Krzyzewski tripped up by Duke star’s an­tics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Duke Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski learned to deal with all kinds of egos and ec­cen­tric­i­ties in guid­ing Team USA to Olympic gold in 2008, 2012 and last Au­gust in Rio de Janeiro.

But Coach K is now deal­ing with a prob­lem he’s never seen be­fore in Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen: A se­rial trip­per.

The No 5-ranked col­lege squad in the US has only had a full ros­ter for about three days this sea­son — and af­ter Allen’s lat­est es­capade, it’s not clear when the Devils will be at full strength again.

Krzyzewski in­def­i­nitely sus­pended Allen on Thurs­day af­ter he tripped an Elon player the night be­fore — the third time this year the player has been in­volved in a trip­ping in­ci­dent.

Krzyzewski ex­plained the sus­pen­sion in a brief state­ment, say­ing the pro­gram “needs to take fur­ther steps re­gard­ing his ac­tions that do not meet the stan­dards of Duke basketball.”

At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence com­mis­sioner John Swof­ford sup­ported the move, say­ing “sports­man­ship is one of the core val­ues of our league” and that the sus­pen­sion “demon­strates ad­her­ence to this im­por­tant prin­ci­ple.”

Allen pre­vi­ously tripped op­pos­ing play­ers from Louisville and Florida State.

The tal­ented 6-foot-5 guard is a com­pet­i­tive player, and ESPN an­a­lyst and for­mer Wake For­est coach Dino Gau­dio won­ders if the trip­ping in­ci­dents are re­ac­tionary.

“I re­ally think the kid is gen­uinely sorry for what he did and he’s dis­ap­pointed in him­self,” Gau­dio said.

“I think it’s al­most, when (Allen) gets frus­trated, that’s the way he re­acts — he lashes out like that with trip­ping, and maybe Mike com­pletely gets his at­ten­tion and breaks him of it. Hope­fully this stops it in the short term.”

Krzyzewski has not de­cided whether Allen will prac­tice dur­ing his sus­pen­sion, or how long he will sit out.

The Blue Devils don’t play again un­til Dec 31, when they visit Vir­ginia Tech (10-1) in their ACC opener.

“It’s not like you give a sus­pen­sion and it’s all over,” Krzyzewski said on The Dan Pa­trick Show on Thurs­day.

“It’s a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and I’m go­ing to use it as that and as a teach­ing mo­ment. A teach­ing mo­ment does not stop by giv­ing one game. Maybe that’s what it is. I don’t know that right now.

“Maybe it’s three games, maybe it’s two weeks, but he won’t play un­til I feel good about the en­tire sit­u­a­tion.”

Allen’s an­tics are the lat­est twist in an al­ready dra­mafilled sea­son for Duke, which was picked No 1 in the pre­sea­son be­cause of a starpacked lineup that was pro­jected to in­clude Allen and four im­me­di­ate-im­pact fresh­men.

So far they’ve all been avail­able at the same time for less than a week.

Fresh­man for­wards Jayson Ta­tum (foot), Mar­ques Bolden (lower leg) and Harry Giles (knee) weren’t healthy at the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son, with Ta­tum and Bolden fi­nally play­ing on Dec 3 against Maine and Giles mak­ing his long-awaited de­but against Ten­nessee State on Mon­day night — about 48 hours be­fore Allen’s lat­est trip­ping in­ci­dent.

Allen is the team’s No 2 scorer, av­er­ag­ing 16 points, but the Blue Devils have played without him be­fore — he sat out the Maine game with a nag­ging toe in­jury.

Now with Allen out again, Duke will need sopho­more Luke Ken­nard to con­tinue his im­pres­sive play.

Ken­nard has scored at least 20 points in five of his past six games.

“There’s no ques­tion that it im­pacts the pro­gram,” Gau­dio said. “There’s no ques­tion it’s a bump in the road, but I think ... with the other guys, ev­ery­body was say­ing, ‘How’s Mike go­ing to put all th­ese pieces to­gether?’ and ‘All th­ese kids are so tal­ented.’

“If Mike fig­ured out a way to man­age those play­ers (on the US Olympic teams) with those egos and win gold medals, he’ll fig­ure out man­ag­ing th­ese young fresh­men com­ing in.”

Allen’s sit­u­a­tion also is an un­usual dis­trac­tion for the Blue Devils, who must deal with the rare sus­pen­sion of a team­mate.

The list of Duke play­ers dis­ci­plined by the pro­gram is a short one that in­cludes Rasheed Su­lai­mon, who in 2014-15 be­came the first player kicked off a Krzyzewski-coached Duke team.

Those Blue Devils re­grouped and months later won the pro­gram’s fifth na­tional ti­tle — without Su­lai­mon.

How Duke re­sponds this time is un­clear, but what­ever hap­pens Gau­dio said Krzyzewski “ab­so­lutely did the right thing” by wait­ing a short while be­fore de­cid­ing to sus­pend Allen.

“There’s such a rush to judg­ment, I think the sec­ond that it hap­pened, peo­ple want Grayson Allen thrown off the team and that’s not how it works,” Gau­dio said.

“I trust Mike Krzyzewski. I think he’s earned that trust of the peo­ple at Duke. Let him look at it and make the de­ci­sion.”

It’s not like you give a sus­pen­sion and it’s all over. It’s a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and I’m go­ing to use it as that and as a teach­ing mo­ment.” Mike Krzyzewski, Duke coach

CHUCK BUR­TON / AP

Grayson Allen of the Duke Blue Devils trips Elon’s Steven Santa Ana in the first half of their NCAA game in Greens­boro, North Carolina on Wed­nes­day. Allen was called for a tech­ni­cal foul on the play and on Thurs­day was in­def­i­nitely sus­pended by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

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