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After struggles this week and Allen meltdown, what’s up with Duke?

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Duke is probably just fine. The Blue Devils haven’t lost in over a month, winning 10-straight games. Their highly-touted freshmen – Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden and Harry Giles – are are healthy. Luke Kennard is in the national player of the year conversation.

But something doesn’t seem totally right with NBC Sports’ top-ranked team.

The Blue Devils have struggled to get by Tennessee State earlier this week and Elon on Wednesday, Giles and Bolden are seeing minimal minutes and, perhaps most concerning, Grayson Allen had yet another tripping incident, this one followed by as intense a meltdown on the bench that I can remember seeing in some time.

First, let’s discuss Allen’s penchant for tripping dudes. It’s truly amazing for a player of his caliber to continue to keep doing stuff like that. It’s almost as if it’s a defense or coping mechanism for him when he’s frustrated.

The first documented instance came last year against Louisville, immediately after he fell to the ground after missing a layup. Then against Florida State, he was even more malicious when he stuck his foot out behind him to slip up Xavier Rathan-Mayes. The latest came when he got called for a foul in a surprisingly competitive game against Elon.

Yet another boneheaded and dangerous move by Allen, who apologized for it after the game, is troublesome, but his seeming inability to deal with the immediate aftermath is what’s really noteworthy here.

I’m not really sure how to process what’s going on here with Allen, who was NBC Sports’ preseason player of the year. Is he upset with himself? Is he mad at the officials? The situation? Something else? Whatever exactly is going on there, it’s a total and complete loss of emotional control in a very public setting.

Maybe Allen knew what was coming for him the next time he checked his phone or opened up his laptop. My twitter mentions were a mess after simply posting the video, I can’t imagine the type of vitriol that was awaiting Allen, and he’s smart enough to know what vilification was coming.

It’s hard not to feel bad for a college kid being the target of so much anger and dislike, but it’s impossible to forget that most – if not all – of this is Allen’s doing by continuing to act on the basketball court in a way everyone knows not to. “Don’t trip people” isn’t a hard concept to understand or execute.

Mike Krzyzewski sat Allen after the play and to start the second half, but later re-inserted him into the game. I’d guess that’s a pretty strong signal Coach K probably may not entertain suspension talk about Allen, but he should. His words after the game suggested that a suspension is far from a given.

“I handle things the way I handle them,” Krzyzewski said, “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 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.”

If a suspension doesn’t come from Krzyzewski, the ACC should step in. Three instances of this type of behavior warrants sitting a player for a game. At this point it’s hard to argue these are incidental instances and as such, there should be repercussions. It might not be a bad thing for Allen to catch his breath, either.

Whatever the state of Allen’s psyche or footwork, the rest of the Blue Devils aren’t without issues, either.

First off, Giles and Bolden are getting limited run despite being cleared to play. Giles played 4 minutes in his debut Monday and 6 against Elon. Are those low numbers a product of Duke being cautious with him after yet another knee surgery after two ACL tears? Is it something else? Bolden has been back from injury for five games, but hasn’t reached double-digit minutes three times, including the 3 minutes he played this night.

For Duke to be as good as we think they can be, Giles and Bolden need to be contributors. The Blue Devils can be extremely good and maybe even great without them, but they may be invincible with them.

It could be it’s just a late December swoon. Between finals and the holidays, attention to detail can certainly wane for any college team, and few are under the microscope Duke is.

“Everybody, they’re not bought in,” Kennard said. “They’re not all the way consumed in winning. Everybody’s not consumed in just being one.”

That microscope magnifies issues that may indeed be small and stay small, but it also reveals blemishes that sometimes grow into more.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.