The player that Mick Cronin constantly mentions as one of the best players on his inexperienced squad is sophomore Deonta Vaughn. Bearcat Insider got a few minutes to speak with Vaughn prior to Thursday's practice.
Cincinnati sophomore point guard, Deonta Vaughn, leads the Bearcats in scoring after seven games with a 16 point average. The Indianapolis native who also attended Harmony Community School in Cincinnati is scoring only slightly more than last season when he also led the Bearcats with a 14.5 scoring average, but since he's one of the "veterans" on this inexperienced squad, Coach Cronin looks to his star guard for a lot more than just producing offense.
As the Bearcats head into the toughest part of their nonconference schedule with nationally ranked Memphis and Xavier on the horizon, Deonta explained that he isn't very satisfied with what's happened so far. "I'm not very satisfied. At the beginning of the year, I think we should have won some games that we lost. Coach recruited everyone to come here and make themselves better, but we haven't taken the opportunity yet."
Vaughn and Cronin have had heart-to-heart talks about Deonta being more of a leader on the squad, and the point guard wants to improve in that area of his game. "It starts in practice getting everyone in the right spots. I need to be a floor general. I also need to get everyone into the flow of the game. If one person breaks down, the whole team breaks down. I need to tell people what they're doing wrong and let everyone know that we can't give up. It starts with me."
The Cincinnati program hasn't always looked to its point guard to score, but if the 2007-2008 Bearcats are to improve on last season's 11-19 record, Vaughn will need to put the ball in the hoop. But how tough is it for a sophomore to not only learn a new position but also maintain the burden of scoring? Deonta has no problem with the added responsibilities. "It hasn't been hard. I just need to remember the plays and where everyone is supposed to be on the floor."
Even though Vaughn is again leading the team in scoring, his play has been inconsistent at times. In the recent loss to Alabama-Birmingham, Deonta scored only five points and tied a career low by attempting only four shots in the game. Vaughn won't blame his youth for the inconsistency. "I just get too relaxed sometimes on the court and don't play like every game is the last game."
Taking a 4-3 record on the road to Illinois State on Saturday followed by games against Xavier, Memphis, North Carolina State and Miami of Ohio before starting the rigorous BIG EAST schedule, Deonta knows his inexperienced team has its work cut out for it. "We're approaching the schedule with hard work and dedication. We're just trying to make things work and make things better."
With those comments, Deonta was off to practice.