Plumlee Enjoys Team USA’s Visit to West Point, Gets Back to Work at Nets Practice Facility

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

WEST POINT – During his four years at Duke, Mason Plumlee would often hear Coach Mike Krzyzewski talk about his experiences at the United States Military Academy.

Coach K’s voice would take on a unique timber, an amalgam of nostalgia, pride and respect.

“I think Coach says it best: ‘Our military is the best team we have,’ ’’ said the Brooklyn Nets’ power forward-center who was invited to work out with this squad and suddenly has a legitimate chance of representing the United States in the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Spain.

It was here on Monday that Krzyzewski, Class of ‘69, brought the USA team for a practice session that really was a lovefest with the men and women in uniform and their families.

There was a half-court shooting contest, skills games against Army’s men’s and women’s teams, and a battalion’s worth of USA basketball t-shirts tossed into the crowd at Christl Arena.

“It was fun,’’ Plumlee said. “I had never been to West Point before. I have a couple of buddies that were here so I always wanted to come up and check it out. And of course I’ve heard Coach K talk about it very highly.

“He’s very proud of being from here and it’s cool to see they have a little shrine to him in one of the buildings. So it’s been a fun day all in all.’’

Krzyzewski was at home on Monday, but Plumlee enjoyed the home-court advantage today. The USA squad worked out at the Nets’ practice facility in New Jersey.

They’ll play the Dominican Republic Wednesday night and return to the Nets’ facility on Thursday for another practice. Friday night there is a game against the Puerto Rican national team.

Krzyzewski will have some difficult decisions to make, possibly as soon as Thursday.

He’s currently carrying 16 players. He must make four cuts before the team heads to Spain where it will face Finland on Aug. 30 in its first game.

Plumlee, who scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in 15 minutes of play in the team’s 95-78 win over Brazil on Saturday, continues to make a strong case as a mobile, athletic backup center.

Based on who Krzyzewski started and who played the most minutes, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson are locks. So is center DeMarcus Cousins.

That leaves Chandler Parsons, Damian Lillard, Kyle Korver, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Gordon Hayward and Plumlee battling for the final four spots. Drummond, DeRozan and Hayward were healthy but did not play against Brazil, although Krzyzewski has cautioned about reading too much into that.

The last cut could come down to whether Coach K wants another guard, such as Lillard, or a big man, such as Plumlee. No one expected Plumlee to have made it this far, except for Plumlee.

“You know, I didn’t say it publicly but you had the mindset coming in where if I play well, I have a chance to make the team.

“That just grows with each step. You get to the 20, the 20 goes to 16. Hopefully, the 16 goes to 12. You just keep trying to stay ahead of the pack.’’

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