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Duke Takes Gonzaga In The Garden!

We've heard a lot of people question Greg Paulus lately, suggesting that he
is not a good enough player to compete at this level. Thursday night, he
responded to his critics, putting together a game which at times verged on greatness.

We haven't looked at the stats yet, although obviously he scored well, but
stats aren't always what demonstrates brilliance. What Paulus did in this
game was to grab a somewhat lethargic team (at least offensively) by the lapel
and shake it until it awoke, and until it roared.

It started near the end of a dismal offensive stretch for Duke, when Paulus
suddenly kicked his game up a notch. It looked for a bit as if he might be
channeling Bobby Hurley. He played with immense passion and courage and
not least of all intensity, and his teammates brought their game up to meet his.

The really cool thing was that you could see it starting - his confidence was
there, and he hit a couple of shots and then started trying things, chasing
loose balls, making passes, cutting to the basket, pushing his team on.

In short, the Paulus you saw against Gonzaga is the Paulus Duke recruited: an
extension of the coach on the floor, in the old cliche, and a passionate
quarterback who can organize his team and advance it. Parts of that game
were as good as a Duke point guard has played in years.

It was a good thing he came through, because for most of the first half, Duke
seemed rudderless offensively. They barely cleared 22% shooting, and
didn't seem to have a clue about how to penetrate Gonzaga's defense. But
even during this part of the game, Duke began to draw confidence from its point

By the second half, it was pretty clear that Paulus was moving his game to a
different level. First there was the pass to Josh McRoberts for a
dunk. McRoberts returned the favor a few minutes later when he got the
ball to Paulus for a three. And after that, he hit Paulus for a layup with
a terrifically smooth pass.

The first half was frustrating, there is no doubt about it. But what we
saw was the emergence of the guy J.J. Redick predicted would become the next
hated Duke player, a guy who is capable of tremendous leadership. It was a
brilliant turn, and timely too.

There was a lot of praise to go around. Jon Scheyer did a number on the
Zag's Derek Raivio, a kid who is shooting 94% from the line by the way.
Scheyer got a lot of help from DeMarcus Nelson; both guys had to fight through
tons of screens.

McRoberts finished with 11/11, but he did a lot of thing well, and played
excellent defense. And Gerald Henderson started to use his
athleticism, driving to the basket, elevating, doing things no one at Duke has
done for a while now.

Duke's defense continues to be very good, as the Devils held the Zags better
than 25 points under their scoring average.

In general, this a good game for Duke. And it was a great game
for Paulus.

We'll be adding to this story between now and the weekend, so please check
back for more!

When we posted our game report after the Gonzaga game, we said we were going
to update it some more. The day got away from us so it took longer than we
thought to come back to it.

But a couple of points:

1) as a poster on the board suggested, we should have discussed Dave
McClure. He has become a really important member of this team. All the guy
does is get it done. Actually, that kind of reminds us of who he reminds
us of: Chris Carrawell. The guy just manages to get the ball, or
take it away, or hit a shot when it's needed. He's just solid. You can't
help but be better when you have a player like that.

2) you have to be doing something right to only score 20 points in the first
half and still be in the game. Duke's defense continues to impress: Andy
Katz says
it might be the best D Duke has played "in decades."

Duke still has a lot to work out, but with the great defense and the
spectacular game by Greg Paulus, there's a lot to build on. Jon Scheyer
confirmed what we thought: "Right from the
beginning, you could just tell he was at another level," Scheyer
told the Herald-Sun.
"We really wanted to get this one, and Greg really
willed our team to this win.
..When Greg plays like
that, everybody feeds off of him."