clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Paulus Will Start Against UNC

New, 17 comments

See what a little effort trying to stop a dunk instead of flopping gets you Greg?

So to recap.  Way back in the summer Greg Paulus was named a tri-captain with Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson which announced to the world Paulus would not be starting.  Sure enough when the season rolled around, Nolan Smith was the starter at point relegating Paulus to the bench.  The reason for the change was the feeling on Mike Krzyzewski's part that they could reasonably trade Paulus' offense for Smith's defense and makeup for the points some other way.  Now that Duke is amid a full blown struggle on offense Paulus is back as the starter.  Why? Because the offensives woes were cured to some extent with Paulus playing 40 minutes against Miami and scoring 18 points in leading the Blue Devils back to win in OT.  Nolan Smith on the other hand has been fairly hapless, especially versus Clemson.

As a point of strategy in a matchup with UNC this Krzyzewski faced a dilemma.  Which player would work best versus UNC: Smith or Paulus?  On one hand Paulus has played well versus UNC hitting six threes in Chapel Hill last season and at Duke he kept the Devils in the game.  Also, given UNC's penchant for giving up three pointers a hot Paulus could get Duke off to a good start.  On the flip side, starting Paulus pretty much signals you are conceding that Ty Lawson is going to do a lot of things he normally does.  With Smith you have a chance to slow Lawson down.  A Paulus-Lawson matchup, in theory, means Lawson will basically get what he wants any time he wants since there is not much hope the Duke senior will keep keep Lawson in front of him.  And there is no other matchup that works there.  Paulus cannot guard Ellington so he will be on Lawson and likely to be burned in the process.

The question is whether Lawson can inflict more damage on Duke than Paulus does on UNC? I think Lawson can especially if he really harasses Paulus on defense.  Lawson can be a great defender when he wants to be.  It would be nice for Lawson to have a Miami moment and decide to pressure the ball from the get go, force Paulus into some confidence crushing turnovers that will throw him off his game. Add to this my thinking that this game will hinge on the ability of the UNC offense to perform versus the Duke defense.  With Paulus starting that indicates a greater advantage for the UNC offense than previously thought and a battle of offenses tends to benefit UNC more than Duke in my opinion.

Call it a chess match, it will be interesting see whether this move works.