The bell has rung and the Blue Zone stock exchange is back in business. Each week The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the Duke basketball world.
Bull Market—Trending Up
- Andre Dawkins: Dawkins had a rough game against UCLA last week. The graduate student played a mere seven minute and hit just one of his five shots. This week, Dawkins completely turned it around. In two games 'Dre was a combined 11-for-17 from beyond the arc. What's most surprising is Dawkins' defense. Over the two games he accumulated three blocks and two steals. That's not the Andre Dawkins Duke fans remember from his first few years on the team, but it is the Andre Dawkins fans look forward to watching during ACC play.
Amile Jefferson: Amile's play during the week seems to be overshadowed by Dawkins' strong play. But Jefferson has really come on of late, playing great ball over the past two weeks. In his last four games, Jefferson is averaging 7.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in 18.5 minutes, highlighted by his career-high 14 rebounds against Eastern Michigan. It's nice to see Jefferson's game clicking with a tough road game against Notre Dame on the horizon.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack were basically written off after an early-season home loss to N.C. Central, but the 'Pack have come back strong and look like they may actually be players in the ACC. It'll take some luck to top Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina, but N.C. State looks pretty good right now, despite losing C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Rodney Purvis and Richard Howell this season. The reason the Wolfpack have been successful is sophomore forward T.J. Warren, who has emerged as arguably the best player in the ACC—better even, perhaps, than Jabari Parker. Warren is averaging 23.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on 54.1 percent shooting from the floor. The Durham native is sure to put on a show when he travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 18.
- Mason Plumlee: With Brook Lopez done for the season and Kevin Garnett looking roughly 20 years older on the court than he did last season, the door has opened for Plumlee to capture a big role in the Nets' rotation. On New Year's Eve Plumlee took advantage of his opportunity, setting career-highs in minutes and rebounds in a 15-point, 13-rebound effort against the San Antonio Spurs. Mirza Teletovic is starting at power forward right now for the Nets, but the more Brooklyn struggles the more likely it is the rookie Plumlee will ascend to the starting role.
- Rodney Hood: Something seems off with Rodney. He was suffering from an illness this week, but still, he hasn't been himself over the past few games. Since the calendar turned to December Hood has struggled to score the same way he did early in the season. The Mississippi State transfer averaged just 12.8 points per game on 39.0 percent shooting—29.6 percent from long range. For comparison's sake, Hood's season averages sit at 17.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting from the floor and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc—undoubtedly still impressive numbers. Hood and the Duke faithful alike are hoping the athletic wing can recalibrate his shot and return to his early-season form in ACC play.
Marshall Plumlee: Plumlee has on the whole been playing extremely well lately. He has been tenacious on the offensive glass and is earning every minute on the court. In his last game against Elon he recorded career-highs with four points and four rebounds. But one aspect of his game has become a glaring deficiency with his increased playing time—his free throw shooting. His performance at the line lives up to the name foul shooting. The 7-footer is now 0-for-15 from the charity stripe in his career. To put that into perspective, the lowest single-season percentage from the line for either Miles or Mason was the 44.1 percent Mason shot his sophomore season. To reach that mark for his career Marshall must make his next 12 free throws in a row. Needless to say, that tall task is unlikely to be fulfilled, and Marshall may well take the crown as the worst Plumlee free-throw shooter.
Louisville Cardinals: Things don't look to good for the reigning champs right about now. Rick Pitino's club suffered a loss to No. 18 Kentucky on Dec. 28, dropping the Cardinals to 0-2 against ranked foes. Then, the team announced forward Chane Behanan would not be playing the remainder of the season after being dismissed for violating university policy. Behanan was second on the team in rebounding with 6.3 per game to go along with his 7.6 points per contest. In addition to losing Behanan, Louisville will be without Kevin Ware the rest of the season, as the guard will now redshirt as he continues to recover from his gruesome injury suffered against Duke in the Elite Eight a season ago. The Cardinals, led by Russ Smith, have the talent to be an elite team once again this season, but this week was a rough one for Louisville.
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