Krzyzewski tripped up by Duke star’s antics
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
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.