Duke is Paulus' Team
Greg Paulus
Greg Paulus
Posted Dec 22, 2006

NEW YORK - It took a dozen games, but Duke is finally Greg Paulus' team.

Josh McRoberts doesn't want to be a leader. DeMarcus Nelson doesn't have what it takes to be one. The rest of the team is just too young.

Greg Paulus may not be Bobby Hurley, but the Duke sophomore point guard sure did his best gutsy imitation in a victory over No. 22 Gonzaga in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden.

McRoberts and Paulus were supposed to take the reigns after J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams left. However, Paulus suffered a broken bone in his left foot on the second day of practice and has been crucified by many for his lackluster start.

Paulus even came off the bench for three games because of his ineffectiveness. He was averaging just 6.4 points and had nearly as many turnovers (36) as assists (42) coming into the game.

Even one of his older brothers (he has four) was chiding him that Gonzaga's Derek Raivio was a better floor leader.

Paulus responded with the best performance of his 47-game college career - finishing with a career-high 20 points and dishing out four assists with just one turnover.

``It's about time," a grinning Paulus said after the game.

Paulus made shots when no one else could knock them down. He finished with eight of Duke's anemic 20 points before the break. However, despite the Blue Devils shooting just 23 percent, they trailed by just one at halftime.

While Raivio struggled miserably and finished with just four points on four field-goal attempts, Paulus continued to do what Duke fans have yearned for since he spurned an opportunity to play quarterback and point guard at Notre Dame to play for Coach K.

He ran the team, got open shots for his teammates and picked up the scoring slack when they weren't converting the open looks.

``He played like he can," McRoberts said. ``He played like the leader we need him to be."

``This was his best game," added Duke assistant and former player Chris Collins. "He was great. He just had that look that he was in charge."

It was a look that had been lacking for much of the season as he recovered from the foot injury.

``It took more time than I thought and I was frustrated," Paulus said. "I wanted it to come back and it didn't happen right away. But now I can see my instincts coming back and I'm being more aggressive."

``I felt like I had to step up tonight because we weren't making shots," he added. "This was the first game I was aggressive from start to finish."

Paulus even displayed some of the pigskin toughness when he returned to the game moments after getting five stitches on his chin after diving on the floor near a table on the sideline.

This may not be your typical Duke team, but the Blue Devils keep on finding ways to win.

They barely got past Indiana, Georgetown, Holy Cross, George Mason and Kent State - all at home. Yes, they were 10-1 - but people were shaking their heads as the Blue Devils continued to move up the polls to the No. 6 spot.

However, this victory not only proved that Paulus can play, but also that the Blue Devils can beat a quality team away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils averaged 17 turnovers in the first 11 games. They committed just six against Gonzaga.

Credit Paulus for taking care of the ball and making quality decisions. Credit McRoberts for his phenomenal passing ability.

``You just don't see guys 6-foot-11 pass the ball like Josh," Paulus said.

Credit freshman Jon Scheyer for chasing Raivio around for what seemed like an eternity.

It was the first-ever meeting between the powerhouse that Coach K has built and the mid-major power that Mark Few has taken to another level more than 2,600 miles away.

The Zags played well enough to hold a double-digit lead entering the second half, especially with the stellar play of Abdullahi Kuso (8 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks). But the margin was a single point and Kuso, Raivio and talented freshman Matt Bouldin were all virtually invisible in the final 20 minutes.

In fact, the only player who stepped up offensively was guard Jeremy Pargo, who finished with 21 points.

``We're not into moral victories," Pargo said. "We've proven we can beat anyone."

While Gonzaga returns back to Spokane on a two-game losing streak, Duke and its point guard will go into the holidays with a renewed sense of confidence.

``I'm still trying to get better. I'm still not where I'd like to be," Paulus said.

But the hug and smile from his coach in the hallway after the game said differently.

Related Stories
Tuesday Media Quotes
 -by TheDevilsDen.com  Feb 6, 2007
Bouncing Around The Country
 -by ScoutHoopsExperts.com  Nov 1, 2006
Paulus Is Key For Duke
 -by TheDevilsDen.com  Oct 18, 2006

Get the 2014 Scout.com Recruiting Yearbook with an annual Total Access Pass
Sign Up Today!

Upgrade Now!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from ScoutHoopsExperts.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Players to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite players. Click name to add to My HotList.
PG Greg Paulus (profile)
[View My HotList]
Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Basketball > Christian Brothers Academy > Alumni
Basketball > Gonzaga
[View My HotList]