Mason Plumlee started the season off exactly how Duke Blue Devil fans were hoping.
Yes, the competition was the Georgia State Panthers and not many have them penciled into one of their Final Four slots, but a big game from Plumlee was needed to set the tone for things to come. That’s exactly what the 6-foot-10 senior delivered, leading the #8 Blue Devils to a 74-55 victory with 19 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks, two assists and one steal.
He shot 8 for 12 from the floor while the rest of the team combined to shoot only 45.7% against a much weaker Panthers team whose logo is eerily similar to that of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. He recorded half of Duke’s rebounds and the team only totalled six blocks in the game, meaning 66.6% of those belonged to Plumlee.
The center started the game very strong, nearly recording his 19th career double-double by half-time having 10 points and eight rebounds before the break. He sparked a late 13-2 run in the half after blocking Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter twice out at the three point line allowing Duke to take half 32-22. Hunter, listed at 6-foot-5 appeared much more content to try and shoot over the big man then attempt to drive past him. Something Plumlee admitted after the game was unusual considering his length advantage clearly bothered Hunter.
This was the type of game Duke needed from its leader as Plumlee has accepted, with open arms, the task of leading the Blue Devils back to the top of the ACC. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if he manages to average a double-double in his final season with the Blue Devils.
He set the tone defensively, grabbing any lose ball in sight and intimidated shooters all game long swatting away the ball from those foolish enough to attempt to shoot over him.
Despite his 19 points, Plumlee said after the game he felt like he had some chances he could have finished that got away from him. These are signs of a true leader as even though he led the way on both ends of the floor, he still wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
Unlike Plumlee, coach Mike Krzyzewski is most likely very satisfied with Plumlee’s performance and will ensure Plumlee isn’t putting too much pressure on himself as the season progresses. With Plumlee as the foundation, Coach K knows he’ll have to rotate the right supporting cast around him based on who’s performing to maximize the team’s success. One thing is certain, Krzyzewski doesn’t have to lay awake wondering how his center will perform on game day and its a comforting thought considering he could lead the team on deep run come March.
The 2012-13 Blue Devils is Plumlee’s team and he displayed last night that he’s determined to make sure this season doesn’t finish the same way the last one did.
Follow Michael on Twitter @x5MikeRobs