Rough trip in store for Duke, Allen in Louisville

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Joedy McCreary

Sev­enth-ranked Duke and Grayson Allen visit No. 14 Louisville to­day. They'll likely face a hos­tile crowd with a long mem­ory of how Allen tripped one of the Car­di­nals last sea­son.

Duke and Grayson Allen are about to em­bark on another tough road trip.

The sev­enth-ranked Blue Devils and Allen visit No. 14 Louisville (14-3, 2-2 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) on Satur­day to face a hos­tile crowd with a long mem­ory of how the guard tripped one of Car­di­nals last sea­son.

If Tues­day night’s visit to No. 9 Florida State was any in­di­ca­tion, Allen and the Blue Devils (14-3, 2-2) surely will be re­minded of the trip of the Car­di­nals’ Ray Spald­ing last Fe­bru­ary. Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes — the sec­ond vic­tim of trips by Allen last sea­son — said after the Semi­noles’ win over Duke that he’d “been wait­ing a long time to see him again” and it’s a safe bet that the fans in Louisville feel the same way.

Here’s where things stand head­ing into Satur­day’s matchup with Louisville and what’s next:


Allen has tripped an op­po­nent three times, so it is fair to say it’s a pat­tern. Allen re­ceived a fla­grant foul last Feb. 8 when he tripped Spald­ing, then drew a rep­ri­mand from the ACC — but no sus­pen­sion — after he tripped Rathan-Mayes in the fi­nal sec­onds of a game 17 days later. All was calm around Allen un­til Dec. 21, when he flung his leg out to trip Steven Santa Ana of Elon, then punched an empty chair dur­ing an out­burst on the bench. A day after that episode, Allen was sus­pended in­def­i­nitely — which turned out to be for only one game, a blowout loss at Vir­ginia Tech — and was stripped of his team cap­taincy.


Ev­ery move Allen makes is un­der heavy scru­tiny with Twit­ter, cell­phone video cam­eras and DVRs al­low­ing so­cial-me­dia sleuths to post slow-mo­tion clips of any ac­tion by the guard that can be per­ceived as inf lam­ma­tory. It hap­pened dur­ing the Bos­ton Col­lege game last Satur­day, when clips popped up online show­ing a BC player set­ting a screen on Allen and the Duke guard ex­tend­ing his left leg in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to keep his bal­ance — which none of the me­dia in at­ten­dance even no­ticed live. In the next game at Florida State, video cir­cu­lated online show­ing Allen ap­pear­ing to shove a Semi­noles as­sis­tant while falling into the bench — only to have Allen be ab­solved when Semi­noles as­sis­tant Den­nis Gates posted a state­ment on Twit­ter say­ing “I know what a dirty play is and I was not the vic­tim of one.”


That’s a tough ques­tion to an­swer, be­cause his role and play­ing style have changed over the last month. After he tripped the Elon player, he was benched for the rest of the first half and when he re­turned after half­time, he seemed more pas­sive than usual — al­most ten­ta­tive. And in the three games he’s played since his sus­pen­sion ended, he’s be­come more of a fa­cil­i­ta­tor and less of a threat to score, pil­ing up 23 as­sists in that span while shoot­ing much less fre­quently. Per­haps as a re­sult, Allen has been called for fewer fouls since the sus­pen­sion — just five in his last three games, after be­ing as­sessed an av­er­age of 2.2 in his first 12 games this sea­son.


Coach Mike Krzyzewski said the sus­pen­sion would last un­til he “felt good about the en­tire sit­u­a­tion where he is at.” Then in a move made with no fan­fare, Allen slipped back into the start­ing lineup Jan. 4 for the Ge­or­gia Tech game. After that game, Krzyzewski de­fended the de­ci­sion as “ap­pro­pri­ate.” That was also the fi­nal game for Krzyzewski be­fore he un­der­went back surgery that will keep him out for a few weeks. The move spared act­ing head coach Jeff Capel from fac­ing any ques­tions about when Allen would re­turn or whose de­ci­sion it would be to bring him back.


No, it’s not. The Blue Devils have been a light­ning-rod pro­gram for more than two decades, and Allen is the lat­est in a long line of Duke play­ers — from Chris­tian Laet­tner in the early 1990s to J. J. Redick in the mid-2000s — to draw the un­re­lent­ing ire of op­pos­ing fans. A key dif­fer­ence is, he’s the first to be in that sit­u­a­tion in the age of so­cial me­dia.


De­pends on who you ask. Duke fans and de­fend­ers say Allen is a highly emo­tional player who toes the fine line of ag­gres­sive play — Krzyzewski cred­its Allen’s dive for a loose ball as the turn­ing point in the Blue Devils’ na­tional cham­pi­onship game vic­tory in 2015, even cre­at­ing a team award specif­i­cally to honor it. But crit­ics say his predica­ment is en­tirely self­in­flicted due to his doc­u­mented trip­ping an­tics. After the Florida State game, Capel said that “the kid has been through enough. He’s brought a lot of it on him­self and some of it is crazy, some of the things that has hap­pened that he’s done.”


In this Feb. 20, 2016photo, Duke’s Grayson Allen (3) charges into Louisville’s Jaylen John­son (10) to re­ceive his fifth foul dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NCAA col­lege basketball game, in Louisville Ky.

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