Coach K gets tripped up by star guard

For those of us who love to hate Duke, hating got a lot easier this season.

The madness of college basketball fell early this year, much obliged to the antics of Duke’s junior guard Grayson Allen.

Allen continuously makes headlines for barbaric, intentional collisions with opponents, on and off the court. Meanwhile, coach Krzyzewski silently sits back on the sidelines, unencumbered as his star player lies in shambles, troubled by superfluous disciplinary issues.

The stale, aggressive habit kicked off against Louisville last season when Allen fell after a missed layup and tripped a player while he lie helpless on the court. Incident No. 2 came later in the season against Florida State, and was more subtle, but nonetheless inexcusable. Allen was reprimanded by the ACC, but not suspended.

After several similar incidents this season, it has become glaringly obvious these trips are deliberate. In a game against Elon University last month, Allen hooked Elon’s Steven Santa Ana with his leg while defending on the baseline, resulting in a technical foul and an old fashioned screaming, hands flying tantrum on the bench by Allen.  

Following the game, Coach K put a long overdue foot down.

“We have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the incident involving Grayson from last night’s game against Elon,” Krzyzewski said in a statement the following morning. “As I stated last night, the incident was unacceptable and inexcusable…As a program, we needed to take further steps regarding his actions that do not meet the standards of Duke Basketball. To that end, we have determined that Grayson will be suspended from competition for an indefinite amount of time.”

Krzyzewski’s statement rang like music to my ears…until the “indefinite amount of time” lasted one whole game. I sat in timeout as a kid for hitting my sister longer than Allen sat out for deliberate trips.

The serial tripper’s succinct suspension lasted less than two weeks when Allen returned to the starting lineup against Georgia Tech on Jan. 4, conveniently Coach K’s final game before undergoing back surgery.

Krzyzewski is undeniably one of the best coaches to ever grace the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He began coaching at Duke in 1980 and since holds a polished 984-266 record and five national championships.

A coach so many players, fellow coaches and spectators put on a pedestal now comes off as spineless.

The one game suspension for the Duke superstar leaves the perception minimal consequences are to pay when you’re the prized guard who delivered 16 points in the last seven minutes of the NCAA championship as a freshman and average 15.7 points and 4.3 assists a game.

Coach K must know this message won’t get Allen’s attention. What kind of example does that set for his teammates and future recruits? Caving after one game, and doing it without publicly discussing it?

The 6-foot-5, 202 pound guard clearly has a problem. Between the emotion, tear-filled meltdown on the bench after getting a technical foul for tripping the Elon player to the post-game interview where he apologized through a cracked voice, it can be seen Allen is upset with himself.

With a chance to make a larger statement about what he won’t put up with, Krzyzewski instead made a statement about exactly what he will tolerate from a serial tripper. Coach K should have seeked a professional after the first few incidents to analyze why Allen can’t control his habits. Instead, Krzyzewski let Allen continue to play unreprimanded for weeks while the problem escalated, ultimately embarrassing himself, Allen and the Duke name.

A coach’s job is to mentor their players. To turn boys into men. Teach them discipline and respect. Sometimes even go as far as act as a father figure.

Coach K is a family man and hall of famer. An incredible coach who brought the United States home three gold medals in the Olympics. Why did he let Allen’s actions escalate to the degree they did? Krzyzewski’s job now isn’t to teach Allen a lesson — chants from fans at away games and harsh comments on social media got that down pact. Rather, to help the young star gain the proper perspective from outside help.

The kid has talent. It’s foolish to allow Allen’s temper to come between his shot at the big leagues or being remembered as a serial tripper.



Sophia Belletti. Photo by Julie TrippSophia Belletti
Sophia is a junior journalism major pursuing a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports, and hopes to one day be a sports reporter covering soccer, basketball and/or baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes.
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