If there’s any team that can take away the negative press from BC—the worst performing team in the ACC, most recently suffering an 89-83 loss to Fairfield Wednesday night—it’s fellow conference neighbor, Duke.
Arguably the most polarized player in all of college basketball, Duke’s Grayson Allen has found himself in the heat of the spotlight once again. In the last 48 hours, Allen has drawn national attention after blatantly tripping Elon’s Steven Santa Ana and receiving a technical foul in Wednesday night's game. On the bench afterward, Allen threw a tantrum that sparked wildfire on the internet.
Intentionally tripping opponents has become a pattern for Allen, who earlier this year was ridiculed for tripping players twice in less than two weeks against Louisville and Florida State. Enough was enough; after Wednesday's incident, it was time for a penalty, and Allen finally got one. Yesterday morning, Duke suspended the junior guard indefinitely.
The highly contentious topic surrounding one of college basketball’s most scrutinized teams has raised much debate. Gavel Sports editors weighed in on the suspension.
Ellen Gerst: Waking up yesterday morning couldn't have been fun for Grayson Allen. I find it hard to feel bad for him, though, especially since this is his third tripping incident in a year. You would think that someone (ahem, Coach K) would have gotten him to calm down a little by now. That being said, it's easy while watching college basketball to forget that the players are all between 18 and 22 years old and usually have the maturity to match. I think Duke suspending him was a necessary first step in getting him to clean up his game, but more needs to be done in order to really get the message across: dirty tricks like this aren't okay in college ball. The ACC needs to implement some form of punishment to set a precedent of intolerance for violence in years to come but also to ensure that it doesn't look like Duke, the conference's best basketball program, is getting special treatment.
Ryan Fennell: Coach K was clearly within his right to punish Allen, there’s no dispute about that. But this is not the first time Allen has had such an egregious incident. During his sophomore season last year, Allen tripped opponents within weeks of each other against Louisville and Florida State. There’s clearly a pattern here for Grayson Allen; he can’t control his emotions and lacks the composure necessary for a supposedly premier college athlete and expected professional player. There’s no place for kicking, tripping, or any MMA-style moves in college basketball.
Basketball fans will quickly recall the major controversy of the 2016 NBA Finals—the suspension of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for delivering a strike to LeBron James’ groin. Similar to Allen, Green had previously struck another player, Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams. While Duke’s coach authorized Allen’s punishment, the league issued Green’s suspension. That alone might make Allen’s suspension more noteworthy. In any case, Coach K made the correct judgment to get the message across to his player.
ET: Would we care about this situation if it was any team other than the one in royal blue and white? No. But, as I see it, Grayson Allen willingly chose Duke, and along with representing such a name comes consequences like being under constant, intense scrutiny and pressure. When the going gets tough, Allen cannot crumble. Coach K’s suspension was a necessary step—a long time coming—in the right direction. This punishment might be described as a gift in disguise to address Allen’s emotional outbursts. The sanction will finally grant him the time he needs to seek proper help. Duke’s season might just depend on his ability to turn around. Coach K had no other option but to suspend his player—the only question might be why he did not do so even sooner.
Thursday morning, Allen finally received the sufficient discipline to account for his entirely unacceptable, immature inability to suppress his mental frustration on-court.
On the other hand, part of the reason NBA scouts find Allen—who was told he would be a first-round pick had he foregone his current junior season—so attractive is because of his passion. Grayson Allen plays with a fervor and competitive edge unmatched by any other college player. At the same time, however, picturing Allen on an NBA sideline, where the pressure increases ten-fold, is a scary thought.
For now, though, Allen’s challenge is to maintain that same hype and ardor in a respectable manner that suppresses his immature outbursts. If he can do so, then the Blue Devils might still remain the favorite come March.