A ‘grateful’ Paul Jorgensen finds ‘right fit’ at Butler

Butler guard Paul Jorgensen thanks fans after defeating Villanova 101-93 in a game in Indianapolis Saturday. (By The Associated Press)
Butler guard Paul Jorgensen (5) shoots in front of Villanova defenders Phil Booth (5) and Mikal Bridges (25) in the first half of a game in Indianapolis Saturday. (By The Associated Press)
Butler guard Paul Jorgensen (5) save the ball from going out of bounds during the second half of the team's game against Villanova in Indianapolis Saturday. (By The Associated Press)
Butler guard Paul Jorgensen (5) goes to the basket in front of Villanova forward Omari Spellman (14) in the first half of a game in Indianapolis Saturday. (By The Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS – Walk out to the end of the long pier in Hermosa Beach, California and watch the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean and you’ll be mesmerized by its magnificence and beauty.

The event happens every 24 hours, and has since the beginning of time, yet, it never ceases to amaze.

A similar happening occurs in sports, where an athlete finds him or herself in just the right situation, under the right leadership and circumstances, and they are able to flourish like never before. And we’re amazed by it.

It’s happened since the advent of competition, it happens with regularity today, despite more dissection of athletes and competition than ever before throughout the history of man, and it will happen until the end of athletic competition.

Albert Pujols still happens.

Tom Brady still happens.

And the emergence of Paul Jorgensen can still happen; and is happening; inside of Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The Butler guard played the game of his life Saturday, as he led the Bulldogs to a 101-93 win over No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Villanova in front of 9,244 fans that crammed themselves into the iconic and sold-out arena.

The fact that the offensively-challenged (until Saturday) Bulldogs (12-3, 2-0 Big East) could bury 15 of 22 3-pointers and lead the Wildcats (13-1, 1-1) by 23 midway through the second half wasn’t as unfathomable as what Jorgensen is doing this season.

Butler has played Villanova either to the final minute or beaten the Wildcats, in six of their nine league meetings, and have now won three consecutive in the series. So Saturday’s win wasn’t mind-boggling.

“They’ve given us trouble,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said prior to the game, “a lot of trouble.”

But to witness Jorgensen becoming one of the catalysts for this Butler squad, with all due respect, has to be stunning to everyone, Jorgensen included.

“The biggest thing is that they believe in us,” Jorgensen said of his Butler coaches. “They believe in what I can do and what the whole team can do. As a player, I’ve been in different situations, and when a coach believes in you, and gives you confidence every day, it’s something that I don’t take for granted. I know how special it is and how a lot of people don’t have that.”

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That is about as close as Jorgensen will ever get to touching on the first stage of his collegiate career, which was unproductive and disappointing, to say the least.

Jorgensen spent two seasons as a role player for George Washington and by the end of his time with the Colonials, it was clear that he was playing for a coaching staff that had little confidence in him.

After playing double-figure minutes in the first 23 games of the 2015-16 season, former George Washington coach Mike Lonergan used Jorgensen to that degree just six times in the Colonials’ final 13 games.

Yes, the same player that hit 8 of 13 shots, including a 25-footer and a 30-footer (neither at the buzzer), and totaled a team-high 23 points against the nation’s top team Saturday, could barely get in games at George Washington by the end of his time there.

“It’s just about opportunity,” Jorgensen said.

And that is precisely what former Butler coach Chris Holtmann and now current Bulldog coach LaVall Jordan have given Jorgensen.

Jorgensen averaged 15minutes and 4.9 points per game for the Colonials the last time he competed, but this season, those numbers have increased to nearly 29 minutes per game and over 12 points per outing.

A few weeks ago, Butler was holding a mid-week media availability session and Jorgensen sauntered out of the locker room for practice and the first person he saw was Jordan, and the first thing he did was go give his coach a hug. If you were curious as to why Jorgensen had the confidence to pull up from 30 feet in transition Saturday, that touching moment between a coach and player explains it.

Jordan isn’t going to tolerate poor or dumb play, but if a guy can make a play, he has the freedom… the confidence, to attempt it under the first-year Butler coach.

“There are a lot of good kids (i.e. Pujols and Brady and now Jorgensen) around the country,” Jorgensen explained, “who don’t have the chance and don’t have the right fit. I’m just grateful to have the right fit now.”

No more grateful than the Butler coaches and fans.

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