Despite coming into November with little to no clout, one of the hottest teams in the nation at this early point in the season has to be the Duke Blue Devils. While we all wanted to pick North Carolina State or North Carolina to finish above Duke in the ACC, it seems one thing was heavily overlooked: Duke’s experience.
Sure, experience didn’t seem to factor into Duke’s embarrassing first-round (really second round) loss to Lehigh last March, but there are few seniors in the nation outside of Peyton Siva, Jeff Withey, and Pierre Jackson impacting their teams the way Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry have so far for the 4-0 Blue Devils.
In Thursday’s 18 point win over Minnesota, Plumlee notched 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, to go with Curry’s game-high 25 points on a super efficient 8-of-11 from the field. A seemingly pleased Coach K added after the game “maturity is what you need to be this good.”
Not only do Plumlee and Curry seem to be more mature, but they’re rubbing off on the players around them. Excluding fellow senior Ryan Kelly, who has also been a terrific senior for Duke on the early season, freshman Rasheed Sulaimon is averaging an impressive 11.5 points per game while shooting 47 percent from three, and sophomore point guard Quinn Cook – who didn’t see all that much playing time as a freshman – has really adapted well to running the offense, and picking and choosing his spots to score.
Duke bouncing back from a disappointing season all starts and ends with great leadership, and it seems this years team really has that. “I think guys like Quinn are stepping up playing great and Ryan is playing better too,” said Plumlee after Wednesday’s win. “I think everything is heading in the right direction.”
Duke will get a chance to keep up the momentum, taking on a former NCAA adversary/David to their Goliath in VCU on Friday night. Luckily for Duke, they won’t have to worry about Eric Maynor this time around.
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