Will the Blue Devil defense be able to deal with Georgetown’s Thompson, Jr. offense? Can Duke’s offense pick it up from a game ago?

> Duke Chronicle

Although the No. 18 Hoyas (4-2) have had a tumultuous start to the 2006-07 campaign and are coming off a loss to unranked Oregon, they still boast an athletic frontcourt that includes Jeff Green-who torched the Blue Devils with 18 points and seven assists last season.

In that game, the Hoyas’ Princeton-style offense took advantage of Duke’s pressure defense, exposing the Blue Devils’ to a litany of backdoor cuts and layups.

“We overextended ourselves on the defensive end,” said point guard Greg Paulus, who had 14 points and four assists in last year’s loss. “We need to stay in position to make plays this time.”

Having already faced Air Force-another team that runs the same offense-in the semifinals of the CBE Classic, however, the Blue Devils believe they are ready to handle Georgetown this time around.

“[They] get a lot of backdoors, and that’s where we got taken advantage of last year,” said Dave McClure, who redshirted last season. “I think last year we were a little too set on denying the pass which left us vulnerable to the backdoor, where they got a lot of buckets.”

> The Hoya (Georgetown’s student paper)

“There are some things that we need to straighten out, things we need to fix,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said, “and so whether we are playing Duke or playing someone at the other end of the spectrum, I’ve said this from the beginning, we have a long way to go.”

For Georgetown, the improvement must come on both ends of the floor if it is to be the first non-conference opponent to win in Durham in 46 games.

Wooden Award candidates junior forward Jeff Green and junior center Roy Hibbert combined for just nine points and 11 rebounds against Oregon.

“We have to go about giving [Roy], as well as Jeff, the ball in different ways,” Thompson said. “They have to be much more aggressive about trying to get the ball, and then, we have to put the ball in the basket…”

> The Hoya: “Duke-Georgetown Fault Line Runs Through Paulus Home”

Beads of perspiration are beginning to surface on Greg Paulus’ furrowed brow, a byproduct of the rising temperature and the mounting pressure of the competition at stake. He takes a deep breath as he surveys the court before him, determination flaring in his eyes. As the starting point guard for the Duke Blue Devils, he has faced situations like this before, but at this moment, a creeping insecurity gnaws at his self-confidence. The raucous din of Cameron Indoor Stadium has been replaced by the steely silence of a claustrophobic basement. The gaze of a thousand perfect strangers swapped for the intent scrutiny of family members. Instead of palming the familiar sphere of a basketball, he holds only a small paddle. Greg’s opponent doesn’t sport Carolina blue or Terrapin red, and this isn’t the insanity of Big Monday or March Madness. It’s the Paulus family’s annual holiday ping-pong tournament, and Greg is once again at the mercy of his father Dave.

“Greg’s a phenomenal ping-pong player, but he’s still fourth best in the house,” Dave Paulus says. “I’m first, [brothers] David and Chris are second and third, and Greg’s fourth. That is one game where age has not caught up with me.”