Duke Coach Krzyzewski Lifts Grayson Allen Suspension After Just One Game
Coaches are expected to model appropriate behavior. As a leader of young men, Duke head basketball coach Mike Kryzewski, has failed in his duty to lead his team both on and off the court. Kryzewski, the alleged discipline guru, has allowed Grayson Allen to habitually attack opponents by kicking and tripping them, without consequence.
Most recently, the junior guard from Jacksonville, Florida, was caught intentionally tripping Steven Santa Ana from Elon University on December 21, 2016. Following that episode, Kryzewski issued an ‘indefinite suspension’ of Allen. Since the tripping of Santa Ana was the continuance of a pattern dating back to the previous season, most people believed Allen would finally receive the punishment he deserved. Wrong!
Referees stopped play during the games to issue Allen technical fouls or eject him. But Allen’s deterrent for dangerous, inciteful play should not exclusively be calls by referees — it should derive from his head coach — Mike Kryzewski.
The one-game slap on the wrist issued by Kryzewski was cowardly. If Allen were a reserve who logged minimal minutes, Kryzewski would undoubtedly have upheld the suspension for ten games, or worse. But that is not Kryzewski’s reality. Allen leads the team in assists, is second in scoring, and top three in minutes played. His contribution is real, and his absence was felt immediately as Duke lost to Virginia Tech by double digits without him on New Year’s Eve.
Despite this, Allen deserved a legitimate punishment. Why? While wearing that uniform, Allen is a representative of Kryzewski and Duke University. Unless Kryzewski and the university are fine being portrayed as belligerent and prone to violence, Kryzewski has done himself and the university a great disservice.
When a person leverages bad behavior with impunity, they are incentivized to continue the bad behavior. In sports, it is the coach’s responsibility to correct these situations. Sadly for Duke, Kryzewski opted for padding win percentage ahead of the best interest of Allen. For this reason, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA should have intervened and acted like the regulatory body they claim to represent.
Folks who believe it is an overreaction to suspend Allen for his transgressions are not considering the dangers he poses to others on the court. Thus far, none of his victims have sustained serious injury. But it only takes one wrong fall.
Allen is an emotional player, often uncontrollable by coaches, especially during competition. This was evident with his sideline explosion after being ejected for attacking Santa Ana of Elon. Allen is owed guidance from Kryzewski on managing his rage, instead, Kryzewski enables it.