At the start of June, Navy coach Billy Lange had only met Greg Paulus once, and even that was a brief two-minute encounter at the Final Four.
A little more than two months later, Paulus is on board with the Midshipmen as an assistant coach.
It's the first coaching gig for the former Duke point guard, who played quarterback for Syracuse's football team a year ago, and it comes after Paulus spent time this summer working at Navy's basketball camps.
"He was grabbing laundry and doing drills," Lange said this morning. "You name it, he did it, and he did it with great energy and enthusiasm. As I got to know him, I just felt like this would be a great hire."
Paulus already had some ties to Navy. One of his closest friends while growing up in Syracuse, N.Y., was Andy Tormey, who captained the Midshipmen's lacrosse team in 2009. Paulus visited his friend in Annapolis last summer, and stopped by the basketball office during his stay.
He struck up a friendship with Jason Crafton, one of Navy's assistants, and the two stayed in touch. When Paulus returned to work Navy's camp this summer, long-time Mids assistant Joe Burke had just left for the head coaching job at Skidmore and Lange had a job opening.
Lange and Paulus hit it off while discussing the job, and a few days later Lange got a call from one of Paulus' more prominent advocates: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"It was quite an honor to speak to him," Lange said. "He told me all the things I expected to hear. He just spoke volumes about his character, and a lot of things about Greg were similar to the way I was raised. He just spoke a lot about that, and having played at Army, he understood and respected the institution and felt like Greg would be a great fit."
Soon enough, other calls began to trickle in. Lange contacted Foxsports.com college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, with whom Paulus interned during the NCAA tournament. Fran Fraschilla called. So did Boston Celtics assistant Kevin Eastman and former Villanova star Ed Pinckney.
"Both of those guys said 'With your passion, he’s perfect for you,'" Lange said. "'He's got your type of passion and love for the game.'"
Ultimately, the only potentially uncomfortable issue with the hire is the red-clad fan base that resides in the area.
Maryland fans are known for being merciless to Duke players even after their college days are over (Lange recalled former Blue Devil Jason Williams being approached several times at a restaurant while he was in town to work Navy's summer camp a few years back), and Paulus was a particularly inviting target for their disdain and derision during his career.
Lange said he has already discussed with Paulus the importance of being smart about where he goes in the area --- just in case.
"At the end of the day, Greg's character and reputation are above and beyond reproach," Lange said. "I'm not concerned he's going to do anything that is going to lead Terp fans to antagonize him. He's a little bit smarter than that."
And, Lange believes, will be a good enough in his first coaching stint to bolster Navy's chances of chasing down a Patriot League title.
"It's a phenomenal shot in the arm and an elevation in an an area of our program that was already very good," Lange said. "I'm pumped."