The newest member of Navy’s basketball coaching staff, Greg Paulus, took a few minutes with After Action to talk about his time at Duke and even his tryout with the New Orleans Saints as he makes the transition to Sail Boat U.
AA: Why do you want to coach?
GP: I’ve always wanted to be a coach growing up. It’s just a passion of mine and a love I’ve always had even when I was playing in high school and college I always knew I wanted to be a coach.
AA: Did you want to coach at a service academy much like Coach K got his start at West Point?
GP: I don’t know if his experience had as much to do with my decision. When I talked to him he was thrilled and so positive about his experience at West Point. He knew the type of experience that I am going to have and he’s just absolutely excited that the opportunity has presented itself at the Naval Academy.
AA: How did the job at Navy come about?
GP: I have had a couple friends here. One of my best friends Andy Tormey graduated from here, so I have come to visit him a couple times. He was the lacrosse captain and he graduated with me. We grew up in Syracuse and then I also knew Kristen Waagbo, the new assistant lacrosse coach here. We went to Duke together and are really close. Getting a chance to visit them up here, I got a chance to meet Jason Crafton and had the chance to be around the other guys at the staff. I met Coach [Billy] Lange at the Final Four, and he offered me a chance to work this summer, and I jumped on that immediately. We have developed a good relationship so far, and I can’t wait to keep building it.
AA: What was it like to try out for the New Orleans Saints after your one year quarterbacking Syracuse’s football team last year?
GP: I got a call after the NFL draft asking to come down to the rookie mini-camp and went down there for three days and played really well. I got a call back a few weeks later to come back with the whole team at the veteran mini-camp that was a three day tryout and I was very pleased with how I performed. Just worked out where they were looking to go a different direction, and I had a great experience there, and they are such a class organization that it was just something that I will cherish forever.
AA: What was it like returning to football after not playing since high school?
GP: I was at Syracuse for a year. I was able to play for coach Doug Marrone there and had a terrific year there. I am looking forward to watching them build up the program to what it was in the past. I was able to also get my masters the past season.
AA: Was it always your plan to come back and coach basketball, not football?
GP: I did, that was the plan.
AA: What do you bring to Navy’s basketball team?
GP: I think my experiences playing at the highest level, playing at Duke, playing for Coach Krzyzewski. Anytime you can learn the game and play at that type of level the knowledge that you are going to learn and the experience that you have you can relate to the players. You can communicate with them, and then playing football only advanced that. I think my personality fits in well here and I’m looking to help out in any way that I can.
AA: Will you be bringing the patented Duke floor slap on defense to Annapolis?
GP: If you see O.J. [Avworo] or one of the other point guards doing it you’ll know where it came from.
AA: Have you been able to speak with the players yet?
GP: I got a chance to meet them when I was working the basketball camp. I am still getting a chance to know some of the younger guys, but right now I am just trying to get settled in here and trying to make the transition.
AA: How does the Navy basketball experience differ than that in Durham, N.C.?
GP: The Naval Academy is just an unbelievable institution. It’s a special place and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. I am still learning about the Patriot League. I know it’s a very competitive league, where everybody in the conference and the teams have stepped up their play over the last couple of years. When these teams get into postseason play, you’ve seen Bucknell beat Kansas. You’ve seen teams like Lehigh almost win in the NCAA tournament. You’ve seen competitive games that go on in league play, so I know it’s a very good league, and it’s only getting better with the coaching staffs that are assembled here with each team and each university, so I am really excited to be a part of Navy and Coach Lange. I think he has done a terrific job, and I have just a tremendous respect for him, and being a part of his staff is something I’m going to take a lot of pride in.
AA: Why do so many college coaches come from Duke?
GP: I know there is a bunch. You look at Tommy Amaker and Coach Wojo and Coach Collins. You look at Quinn Snyder and I know Mike Brey didn’t go to Duke but I think there is that passion for basketball. That love and desire to play at the highest level and to get back and teach student athletes and be able to use their experiences to help other people.
AA: Have those coaches helped you get into coaching?
GP: I’ve talked to all those guys on a consistent basis and maintained those relationships when I was at Duke and even when I was out of Duke and they have been so great to me and teaching their experiences and have passed on little wisdoms that will speed up my learning process so those guys have been tremendous with helping out former Duke players and taking care of the current ones there.