Sorry for those of you who spent your Monday without the Rookie Report, but now that the internet issues have been sorted out we can get back to sorting out Duke’s freshman ballers. This was another up and down week for the Blue Devils as they scored a solid win over rival North Carolina before falling on the road to “not our rival” Maryland on Saturday night.
As has been the case all season Duke’s depth has mostly consisted of Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston and some Alex Murphy depending on how things are shaking out. That came back to bite them on Saturday as Maryland’s physical front line took care of Mason Plumlee and rendered Amile Jefferson completely useless and has effected this week’s rankings just a little bit.
So without further posturing, here’s this week’s edition of the Duke Basketball Rookie Report.
1) Rasheed Sulaimon
Another week, another No. 1 for Sulaimon. Since breaking through his midseason slump Sulaimon has become one of Duke’s most important players and has found new and different ways to put his stamp on games lately.
Against North Carolina Sulaimon played a typical Sulaimon game: 5-for-11 FG, 1-for-4 3PT, 13 points, five assists, two rebounds. With Quinn Cook firing on all cylinders Sulaimon was able to play his game be a reliable wing option for Duke’s offense.
Maryland was a different story. Sulaimon made his noise at the free throw line, getting there and making all seven of his attempts. He struggled from the field (4-for-12, 1-for-4 from three) but by getting to the line he was able to fill his role as third scorer and make up for the lack of production from Plumlee.
2) Amile Jefferson
Only by a hair though does Jefferson maintain his standing at No. 2. After a rough outing against Boston College last Sunday Jefferson started the North Carolina game on the bench. Seemingly motivated by the benching, Jefferson gave a solid 20-minute effort with two points and eight rebounds (three offensive).
Unfortunately, the Maryland game was a different story. Maryland’s front line of Shaq Cleare, Alex Len, James Padgett and Charles Mitchell was a horrible matchup for Jefferson and his game, leading to just eight minutes with two rebounds on the game.
Jefferson will be important going forward but against giant teams like Maryland he is rendered useless on both ends of the floor.
3) Alex Murphy
Murphy gave the Blue Devils eight solid minutes against Maryland filling a Ryan Kelly-ish role. He finished with four points and a steal but he made one play during Duke’s second-half run that showed why he should be getting more time.
Down five with just under 14 minutes to play, Cook fed Murphy inside and the freshman went up strong, drew a foul on Padgett, and sank the layup. He would miss the free throw, but that play came in the middle of a 7-0 run by the Blue Devils that brought them back into the game.
Murphy posted a three-minute goose egg against North Carolina, bumping him down to No. 3 for sheer lack of material to point to.
4) Marshall Plumlee
Two games, two minutes, one turnover. He may as well still be injured because Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t seem to have a place for the youngest brother in his rotation.
Jimmy Kelley is the founder and lead writer of Devils in Durham. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham