Plumlee, Blue Devils remain in the running
As Duke shakes off the pain of an ACC Tournament loss and prepares for this Friday’s NCAA Tournament game against Albany, the Blue Devils received some accolades on Monday.
Senior center Mason Plumlee, Duke’s leading scorer and rebounder, was named a second-team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers’ Association.
The 6-10 Plumlee, who is second among ACC players in scoring (17.2), rebounding (10.2) and field goal percentage (59.2 percent), also was named first team All-ACC by the league’s coaches. He joined fellow senior Seth Curry, a guard, on the coaches first-team All-ACC team.
Plumlee, who averaged 1.5 blocked shots per game to place fifth in the league, also made the ACC all-defensive team in the voting of league coaches.
“I’m happy for him,” said associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who coaches Duke’s interior players. “He’s had a great year and he’s carried a heavy load. Statistically, he’s had as good a year as any big guy really that we’ve had at Duke, to average a double-double against the best schedule in the country.”
Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon was named to the ACC’s all-freshman team.
Curry made the coaches’ All-ACC first team after averaging 17 points per game and making 43 percent of his 3-point shots. Despite rarely practicing this because of a painful condition in his lower right leg that nearly prevented him from playing at all, he has had 16 games this season where he’s scored at least 20 points.
Plumlee and Curry were joined on the coaches’ All-ACC first team by Virginia’s Joe Harris, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and Miami’s Shane Larkin.
Duke senior forward Ryan Kelly was named honorable mention despite the fact that he missed 13 games from Jan. 8 to Feb. 28 with a right foot injury.
Wojciechowski said the fact that Curry and Kelly were out of practice so much is even further evidence of the special season Plumlee had. The three of them are tri-captains for Duke, but Plumlee often found himself the lone senior captain on the practice floor.
“He’s never had an off day, because we rely on him for leadership and stability for our team,” Wojciechowski said. “That, for me, has been as impressive as anything. Mason has been asked to do it every day. When he hasn’t done it in a practice or in a game, it affects everyone. When he’s playing well, it affects everyone. That has been as impressive as what he’s done statistically.”
In addition to Plumlee, the other ACC players on the league’s all-defensive team include Durham’s Julian Gamble of Miami and two of his teammates, guards Durand Scott and Larkin, as well as Virginia’s Jontel Evans and Florida State’s Michael Snaer.
Having been upset 83-74 by Maryland in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, Duke (27-5) heads into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region. The Blue Devils play 15th-seeded Albany at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center on Friday (12:15 p.m, WRAL).
Wojciechowski said the team’s attitude while it practiced in Durham rather than playing in Greensboro over the weekend was good. It was evidence, he hopes, of a lesson learned.
“You don’t get do-overs this time of year,” Wojciechowski said. “You have to get it right or else the season is over. Losing in the ACC Tournament was a dose of reality for our team. Hopefully, we only have to learn that lesson once.”