Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mason Plumlee a key for Duke

CHICAGO - Freshman center Mason Plumlee's performance Wednesday night against Iowa State at the United Center merely reinforced what's become obvious about Duke for a couple of weeks now.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils are a good team that can only become a Final Four contender if Plumlee (right) improves and emerges as a fourth standout in the rotation. Plumlee scored all seven of his points in the first half of Wednesday's 86-65 defeat of Iowa State, and did it in impressive fashion.

Left wide open on the perimeter, he sank a 3-pointer, the first of his career. He slammed home an authoritative one-handed dunk off a nice bounce pass from Kyle Singler. Plumlee also hit Jon Scheyer on a backdoor cut for a layup with a pretty pass from the top of the key.

Plumlee's only hiccup was failing to convert some shots in the post, including a couple of alley-oop passes. Coach Mike Krzyzewski wanted him to use two hands to catch the second missed alley-oop, but nonetheless was pleased.

"Mason played very well tonight," Krzyzewski said. "With a couple finishes, he could have been spectacular."

Although Duke is playing extremely well, its shortcoming is that only three players - Scheyer, Singler and Nolan Smith - are legitimate scoring threats. It's not easy to get to the Final Four when your opponent only has to guard three players.

And the bottom line is that while Krzyzewski calls Plumlee "ball friendly," Duke's other post players aren't as skilled with the ball. Miles Plumlee, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are fine defenders and rebounders, but haven't forced opponents to pay them a lot of attention when Duke has the ball.

So Mason Plumlee - who's still finding his way as a freshman who missed the first six games with a broken wrist - is the most obvious choice to become a third scoring threat. He still needs to play better on defense after having trouble defending the high ball screen against Iowa State.

Plumlee also needs to develop the delicate art of scoring around the basket. But there's no doubt he has the skill to become a big contributor for Duke.

If he does, the postseason possibilities for the Blue Devils will skyrocket.

-- Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

i agree with that assessment to an extent. those 3 scorers are very dangerous and when they drive to the basket theyll typically draw an extra defender and if they miss that allows zoubeck or thomas or the plumlees a chance at an easy put back. plus dukes big arent really asked to score too much as long as they play smart, get offensive rebounds and play good defense.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that likely 2011 Duke commit Marshall Plumlee is the best of the bunch. This team will be stacked with bigs come '11.