Originally written on SCACC Hoops  |  Last updated 11/15/14
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If I were Miles Plumlee I wouldn't know whether to be flattered or a bit depressed at the notion that I was being compared to Brian Zoubek.

That isn't a slight on Zoubek though, his performance from the middle part of the 2009-2010 season is the thing of Duke legend and the Blue Devils would not have won the national title without him.

But the expectations for Miles Plumlee have always seemed to have been so much greater for him.

Following Duke's victory over Maryland on Saturday there are many Duke fans and media members alike who were comparing the oldest Plumlee to Zoubek. He had a dominant performance on the boards grabbing 22 rebounds in that game.

But Plumlee also netted 13 points as he, and his younger brother Mason dominated the smaller, less talented (at least in the post) Terps. Zoubek did it against a much more talented Maryland squad.

Immediately though Miles Plumlee's performance started garnering comparison's to Zoubek's breakout performance against Maryland during his senior year. Prior to that his career had simply been as a sparingly used 7-foot big man who wasn't athletic, had no real offensive game to speak of and was foul prone.

So I guess I can get the comparisons for Plumlee if you just look at fouls. Miles has been a walking foul waiting to happen at times as was Zoubek was during his playing career.

Both had a lot of expectations and hope lumped on them. Zoubek because he was big, a true 7-footer, something Duke hadn't had in a while. Plumlee was an athletic big who chose Duke after decommitting from Stanford after a coaching change.

Plumlee was athletic, and his younger brother Mason who had committed to Duke as a junior in high school, was seen as a big-time big man. Many felt that Miles would be a solid big man from day one because of his seemingly freakish athleticism. And at least from the starting lineup his freshman year, perhaps Mike Krzyzewski felt the same way.

But that hope was short lived as Miles failed to play with consistency and often looked confused and timid out on the court. And after just a few early games he spent most of the rest of his freshman season watching from the bench.

He was a role player over the course of his sophomore season, Zoubek's senior year. Miles was joined by his younger brother and the two athletic Plumlees were expected to supplant the senior big men of Zoubek and Lance Thomas.

An early injury set back Mason's freshman year and Thomas took advantage with his rangy athleticism and versatility as as defender and rebounder.

Zoubek was expected to be relegated to the bench again behind both Plumlees but by the middle of the year he was starting and becoming a rebounding machine. He became the personification of team player.

He did all the things nobody normally wants to do as a big man. He set screens and he rebounded like he had not other goal in his life. His size also made it difficult for opposing bigs to get off easy shots in the interior.

And just like that Miles Plumlee was back to the bench player that Zoubek was expected to be. He was improved but not ready for starting action.

The major difference between Miles Plumlee and Zoubek is that during his career Miles has showed glimpses of what he was truly capable of being; an all-around basketball player. His athleticism has allowed him to be a potential beast in the post on both ends of the floor.

But the inability to do it consistently has marred his career to an extent. It isn't that he has been a failure, that is far to strong and negative a term, but he hasn't lived up to his potential that many, myself included feel he has.

We have all heard he is a great practice player but that player has never shown any consistency in games.

Zoubek never had such expectations. He was always seen as limited offensively with not much to contribute on that end of the floor. There may have been hope early but that was abandoned by his junior year.

Not so for Miles who has always generated a hope that he would turn it on. Now in his senior season that hope that Miles could be a dominant all around player has apparently given way to hopefully he can be as good as Zoubek was in his senior season.

I'm not certain that is going to happen. It isn't that I wouldn't want that to happen, but I'm just not convinced after one game that Plumlee is ready to make that leap or have the same effect. This season he has been as inconsistent as ever.

The problem could be the type of players Miles is playing with versus the team that Zoubek had to work with.

The differences between this year's Duke team and the 2009-2010 team are significant and too numerous to count.

For starters that was a far better defensive team with multiple guys that could apply perimeter pressure. This year's team doesn't have that.

That team had some senior leadership and junior stars. This year's team has only one senior, Miles Plumlee, who is a captain, but not a particular vocal or emotional one. This year's team relies heavily on a freshman, and the juniors, while very good players, aren't quite the superstars that say Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler were.

The biggest issue I have with the Zoubek/Plumlee comparison is just the fact that Miles' history has been marked with inconsistency.

Last season  and the season before he had statistically dominant games or brief stretches but never could consistently follow up on those performance.

Zoubek as a senior wasn't dominant, but was always generally pretty consistent. So after one game the immediate comparisons are in my opinion just a bit too hopeful.

The two players are distinctly different players with different strengths. Zoubek and Plumlee can rebound, but can Miles do it with consistency? Plumlee is more of an offensive threat but never shows it with consistency.

That question of consistency has plagued this team all year and Miles his entire career. So while I will hold out hope for him as I have always have, until he does it with consistency I am not convinced he will have a Zoubekian impact on this year's team.

And with only six regular season games left and only two post season games guaranteed, he has precious little time to follow through on those hopes.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @DukeSportsMKline and visit our Facebook page- Duke Sports Blog. Questions e-mailus at dukesportsblogmkline@gmail.com

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