Plumlee finally ready for action
Marshall Plumlee arrived at Duke 18 months ago to play basketball with his older brothers.
Tonight, with one brother having graduated and moved on to the NBA Development League and the other a national player of the year candidate for the top-ranked Blue Devils, Marshall Plumlee finally is ready to appear in a Duke regular-season game.
After redshirting the 2011-12 season and missing Duke’s first nine games this season with a stress fracture in his right foot, the 7-foot center is expected to see action when the Blue Devils face Cornell tonight (7 p.m., ESPNU) and Elon on Thursday (7 p.m., ESPNU).
“I can’t imagine anyone more ready to play than him,” said Mason Plumlee, Duke’s senior center and the Plumlee brother closest in age to Marshall.
In street clothes wearing a boot for Duke’s previous games this season, Marshall Plumlee took part in pregame warmups for the first time on Dec. 8 when the Blue Devils beat Temple 90-67 at East Rutherford, N.J. He was available to play that night, but Duke’s coaching staff decided to let him have extra time to heal during the team’s break for final exams.
Tonight, 11 days later, his coaches and teammates say his time to contribute on the court for Duke has arrived.
“I think he’s going to be ready to go,” Duke associate head coach Chris Collins said earlier this week.
Marshall Plumlee has been practicing with the Blue Devils and has made an impact on his teammates.
“When he’s guarding you in practice, it’s different,” Mason Plumlee said. “He’s 7-feet tall and he’s active. He’s aggressive in there.”
Last year, Mason Plumlee worked against his older brother, Miles, in Duke’s practices. Miles Plumlee completed his college career in March before the Indiana Pacers selected him in the first round of June’s NBA draft.
Marshall Plumlee’s availability will enhance a Duke team that already owns three wins over teams in this week’s Top 25 as well as victories over two other teams that received votes.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Marshall Plumlee will give depth in the post behind Mason, who is averaging 19.1 points and 11.4 rebounds, and Ryan Kelly, who averages 13.1 points and 5.2 rebounds.
“You’re adding a 7-footer who is 240 (pounds) and runs the floor,” Krzyzewski said. “He plays with such enthusiasm.”
Duke sophomore point guard Quinn Cook said Marshall’s enthusiasm in practice, along with his physical talents, will make him a solid addition to an already accomplished team.
“You can’t teach 7-feet,” Cook said. “He plays hard. He’s that guy you hate having to play against, but you love having him on your team.”
Kelly called Marshall Plumlee “a difference maker” in Duke’s rotation.
With Mason Plumlee and Kelly starting at the post positions, Duke has used 6-7 junior Josh Hairston and 6-8 Amile Jefferson as reserves behind them. Marshall Plumlee, though, will give Duke a more physical presence.
“Marshall is certainly somebody that’s going to help our basketball team,” Kelly said. “He plays hard rebounds and runs the floor, things that can help us.”