A few thoughts on the Carolina Barnstormers Tour event in Cameron on Monday night:
OK, I’m gonna say it.
I don’t hate Greg Paulus anymore.
It’s out there now.
Chalk me up as maybe the only North Carolina alum to ever utter such a phrase, but it’s true.
And it’s not because Paulus was extremely helpful to a media type like me, using his few minutes between the 3-point shooting contest and starting the second half of the exhibition to chat with me about his college football prospects, et. al. That’s beside the point, but it should be said that he was very generous with his time.
But even after entering the game to a chorus of boos, Paulus seemed as though he was having the time of his life playing what was essentially a pick-up game against a bunch of guys who had no business being on the same floor as him. Maybe he really wasn’t having a big ol’ time, but he acted like it, and in these kinds of things, that goes a long way.
He egged on opposing players, joking with them and encouraging them to shoot in front of him. He rebounded for the 13-year-old Moore Magic player in the 3-point contest and made a point to go over and congratulate the kid after he was done. He smiled A LOT and signed an autograph for anybody and everybody who was seeking one.
As a fan or an event organizer, you couldn’t ask for anything more than Greg Paulus gave you.
Duke’s David McClure was the best pure athlete at the event.
It’s easy to see why he was such a shutdown defender for the Blue Devils, but it’s hard to see why he didn’t play more. I understand he’s not much of an offensive threat, and in Duke’s offense you have to be able to spread the floor and shoot the 3, but I wish I could see McClure play at a high level again and see if he could slash and drive. He clearly won the dunk contest, no matter what the pro-Carolina crowd had to say.
A buddy of mine from high school, Casey Coleman, played in the game, hitting a 3, a jumper and a couple of layups. Casey belonged out there. Well done.
The 3-point shooting contest was classic.
There were four participants, the main guys being Paulus and UNC walk-on J.B. Tanner.
The guys had 10 shots from any spot behind the arc, and Paulus coolly made 8 of 10 from the wing.
Up stepped Tanner, who only played when UNC was up by double-digits in the waning minutes of games.
So what does Tanner do? Hit his first eight shots to tie Paulus.
This is when event organizers stepped in and tried to call it a tie, which neither Tanner nor Paulus was willing to do. This was Duke-Carolina, after all.
So they stepped back behind a white line, which was the back endline for the volleyball court. They were about 25 feet from the basket, and again they matched each other, hitting 4 of 5.
Anybody who’s watched hoops knows that this wasn’t too suprising coming from Paulus. But Tanner was just stroking, lofting up as pretty a jumper as you’ve ever seen.
Again, it was declared a draw, and again the two players waved them off. They moved back to just inside the jump circle, some 40 feet away, and set up for three shots each.
They both buried two.
Again, the P.A. guy announced that it’ll just have to be a tie.
No way. Tanner and Paulus each took a ball and stepped to the halfcourt line. The guys decided they would treat this fourth tiebreaker as a game of HORSE, with a miss following a make declaring the winner.
After Tanner and Paulus missed their first attempts, a guy standing behind me said to another, “This could take all night.” I turned to him and said, “No, it won’t. Watch.” Basketball players are notorious for halfcourt shooting contests. They do it all the time. They’re uncannily good at it.
Sure enough, Tanner drilled his second attempt. Nothing but net.
Paulus rimmed out. When it left his hand, it looked good.
To me, this was my favorite part of the night.