Mike Krzyzewski deserves as much heat as Grayson Allen after latest tripping fiasco
Coach K should suspend Grayson Allen immediately, instead of waiting for ACC to do it for him
UPDATE: Grayson Allen has been indefinitely suspended by Duke. The column below was written in response to Mike Krzyzewski's press conference and comments made prior to Allen's suspension.
Mike Krzyzewski looked annoyed, embarrassed, a little rattled and very defensive Wednesday night.
He deserved all of that.
Grayson Allen's latest tripping incident set college basketball aflame, garnering enough attention, trending Twitter traffic and Internet search to overshadow the best game of the week and an amazing finish in the sport's fiercest rivalry, Kentucky-Louisville.
But this is Duke and Grayson Allen, so people will pounce at any moment to feast on their hatred and lick the bone dry.
The latest outcry is warranted. Needed. Krzyzewski hasn't gotten the message. Maybe he finally will. Or maybe his commissioner will have to do the thing, as of Wednesday night, the coach still is unwilling to do.
Krzyzewski's postgame comments indicate he will not be browbeaten into punishing his star player, and the hubristic quotes aren't sitting well with most who don't cheer for Coach K's program.
Allen's trip was an awful look. Bad for him, terrible for Duke and something college basketball does not need at all. Get this junk out of the game permanently, Grayson.
Grayson Allen out here kicking people Draymond Green style. pic.twitter.com/Qtbp6Slk6v— Kyle Boone (@kylebooneCBS) December 21, 2016
I'm still shocked he did this so egregiously. Allen understands the reputation built on his history but still couldn't help himself. This is a concentrated act. He should have never gone back in the game. But he did. He played 21 minutes, plenty after halftime.
The obvious: Allen is a repeat offender, and he needs to be sat for at least a game. A multi-game suspension is entirely reasonable, though not if you're talking to Krzyzewski.
Instead of taking the opportunity in the postgame to properly frame the incident and allow himself to be humbled with a teaching moment, Krzyzewski instead turned his embarrassment back at his critics and reminded people he won't be forced into discipline by public opinion or pressure. He admitted Allen's actions were "unacceptable," but then covered for Allen by saying, "I thought our whole team lost our composure," in the first half.
No. Just Allen.
Give Krzyzewski credit for doing the bare minimum. This was good: An appropriate scene after the game, when Elon's Steven Santa Ana got an in-person apology from Allen. The coaches were in the room as well. Krzyzewski prompted the assembly. Santa Ana and Allen shook hands and ended things amicably, as they should have.
"Grayson apologized, and he should," Krzyzewski said. "That was ... it's not something you should do, and he got punished."
OK, so hold up. Got punished? No he didn't.
Allen sat for less than four minutes of the start of the second half. That's not punishment. That's a breather.
Krzyzewski called Allen's trip "unacceptable" and "inexcusable" but made himself into a hypocrite in the process by choosing not to sit Allen for the second half and continuing to accept the action by refusing to invoke a punishment after the game.
Allen has three significant incidents, and has been disciplined by his legendary coach for none. Krzyzewski should have gone to the dais, made a complete apology on behalf of his player and his program and announced disciplinary action was coming. He stopped well short of that.
"When you write a bad article, I would just expect you to call me and apologize, but you've never done that," Krzyzewski half-joked with a reporter, then continued. "I handle things the way I handle them, and I think I've handled this correctly, and moving forward I will continue to handle it correctly, and I don't need to satisfy what other people think that I should do. And I'm a teacher and a coach, and I'm responsible for that kid. So I know him better than anybody. So to think that it's the last thing said about this to him is wrong. Obviously we will do more. Doesn't mean you have to see it, or anybody else has to see it, but what he did tonight was right. That's what people do. They say they're sorry. They accept responsibility. They want to make sure that the other party knows that. Anyone else who wants to take shots about anything else -- about Duke and me or whatever -- go for it. Go for it. Because that's territory that I'm comfortable with."
This is not a good look for Krzyzewski. In trying to get his message across about knowing his player best, he also puts on an air of superiority. The last time Krzyzewski was this defensive in a postgame news conference, he wound up having to backtrack and apologize after video caught him admonishing Oregon's Dillon Brooks after the Ducks bounced Duke in the last season's NCAA Tournament.
Krzyzewski's reputation isn't hanging in the balance, but he's inviting more shots and is obviously going to take them with a simper smile. Saying you're going to do more behind closed doors is too vague and merely more fodder for Duke haters. Allen will carry his actions with him for the remainder of his college career.
To Allen's credit, he was extremely remorseful in the locker room afterward. He met with the media, made widespread apologies and was reportedly crying.
That doesn't cover for anything and everything, though. Krzyzewski shouldn't pass on this opportunity. He shouldn't put the onus on his conference and its commissioner, John Swofford, to make a decision. Because Allen is going to be suspended. That is clear. The act is too egregious, he's a repeat offender and Duke doesn't play again for a week and a half. It would be a stunning upset if he's on the floor for the Devils' ACC opener at Virginia Tech on New Year's Eve.
Krzyzewski could have made himself more reflective of the values he referenced if he didn't try to twist this into a you-don't-decide-what-I-do lecture directed at the media.
"He's a good kid," he said. "That's a bad thing he did tonight."
If it's as simple as that, Krzyzewski could have taken responsibility the way he asked his player to. Instead, he put off making a respectable statement and doing something I could easily picture Bill Self, Roy Williams or John Calipari doing. The headlines will carry over into Thursday morning, and all anyone will want to talk about is Allen still tripping people and Krzyzewski refusing to suspend his star.
"They accept responsibility."
Those are Krzyzewski's words about Allen. And he is responsible for Allen. This could have been ended last season with a warranted suspension. Instead, here's another incident, a national headline and another call for action. If Krzyzewski can't bring himself to do it in the form of game suspension, those in the ACC office will have to do it for him.
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