Grayson Allen was back starting for Duke Wednesday night against Georgia Tech, just two weeks after being suspended “indefinitely” for blatantly tripping an opponent for the third time. That indefinite suspension lasted all of one game, as Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski decided that was enough time for Allen to completely change his ways. In the end, Allen’s suspension was a joke.
Over the last 24 hours there have been a ton of pieces written discussion how long the suspension should have been and whether or not enough punishment had been meted out. Some have ripped the move, while others have essentially apologized for Coach K, claiming he brought Allen back now so he could take the brunt of the criticism before he departs to undergo back surgery. Eamonn Brennan — a college classmate of mine and a hell of a writer — penned a well-written piece explaining both sides of the issue.
If you’re going to claim Coach K brought Allen back now because he had to be the one to do it before he goes away for a few weeks, that’s a terrible argument. Jeff Capel is taking over while Krzyzewski is gone and if this was a major issue, he should have have sat down with his boss and and mapped out when the suspension should end. If things change, he’s fully capable of picking up a phone and asking if something should change. Capel is 41 years old, was a high-level Division I coach for nearly a decade and has been an assistant at Duke since 2011. He’s a grown man capable of making decisions and handling criticism. If Coach K truly did this because he didn’t want Capel to have to handle it, he’s treating the guy like a student manager.
The thing is, what Allen did is still unconscionable and people are still going to talk about it. In fact, by only benching the junior for one game, Krzyzewski just ensured it will overshadow anything good this Duke team does on the court. Especially since in his one contest away, the Blue Devils played terribly in a loss to Virginia Tech. This looks like a cynical move in which Krzyzewski was going to keep Allen out until he needed him. After that loss, the team needed him.
Did Allen learn anything? I can’t say. The fact that he didn’t seem to grow at all after the public flogging he took the first two times he tripped someone is really troubling. Especially after seeing the ridiculous tantrum he threw on the bench after being called out for this one.
Some people are wondering why Allen tripping an opponent is such a big deal. Seth Davis had a moronic tweet this afternoon:
Well Seth, when a player displays a troubling and repeated trend of doing something that could injure an opponent, then yes, he deserves a lengthy suspension. Also, I’m not sure anyone out there is saying someone who punches another player should just get one game, but if you say so.
Allen deliberately did something that could have seriously injured an opponent. Then he did it again. Then he did it yet again. That’s unacceptable and he should have faced some serious consequences. Losing his co-captaincy, doing some behind the scenes “punishment” and having a number of conversations with his coach do not count as “consequences.” He deserved at least three games, one for each incident.
As of now the punishment looks toothless and Coach K doesn’t look like a disciplinarian who took a stand. Instead, he looks like a guy enabling a petulant child.