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UC-Seton Hall preview

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After the UAB game, after senior guard Deonta Vaughn managed just seven points on 2 of 9 shooting in a 17-point loss to the Blazers, Mick Cronin decided to try something a little different. Or, in reality, something the same.

 

He moved Vaughn back into his old role of point guard - the one he played last year when Cashmere Wright tore his ACL in the preseason - and since then, Vaughn has returned to his old effective ways, averaging 14 points per contest in his past six games.

 

Apparently, he just feels a little more comfortable there.

 

"Losing the UAB game, I wanted to be the point guard again and get myself in the groove again," Vaughn said. "I wanted to lead the team on. I've been more aggressive in practice. They say if you don't practice well, you don't play well. I've been practicing well and playing hard, and it shows in the game.

 

"I ran it last year and I'm used to it. Everybody saw me more as a shooter, but being able to play the point, it helps us scoring more in the front court. You don't have only one or two guys to key on. Now, you have to worry about everybody, so it gives us more depth on the court."

 

Cronin said he wanted to move Vaughn back to the point because he saw the team needed an adjustment.

 

"We've adjusted to make sure he's getting offensive opportunities," said Cronin, whose squad will face Seton Hall on Saturday at 6 p.m. "Our opponents are well aware of how capable he is as a 3-point shooter. When he was off the ball, he didn't have the opportunities. We weren't doing a good job of finding him and getting him open or finding him when he was open."

 

The move seems to have worked. The offense seems to run smoother when Vaughn is in there, and though he and Wright are on the court at times together, the Bearcats have responded positively to Vaughn's leadership.

 

"It's a comfort zone for him to have the ball in his hands," Cronin said. "Because we've been here so long together, he knows there are some things he can do with the ball in his hands where he can give it up and get it back."

 

--Speaking of point guards, how's Wright handled his decrease in minutes played? Cronin said he's responded pretty well to his diminished role, but UC's coach also wasn't surprised he had to change Wright's position on the team.

 

"He's just like most freshmen: college basketball is a lot harder than he thought it was going to be," Cronin said. "Not everybody is a Lance Stephenson or a John Wall. Some guys are regular freshmen. If you're on a winning team, it's hard to play as a freshman if you have veteran players."

 

That said, Vaughn indicated Wright has to work on his game - most notably his ability to be heard when trying to run the offense.

 

"Be louder," Vaughn said. "We know Cash can score and has the ability to get into the paint. The thing is his talking. He's coming along and he's learning in practice more and more that he has to be more vocal."

 

--And what about Seton Hall? Well, for one thing, the Pirates are 9-5 and 0-3 in the Big East. And for another, junior guard Jeremy Hazell is really good. He's averaging 22.6 points per game and 4.1 rebounds, and he's a tough matchup for just about anybody in the Big East conference.

 

"He's 6-6, and if he has space and time, he's probably the best shooter in the league," Cronin said. "But also he's an underrated guy as far as getting to the basket. When he gets 30-40 points, it's where he's getting 15-20 free throws. The teams that have contained him have not given him layups and free throws. He's a guy who's going to take so many three-point shots - if you guard him, he won't shoot a high percentage, but if you don't guard him, he will. But what you can't do is give him layups and free throws. We need to make sure whoever has Hazell, has him."

 

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