The Orlando Magic have lost eight consecutive games, but you'd never know that if you listen to the team's coach, Jacque Vaughn.
Publicly, in his postgame news conferences, he typically cites some reason for encouragement even after lopsided defeats.
How does he do it?
"Just the way I am, my personality, the way I was raised," Vaughn said. "I accepted this job and understood the challenge that was ahead. I think part of me getting the job was there was a group who believed that I could do this job, and my belief and my faith never waivers. It can't — not as a leader."
Away from the public spotlight, Vaughn remains almost universally positive, players and team executives say.
"At the end of the day," shooting guard Arron Afflalo said, "a positive perspective on a day-to-day basis provides better energy, better motivation for attacking tough circumstances. So, it's better to be positive than negative as long as that positivity doesn't lead to passiveness or just a blasé type of environment. I think a positive perspective is always the best approach."
It's not that Vaughn doesn't get angry. He does.
During a recent loss in Portland, he stormed out to the halfcourt line, and even shuffled over the sideline, to argue against a backcourt violation. He also appeared to lose his temper for a moment when a defensive breakdown resulted in a wide-open layup.
During the first quarter of Friday night's loss in Sacramento, Calif., he took issue with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins for fouling Victor Oladipo — a foul that left Oladipo on the ground.
"He gets angry," point guard Jameer Nelson said. "He does a good job of holding his composure, because he's the head of the snake. He's our guy. He's our coach. It's easy for him to get upset when guys make mistakes, but it's harder to play for a guy when somebody's upset with you every play for some guys.
"And I don't know if we have the type of team that we can handle it if he yells and screams at us all the time. So, I think he's kind of doing what he needs to do with the team to try to deliver a message in the right way — in his own way."
The Magic say Vaughn speaks candidly during team film sessions and during one-on-one discussions with players.
Lately, Vaughn has limited some players' playing time, partly as a way to make them accountable for their mistakes on the court.
Still, none of them say the losing has taken a toll on Vaughn.
"He does a great job of hiding it if he does [get frustrated]," power forward Glen Davis said. "But he's always ready to go."
The question Vaughn faces — the question the Magic face — is simple: Will he have to adjust his approach and become a little more outwardly demanding when, or if, the losses continue to pile up?
"You have to have a little fear [instilled by the coach] because sometimes fear heightens your awareness to making mistakes, to doing the wrong things, and also puts you in more of an attack mode because you have a fear of losing," Afflalo said.
"You definitely want to feel free. You definitely want to be confident. But you don't want to feel so free and confident that you go out there and you don't play the game the right way. I've had some coaches who've emphasized fear . . . But I think Coach has been trying to find a good balance with us thus far."
Vaughn said he believes "having an atmosphere of positivity gets the best out of people."
"I love the challenge," Vaughn added. "I love the grind of it. I really wouldn't want to be doing anything else."
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun