Ohio State Assistant Coach Greg Paulus Talks Next Step For Buckeyes' Point Guard JaQuan Lyle

By Tim Shoemaker on May 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm
JaQuan Lyle needs to develop for Ohio State next season.

Greg Paulus relates to JaQuan Lyle. While at Duke, Paulus experienced a lot of the same things Lyle did last season when he was Ohio State’s freshman point guard. Paulus has been there before.

It’s precisely why Paulus, now an assistant coach with the Buckeyes who just finished his fifth year in the program — the third as an assistant — since his playing days ended with the Blue Devils, flashed a smile when he was asked about the current Ohio State point guard who just wrapped up his freshman year.

The two have a unique relationship.

“It’s always difficult for a freshman point guard to come right in and have that opportunity,” Paulus said Wednesday. “You’re learning through the fire. I did it myself when I was down there at Duke in my first season, but the nice thing about when I had it was I had six seniors around me. [Lyle] was a guy that had a good year for us last year, is a guy that got better throughout the year and is a guy that is going to continue to get better as he progresses and matures through the game.

“It’s one thing that we do spend a lot of time together and we will continue to work and develop him not only on the court, but off the court as well.”

Last season, Lyle averaged 11.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. Not bad by any means for a freshman point guard in the Big Ten. But Lyle often admitted what plagued him the most was inconsistency. It was often two great games followed by one bad one.

As the point guard on an inexperienced team — and even though he was a freshman himself — that often times led to a poor performance by the team. That’s not to say he was the sole cause of many of Ohio State’s losses — there were plenty of other issues last year — it’s just an attempt to illustrate the importance of point guard play. When that position isn’t producing with consistency, it’s very tough to win games.

Paulus believes having that up-and-down year under his belt will help Lyle, though. And Paulus will attempt to help him make that leap from freshman to sophomore year, too, because again, Paulus has been there.

“I think going through the experience helps because I can relate and understand exactly what he’s going through when he’s had some really good games and when he’s struggled through some moments. I’ve been through all that,” Paulus said. “Understanding playing the position, teaching him on the floor, watching some tape with him, you can see his maturation throughout the season.”

With Lyle, Kam Williams, Jae’Sean Tate, Marc Loving, Keita Bates-Diop and Trevor Thompson all returning, Ohio State brings back its top-six scorers from a year ago. And even though the Buckeyes will still be somewhat inexperienced with Loving being the lone senior, last year should be used as a great learning experience for the other guys who had never really played any significant minutes at the collegiate level before with the exception of Tate.

For Lyle, as Ohio State’s point guard, that was especially important. The hope now, of course, is Lyle takes that often-discussed leap from freshman to sophomore year and the Buckeyes benefit as a team from it.

“There’s going to be ups and downs when you have nine freshmen and sophomores who are all trying to through it at the same time,” Paulus said. “I think everybody learned and grew through that experience and the guys that are returning that had that experience will be better for it.”

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