Should Grayson Allen Have Returned Already?


Duke guard Grayson Allen returned Wednesday night after an “indefinite suspension” of just one game. The junior was suspended after tripping Elon’s Steven Santa Ana just under two weeks ago.

The trip was Allen’s third incident of a similar manner and led to the tirade on the bench that drew even more negative attention to Coach K’s most experienced contributor. Every college basketball analyst on the planet immediately jumped at the chance to weigh in on the severity of his punishment, ranging from no suspension to a five or even ten game ban.

Originally after the game a heated Krzyzewksi said there was going to be no penalty issued to Allen, that he had spoken to him and that the matter was over. Allen had his tearful press conference at his locker and drew some sympathy and it seemed the matter was indeed over as Coach K said. That was why it came as such a shock a day later when it was announced Allen would be suspended “indefinitely.”

Krzyzewski stated, “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.”

To make matters worse for Duke fans and to take some of the heat off of the suspension, it was announced that Krzyzewski would require a back surgery, scheduled to happen this Friday, that would cause him to miss four weeks. Just a quick reminder, all of that happened over the span of five days.

But back to Allen, who was officially suspended from the team on December 22, which seems like a long time ago, but in reality was just that one game, a loss to Virginia Tech.

The use of the word indefinitely was very sneaky from the Duke bench boss because as it turns out, Allen’s suspension was for an indefinite amount of time, by definition of the word. But how could someone who did not “meet the standards of Duke Basketball,” which correct me if I’m wrong gives off the implication of zero tolerance, be suspended for a single game?

Just two years ago Coach K dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon, a star guard on the team. After the dismissal, Duke released a statement saying, “Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program. It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner. After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program.”

Now I understand that the two circumstances were completely different, but when you throw around big words such as “Not meeting Duke standards,” how can one lead to dismissal and the other to just a one game suspension?

Forget whether you think suspending Allen at all was right or wrong. Why would Duke bring him back after just one game knowing that it would incite serious scrutiny against both Krzyzewski and the program?

Duke did lose that only Graysonless game to a very good Virginia Tech team by 14 points. But then they had Georgia Tech, who they beat by 50 Wednesday night, and Boston College on their schedule before playing anybody who would threaten them. They do travel to #12 Florida State and #9 Louisville next week in back-to-back games.

It would have probably been a pretty bad look for the Blue Devils to bring back Allen after the Boston College game and right before the huge matchup with Florida State, but not nearly as bad as after just one game.

Allen is definitely Duke’s leader and the heart and soul of the team so it makes sense that they’d want him on the floor during Coach K’s recovery period. But Duke is a talented enough team without him that could have easily survived a few more games.

And if they would have lost to Florida State and brought him back for the Louisville game, which would have meant a four game suspension, then so be it, since the team believed he deserved to be suspended anyway.

Duke should have announced the suspension as a “(fill in amount here)-game suspension” and avoided all of the controversy that they brought on themselves.

Instead, they are a team that is used to being the villain and it appears that for at least one more time in Coach K’s career, he didn’t mind embracing that role.

Scott Zolotorow