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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jacque Vaughn has ‘faith’ he can fix Magic

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Associated Press

Former Kansas University standout Jacque Vaughn speaks at a news conference Monday, July 30, 2012, in Orlando, Fla., after he was introduced as head coach of the Magic.

— With a new general manager and the status of All-Star Dwight Howard still in limbo, there’s much to be resolved before the Orlando Magic take the floor next season.

But the team’s top officials believe they have the right person in new head coach Jacque Vaughn to help turn the page on a year that almost everyone in the franchise wants to forget.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan and CEO Alex Martins said Monday that Vaughn has the discipline, work ethic and pedigree as both a player and assistant to do the job.

“We’re going to continue to try to build a culture here,” Hennigan said at the news conference introducing Vaughn. “A culture that our players represent. A culture that our fans can be proud of. A culture our team will rally around. We feel we took a step in the right direction in building that culture with Jacque here today.”

Vaughn becomes the 10th coach in franchise history after 12 years as an NBA player and two years as and assistant in San Antonio. He takes over for Stan Van Gundy, who was fired in May. He said he’s looking forward to working with whoever is on the roster when training camp opens in a few months.

Asked if there was any hesitation in taking his first head coaching job with so much uncertainly surrounding the team and particularly Howard, he said the opportunity outweighed it all.

“Faith. Faith in your abilities. Faith in the people around you,” Vaughn said about what drives him. “One of the great character-building attributes of the franchises I’ve been around — the foundation and the basis — is having good people around you. The DeVos family is about that. Alex Martins is about that. And I know Rob Hennigan is about that.

“And so for me, it was a no-brainer that with these gentlemen everything is OK. I’ll stick my neck out for them.”

Howard recently reissued a trade demand to the team and said he has no desire to play in Orlando for the final year of his contract.

Hennigan confirmed a second face-to-face meeting with the All-Star center, describing it mainly as a status meeting to check on his rehabilitation from back surgery, among other things.

Beyond that, he said he wants to keep their conversations private, refusing to say whether he has ruled out having Howard on the roster for training camp.

“One thing we’ll tell our fans is that we’ll continue look at all options to try and improve this team,” he said. “And we’ll continue to build piece by piece (and) brick by brick into something that is sustainable. At the end of the day it’s about putting a group of guys on the floor that want to be coached by Jacque, who want to be led by Jacque and represent the values and attributes that our fan base can really rally around.”

Vaughn singled out Roy Williams, his coach at Kansas University, former Utah coach Jerry Sloan and Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich as the mentors who’ve had the most influence on his coaching pursuit. He considered the career after “my knees and ankles started hurting” toward the end of his playing days.

“You get a little smarter then,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn won a title with the Spurs as a player in 2007, when Hennigan was working in the Spurs’ front office. The two forged a relationship and landed him on Hennigan’s radar during the recent coaching search.

After an initial interview, he met with Magic owner Rich DeVos and 13 other members of the DeVos family about 10 days ago. Team president Dan DeVos described it as “more of a conversation.”

Martins said Vaughn’s experience in a championship atmosphere and being around so many championship-caliber coaches helped push him over the top. It’s why he said he doesn’t feel like the Magic are taking a gamble replacing Van Gundy, who had one of the most successful runs in franchise history, with a first-time coach.

“I don’t feel like we’re sticking our neck out at all,” Martins said. “I think he is clearly prepared for this opportunity. He’s the right person for this moment in our history.”

Vaughn said he hasn’t yet spoken with Howard, but that he isn’t just focused on Howard.

“I don’t have a relationship,” he said. “For me going forward, I just looking forward to the opportunity of communicating with every Magic player.”

Magic forward Glen Davis attended the news conference Monday and said he “had some chills” listening to his new coach.

As far expectations and the challenges ahead, Vaughn said he plans to take them as they come.

“Would my resume look a little nicer if it said 14 years of experience? Maybe so,” Vaughn said. “But I’ve sat in the seats that the guy I will coach have sat in. I’ll be able to relate to their personal, physical, mental stresses that they come across everyday because I’ve been there. I think they’ll relate to that and they’ll appreciate that, and they’ll know that I’m fighting for them and I believe in them.”

Comments

Brendan Connolly 2 years, 1 month ago

Still my favorite all time Jayhawk and I honestly believe it is between he and Danny as best representative of our school.

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wyansas 2 years, 1 month ago

No doubt, but I don't think he's the man for the job right now.

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Jayhawk3 2 years, 1 month ago

Magic forward Glen Davis attended the news conference Monday and said he “had some chills” listening to his new coach.

