

``I’ve enjoyed the enthusiasm and the theme of guys wanting to buy in to what we want to do here,’’ Vaughn said on Thursday. ``That part of it has been unbelievable. I’m excited and I’ve felt the excitement in the eyes and the voices of the guys that I have talked to. It’s almost time to go.’’

The Magic don’t open training camp until Oct. 1, but many of the players will start returning to the team headquarters at the Amway Center for voluntary basketball drills and conditioning sessions in the coming weeks. And on Thursday, Vaughn set in place a coaching staff that has already begun preparations for training camp and the season ahead.

James Borrego, a former assistant with the Hornets and Spurs, will serve as Vaughn’s lead assistant. Wes Unseld Jr. and Brett Gunning were also hired as assistants, while Laron Profit and Luke Stuckey will focus on player development. Vaughn had high praise for Borrego who worked his way up from the video department in San Antonio to being a rising coaching candidate in NBA circles.

``He’s done an unbelievable job of doing his job every single day. He is an extremely loyal and trustworthy guy,’’ Vaughn said of Borrego. ``He knows the game and our players will enjoy being around him. I trust him with my kids and I definitely trust him with my players. To me, that’s the ultimate compliment.’’

Vaughn, 37, is a head coach for the first time and that made the appointment of NBA veteran Gordon Chiesa as a special consultant highly important to Vaughn. Chiesa was an assistant coach under Jerry Sloan in Utah for 16 seasons while the Jazz twice reached the NBA Finals and won more than 63 percent of their regular-season games. Vaughn started his NBA career in Utah and he and Chiesa have a candid relationship which will aid the Magic’s new head coach as he deals with players and various scenarios.

``It’s a great luxury for me. He is a teacher of the game and a brilliant man,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’s very knowledgeable about the game of basketball and about individuals and team dynamics. I’m fortunate that I have a relationship with him that is very candid and we’ll be able to bounce different ideas off one another and deal with different scenarios. I’m happy that he’s a part of this.’’

As for the style of basketball that he will employ this season, Vaughn said his experience playing the game taught him the need for a coach to give the players freedom to make decisions and plays on the court. Vaughn wants to play an up-tempo style that will feature plenty of player and ball movement. And he’s going to do his best to allow the players to right to call their own shots at times in the flow of the action.

``We will run to score to put it in simple context,’’ Vaughn stressed. ``Guys will have freedom to make decisions and they will enjoy the style of play. I won’t call a play every single time down the floor because that’s just not my style. And guys will enjoy the aggressiveness and the pace that we play with on both ends of the floor.’’

Vaughn said he is up to the task of helping the Magic through what could be a rocky rebuilding process at times. He said its important that he lay the proper foundation for the franchise. He will lean heavily on point guard and captain Jameer Nelson, have high expectations for veterans Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, J.J. Redick and Al Harrington and push rookies Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn.

Vaughn said his previous relationship with Hennigan – the two were together previously in San Antonio – assures that he has the support and the tools needed to be successful. He said he will take a workman-like approach to rebuilding the Magic and successes will be measured by daily improvement and the culture that is put in place. ``It’s exciting because I come into this with Rob and I know what he’s capable of doing. So that makes it very exciting from the start,’’ Vaughn said. ``We have that relationship and we feel that we can build something successful.

``But my approach doesn’t change whether we are regarded as the favorites for the championship or picked last out of 30 teams,’’ Vaughn vowed. ``My approach is that every single day we’re going to try to get better. Today is the only day that matters and there will be no excuses. You hope that over time those days of getting better will add up. The code won’t change regardless of whether we’re the favorites or the lowest-ranked team.’’

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