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(Sidenote: My, it has been a long time since I've been on here and things have definitely changed! I like!)
I'm sure many of you watched Duke beat the UNC Tar Heels, so I won't rehash it here. But I do want to take the time to profile one particular player: Greg Paulus. Paulus had a rough season last year, struggled to find his range, his game. He is a smaller player among freakish athletes, and when he wasn't performing well, he took a lot of flak. A whole lot. I'm sure it was hard for him and his family to hear people openly discuss how awful they thought he was.
I will admit that I was in the category of people who doubted Paulus and wondered how he had made his way to Duke. From all reports, he was a gifted QB so why would he come to a sport like basketball which seems to be such a struggle But the mark of a real winner, a hero, if you will, is not what happens when the going is good. It's how they rise up when everyone thinks they are defeated. Think about the movies. The greatest heroes overcome adversity when all looks lost. No guts, no glory, or so the saying goes.
Despite taking a beating from the public last year, in the last few games, Paulus has shown that Coach K was not crazy when he recruited him. He has the range (did you see where he was pulling from? He was taking whatever shot he wanted and they just dropped), he has heart, and even though he makes mistakes, he has shown that he can raise the level of his game to the elitest of the elite.
Which one do I value most? Heart. You can teach someone how to shoot, but you can never teach heart. And to be clear, heart is not celebrating like crazy when the other team makes a turnover in the first 10 minutes of the game. You know who you are.
Back to Paulus. To come back out here, still given a starting role on a squad that everyone thinks is way over your head, and now make the front page of ESPN.com (that's the pic above) because of your 6-8 shooting from the 3 point line against the Tar Heels - that's why we love sports. Redemption.
Not only that, but because this is one of the biggest rivalries among all sports, his performance will probably make the big game preview reels for years to come.
While there is no telling what the future holds for Paulus, I for one am happy to see the "every man" who people least expect rising to the challenge when everyone counted him out. That's two in one week: Eli Manning and now Paulus.
Who's got next?
(Cross-published at Pleats 'n Cleats