Some further details would be helpful. This could have been taken favorably or unfavorably.

Jacque is still one of my favorite Jayhawks.

Jacque and the Beanstalks...

Remember a play he made when a KU player missed a FT, he ran into the lane, got the rebound, and put it back for a layup before the bigs had a chance.

I do wish he had taken the final shot against Arizona however...

Still, he's one of my favorites and one I think of when I think of all the former greats.

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milehighhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

I too would like more details on the "chills" comment. That said, I don't think there's any way that comment could be construed as negative. If it was intended to be negative they would have included a lot more context.

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Kyle Cornish 2 years, 1 month ago

This is an AP article. The LJW didn't go down to cover it obviously, so you might google more articles.

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ccarp 2 years, 1 month ago

Proud of Jacque and can't help but think of that starting line up; Vaughn, Haase, LaFrentz, Pierce, Pollard. Wow.

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Danny Hernandez 2 years, 1 month ago

96-97, That was our NCAA title. 4 first round draft choices of that group and if Jerod hadn't hurt his hand/wrist, I know we would have won that game especially when we got out to a big lead against UofA only to have Jerod have to sit because of the pain.

Great for Jacque. Looks like I'll be watching Orlando games

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FarSideHawk 2 years, 1 month ago

My all-time favorite Jayhawk. He was at the helm when I became a Jayhawk fan. 1997 is still the biggest heart-break of all time.

This guy is super-smart, and is a leader to the core. I think he'll surprise all the nay-sayers. It may take some time to get his culture and drive to set in, but I hope the Magic give him a fair opportunity to succeed.

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Ron Yates 2 years, 1 month ago

This really reflects well on Kansas and the BB program. It says that while the school has great BB tradition, it is also responsible for educating players so they can succeed in life after BB. Vaughn was not only a quality player, he is a quality person. His leadership will pay dividends IF the Magic give him the time to change/fix the culture down there.

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jaybate 2 years, 1 month ago

Vaughn is in a difficult situation in Orlando and he probably knows it.

The DeVos are hiring him as head coach.

And they are hiring Lindsey Hunter, who they considered hiring as head coach, to be Vaughn's top assistant.

The DeVos also offered to keep Stan Van Gundy's staff of Bob Beyer, Steve Clifford, Patrick Ewing, and Brendan Malone in tact and all turned down the offer.

It might be nice if the DeVos at least let Jacque hire his own staff.

This is one of those bring in a broom guy to clean house, and take the lumps. Vaughn is the broom. He is basically an interim head coach.

If things get ugly, as player personel is restructured, then Vaughn gets released quick and Lindsey Hunter gets to be the new interim head coach.

Once Vaughn and Hunter are done sweeping out the dead wood Van Gundy and the DeVos gathered together, then with the house cleaning done and high draft choices from one or two bad seasons, the DeVos go for a big name coach.

What does Vaughn get for doing this?

He gets to put NBA head coach on his resume; that guaranties him two or three more tries as a head coach with struggling franchises that let him call his own shots.

Jacque is starting a Lenny Wilkens kind of career. Wilkens seized the moment early and had a long coaching career of working with tanked franchises, and making them each a little better before getting the hook. Eventually Lenny got to the promised land once in 1979, then fell back to taking struggling franchises like the Cavs, Hawks, Raptors and Knicks to "a little bit better." His winning percentage was a tepid .536, but he was named one of the Top Ten coaches of NBA history.

Wilkens proved that a smart basketball guy could make a good living and have a long career tending to the second tier franchises and turning them from awful to mediocre, though almost never much beyond that. It was a profitable niche for Wilkens.

It could be a profittable niche for Jacque Vaughn.

And if he doesn't do well enough to get another NBA head job, he can always step down to D1 and probably get a head job at a lesser major.

You bet this was a good career move.

The DeVos will owe him one for stepping in and being the broom.

When they cut him loose, they will give him an excellent review to the next franchise that he applies to.

Jacque may even be able to string a few broom gigs together. There is always a franchise that needs a broom.

And after a few broom gigs, he will know the coaching and player management ropes enough to go out and get a real head coaching job, not just as a broom.

This is the real politik of professional basketball coaching.

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Jayhawk3 2 years, 1 month ago

Sometimes it's not so bad to be a broom.

You need a good broom to clean up. If he can turn things around, even without Howard likely, then great for Vaughn.

Doc Rivers also went from a mediocre team to the Celtics. So anything can happen for Vaughn.

If they trade Howard, then it's too bad they didn't do it before the draft.

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