BROWN’S SPORTS NOTES: Allen might need help beyond Coach K

Is Grayson Allen a thug? A punk? A jerk? A good basketball player? He may be all of those things, but one thing he certainly is, is suspended indefinitely.
That’s because for the third time in two years he used his feet instead of his hands to have an impact on a Duke basketball game. This time, the 6-5 junior guard from Jacksonville, Florida, swept the leg of an Elon (Yes, Elon) player who had beat him to the basket off the dribble.

Allen was called for the foul before Steven Santa Ana (what a cool last name) attempted the shot. Allen — apparently displeased with the foul call or the fact that he couldn’t stop the war chief from raiding the paint — spun and drove his right foot into the curved knee of Santa Ana. It looked like a sweeping kick and was the least subtle of his three tripping incidents thus far. If he has another, I fully expect to see crane style at center court. (Mr. Miyagi would be pleased, but Coach K, not so much.)
Duke’s hall of fame men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, said after the game Allen’s actions were unacceptable. (I guess he didn’t see a pattern prior to the Elon sweep. In fairness, the other incidents were easier to excuse or ignore.) Beyond the kick, Allen also bugged out on the bench, visibly upset about something. Was he upset about his irrational action? Was he upset about the technical called on him because of the clip? (He raised his hand toward the official after the call, seeming to ask, “What did I do?”)
What seemed obvious through the whole thing is that Grayson Allen has anger management issues. Whether he is a thug, punk, or jerk, he needs to control his response to when things do not go his way. We’ll see whether he learns from the suspension. Allen apologized to Santa Ana in person after the game, which was big of him. It’s a step in the correct direction.
There is the sense that Coach K finally reprimanded his star guard only because Allen isn’t as critical to the Blue Devils’ success this season as he was last year. That may be unfair, but the timing lends to the criticism. The suspension criticism couples with the hypocrisy of K admonishing Oregon player Dillon Brooks last year when Brooks shot a 3 that went in at the buzzer of his team’s shellacking of Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Krzyzewski told Brooks, “You’re too good of a player to do that. You’re too good of a player.”
Coach K later apologized for what he said to Brooks and to Oregon Coach Dana Altman. “It is not my place to talk to another team’s player …,” he said later in a prepared statement. Of course, many responded then that K should focus on his own house and his hot-headed guard instead of another team’s player.
The larger picture also is that Coach K had a blistering response in the post-game press conference last March when asked about the exchange with Brooks. In his prepared statement, he also said, “In the postgame press conference, I reacted incorrectly to a reporter’s question about my comment to Dillon.”
Last week on the Dan Patrick Show, Krzyzewski was defensive when asked by the host how Grayson Allen explains the tripping. “Well, how do you explain any mistake you make?”

Patrick came with the obvious follow up and said it has happened three times.
“But tell me you haven’t made a mistake more than three times,” Coach K responded. The next two minutes of the interview were an exercise in obfuscation. Or ignorance. Or ignoring the question.
OK. Lots of folks make lots of mistakes and sometimes they make the same mistake more than once. Allen, though, seems to have real issues with maintaining his composure in competitive situations. His coach seems to have a real issue with being challenged, especially when it comes to how he manages his players. That’s not a good mixture.
We shall see if Coach K’s method for dealing with Allen works. For his player, hopefully it does so. He may need help, though, beyond what Krzyzewski can provide personally.

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