The biggest issue for the Duke Blue Devils this season has been their consistency on the glass. In Duke’s four losses this season they have been outrebounded all four games, and they lose the rebound-battle by an average of 12.5 per game in their losses. In Duke’s 16 victories this season the Blue Devils have a rebound-margin of plus-6.6 per game and have only had a negative rebound-margin three times in a victory this season. In Saturday’s match-up with Florida State rebounding was going to be a big factor for Duke if they were going to win, especially on the offensive end. The Seminoles hold opponents to 37.6 percent shooting, which is 7th best in the NCAA. For Duke to win they would need to clean up the offensive glass because misses are a guarantee against Florida State.
Duke did in fact beat Florida State 78-56 , and the reason why was because they put in work on the offensive glass. Duke had a season-high 26 offensive rebounds — which is more than the 24 total rebounds that Florida State had — and they were able to overcome only shooting 31 percent from the field. Duke’s 26 offensive rebounds now takes their offensive rebounding average in wins up to 11.9 per game. When Duke plays with size and uses their length on the boards they are still a title contender; when they get pushed around on the boards they have almost no chance at winning a big game.
A big reason why Duke was able to gain an edge on the boards was the play of Marshall Plumlee. Plumlee is the third Plumlee brother to play for Duke, but he has also played the least during his time with the Blue Devils. Plumlee has accumulated four DNPs this season, but his development is vital for Duke’s continued success in the ACC. He is the only true big on the roster, standing seven-feet tall and weighing 260 pounds. Plumlee’s size and strength down low gives Duke a presence in the low-post that can disrupt opposing bigs on defense and gives them someone who can haul in tough rebounds.
On Saturday Plumlee reeled in seven offensive rebounds and also played a career-high 21 minutes. It wasn’t a fluke that Mike Krzyzewski decided to play Plumlee as much as he did against Florida State. The Seminoles presented Duke with a challenge in the paint, and Coach K had the perfect counter in Plumlee.
The win over Florida State gave Krzyzewski his 900th career win at Duke, but if he wants to improve on the four National Championships he has won there solidifying a rebounding advantage for his Blue Devils is a necessity. Do not be surprised if you see more playing time for Plumlee and a bigger difference in rebounding-margin for the Blue Devils.