When the UC basketball team emerged from the locker room and took the court for the start of the second half against Prairie View A&M on Monday, senior guard Deonta Vaughn remained on the bench.
Vaughn, the leading scorer the past seasons. Vaughn, probably the most important player on this year's squad (freshman Lance Stephenson, notwithstanding). Vaughn, the Bearcats leader.
Maybe it shouldn't have been that surprising. Vaughn was 0 for 6 from the floor and not playing well at all, while junior guard Larry Davis shot 3 of 5 for eight points. But yeah, it still was kind of surprising not to see him out there.
"I just have to bring my intensity up and play harder and do what I'm supposed to do as a leader," Vaughn said. "It worked. I got more focused. Early on, I was nonchalant about it. I wasn't focused too much. Didn't come out and playing good defense. I gave one of their best shooters, his first 3 of the game to open it up. That's something I shouldn't have done. I should have started better."
Mick Cronin agrees.
"I went with the guys who were playing the best in my opinion," he said. "On our team, everybody is going to have to earn minutes. If you earn playing time, it doesn't matter what grade you're in. Larry Davis, in the first half, played better. It's not really rocket science. It's the advantage of having a bench."
Vaughn will get the message, heading into tonight's contest with
"Deonta's a great kid, but he has to give us better leadership," Cronin said. "This is his year. He has to make sure those guys are ready to play. Before the game, when coaches aren't in there, you have to make sure guys are ready to play. Upsets happen in college basketball. You have to be ready to play basketball."