When Mason Plumlee plays to his dominant averages, Duke's chances of success are high. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
Every Saturday, the News & Observer takes a look around the ACC. That also provides an opportunity to check in with the Blue Devils and look for any emerging trends.
Mike Krzyzewski has repeatedly said that no ACC player is as important to his team as Mason Plumlee is to Duke. And when you look at Plumlee’s performances in Duke’s most recent losses, Krzyzewski appears right.
In Duke’s two losses to unranked teams—at Maryland Feb. 16 and at Virginia Feb. 28—Plumlee was a combined 4-of-12 for 14 points and 10 rebounds. Throughout this season, he has averaged 17.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per (single) game.
Against the Terrapins, when Plumlee went 2-for-7 from the floor for a season-low four points, exhaustion was the key factor (though Alex Len certainly had something to do with his struggles). Duke was finishing a three-games-in-six days swing and had won close games against Boston College and North Carolina earlier in the week. Plumlee played 38 minutes against the Eagles and 35 against the Tar Heels before playing 33 against the Terrapins.
“We’re playing on fumes, and I think you can tell that in Mason,” Krzyzewski said after the loss. “I thought he looked exhausted the whole game.”
Against Virginia, a double team swarmed Plumlee whenever he touched the ball in the post. His five shot attempts were one more than his season-low of four, which came in only 25 minutes at Florida State. Plumlee played all 40 minutes against the Cavaliers.
“He’s been great,” Krzyzewski said after the Maryland game. “We’ll keep him. We believe in him.”
And Duke needs him.