You are hereGreg Paulus Must Sit

Greg Paulus Must Sit

By hagrin - Posted on 10 January 2007

I know he won the Gonzaga game basically by himself. I know that he has shot the ball much better from the outside this year. I know that without him Scheyer's game will suffer immensely and completely change the way Jon plays. With that being said, Duke fans, coaches and players should all be saying the same thing -

Greg Paulus must sit.

I believe I've figured out what's wrong with Paulus as a point guard on the offensive end. Paulus, when making a move on a defender, is only dribbling the ball 3 to 4 times before picking up his dribble no matter where he is on the court and no matter which direction he is facing. I believe he's so overly concerned with running the Duke motion offense and not pounding the air out of the ball that's he leaving himself in terrible, non-assist positions. Watch the games - he will take 3 to 4 dribbles against a defender and pick up his dribble looking for an "attacking" type pass (an attacking pass is a pass that moves the ball closer to the opponent's hoop). If that pass has been cut off by the defender, he then turns his back to the opponent's hoop and tries to make a non-attacking pass around the peremiter - a pass he's throwing all too frequently. It's because of his lack of penetration and lack of attacking passes that the Duke offense suffers tremendously and forces his teammates, especially McRoberts, to catch passes too far away from the basket.

Why has Greg Paulus' play suffered so much this year? Here's a few of the many reasons -

  • The JJ Hangover - Last year, Duke only had two scoring options and in many games it really only had one - JJ Redick. If Paulus made that non-aggressive swing pass along the perimiter last year, it quite frequently landed in the hands of Redick who was running free off a screen and who would launch from all distances. This year, Paulus doesn't have the aggressive, #1 option on the floor with him at all times since this Duke team scores more by committee than they did last year. Jon Scheyer and DeMarcus Nelson, while both good outside shooters, don't possess the green light to shoot the ball like Redick did last year due to differences in talent, experience and trust.

  • Size Matters - Guys, no matter what the ladies say, this is a fact of life. Paulus, in the few games he has played well in this year, competed against guards of comparable size. Gonzaga's Ravio is built like a sophomore in high school and Paulus actually owned a strength advantage against him. Now, in ACC conference play, Paulus will be matched up against very physical, taller, longer and quicker guards. This causes Paulus a major problem and you can see its effect by the way he dribbles the basketball. When Paulus has to make a penetrating move against a longer, taller, more athletic opponent, look at his shoulders in relation to the basket. Very rarely will you see Paulus with his shoulders squared to the basket in a position to take his defender either way off the dribble. Ninety percent of the time Paulus has to turn one way or the other to "shield" the defender away from his dribble which severely limits his ability to distribute the ball, to penetrate and to see the court.

  • Physical Conditioning - Paulus is coming off an offseason injury which has effected his play this year without a doubt. However, when I look at pictures of him this year as compared to last, I question what type of physical conditioning he's in. He seems to have lost definition in his arms, he gets those neck fat rolls now when he dribbles, he's sporting the beginnings of a double chin, his forearms look flabby and generally just seems slower this year which could explain his lack of penetration. This is all unconfirmed because I don't have access to body fat tests, I don't see him in practice, etc., but just a cursory glance at photos and videos has led me to this conclusion.

  • The Ball-less Statue - Where are the cuts down the lane we saw during the Gonzaga game? Paulus, too frequently during offensive possessions, doens't dip down to the basket and instead just roams around the perimeter in what I would call a passive, supporting role. He needs to stretch the defense, make his defender work and try to create seperation by moving without the ball.

  • "I Think I Can, I Think I Can" - Although confidence is an issue with almost every athlete, the analysts are blowing the confidence issue well out of proportion. Sure, being excluded from the starting lineup against Georgia Tech is going to weight on his mind and potentially cause him to overthink his actions on the court. However, if that's the case, you must sit him and alleviate the "Duke's Starting Point Guard" pressures off of him until he matures. I truly believe if it was purely a confidence issue then Paulus would have snapped out of it after the Gonzaga game, but instead he has regressed even further.

The reasons above only talk about Paulus' offensive game. Do I even need to discuss why Paulus hurts Duke on the defensive end? He can't guard a plant (and not the plants Rick Majerus described that grow in Florida classrooms), he causes the interior defense to collapse off their men to stop penetration and hurts the rebounding game.

The most troubling part about this entire discussion is that Duke needs Greg Paulus to be the point guard they expected he would be. They don't have the personnel at the point to absorb too much time on the bench for Paulus. Although a lineup of Scheyer, Nelson, Henderson, Thomas and McRoberts looks great on paper, having Scheyer run the point leaves Nelson as the only legitimate threat on the perimeter who won't have to worry about ball handling responsibilities.

What can Paulus do to fix his offensive struggles?

  • Square his shoulders more when dribbling the ball outside on the perimeter
  • Move more without the basketball, specifically, more cuts down the middle of the lane
  • Stop picking up his dribble after a very predictable number of bounces when trying to make an offensive move
  • Penetrate and shoot more often, but only as the situation allows for it

Until Duke figures out their point guard situation, it's going to be a very, very long year.