- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2011

CHICAGO — In a corner of the Georgetown basketball team’s locker room, Julian Vaughn sat next to two bottles of juice and a banana Thursday. Camera crews passed by in search of bigger names. Vaughn didn’t mind.

The senior stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 250 pounds, but speaks softly. His words grower quieter when he explains the last four games.

While the focus during Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener against Virginia Commonwealth will be on Chris Wright’s return from an injured left hand, Vaughn is attempting to come back from his worst stretch of the season.

“It’s frustrating at times when you know you’re capable of so much more,” said Vaughn, Georgetown’s top option in the post. “But you can’t let your confidence down and you can’t think you’re a bad player. Everyone knows this isn’t the team we are, that player isn’t how he’s playing right now.”

Georgetown (21-10) has dropped five of six games. During the last four, Vaughn fell into a slump as the Hoyas’ post offense virtually disappeared. He’s 1-for-18 from the field during the stretch and hasn’t made a field goal in the last three games. Rebounds dropped, fouls soared.

Things got so bad during last week’s loss to UConn in the Big East Tournament, coach John Thompson III limited Vaughn, who averages eight points and six rebounds per game, to 12 minutes.

“A lot of times when any athlete is in a slump, a large portion of that is mental,” Thompson said. “But we told Julian we have no time for slumps right now, Julian or anyone else. So he’s fine. He’s ready to go.”

Added Wright: “You can’t sulk about it now. It’s time to step up.”

Teammates noticed Vaughn’s improved play during practice this week. They’ve tried to encourage him, not pointing fingers or assigning blame for the team’s slide. or his slump Vaughn appreciates that.

When Vaughn is on, he adds a different dimension to Georgetown’s attack.

Julian helps us get out and run,” senior Austin Freeman said. “On offense, it helps us be aggressive and attack with him being a force down low. It gives us another option.”

Vaughn is also needed on the defensive end to help contain VCU (24-11) forward Jamie Skeen, who boasts the unique ability to post up or drift outside and hit 3-pointers. At Wake Forest, Skeen played primarily on the perimeter before transferring to VCU and taking up residence in the post.

The return of Wright, who Vaughn has known since he was 8 years old, will help. Talking about Wright, Vaughn grows more animated, like he can see the game unfolding in front of him.

What does Vaughn see in Wright? Passion on the court. Presence the team missed. Aggressive drives to the basket. The ability to kick out the ball to open shooters. Intangibles the team lacked. And the opportunity to put the last four games behind them.

“This new season is like a new beginning,” Vaughn said. “It doesn’t matter what you did. You can have a new season, a great season.”

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