Grayson Allen deserves the scorn, but also the pity, empathy

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Before I say anything else, let me just state the obvious: Grayson Allen needs to be suspended.

After he intentionally tripped Elon’s Steven Santa Ana on Wednesday night, the third time in the 2016 calendar year that Allen has intentionally tripped an opponent, there is no option here.

He needs to be suspended. He needs to miss basketball games. He was let off with a reprimand and warning after the second incident last season, when he stuck his right leg out to trip Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes just 17 days after he used that same heel to send Louisville’s Ray Spalding sprawling, and unless the ACC follows up a reprimand with a REPRIMAND WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS TO SHOW THEY MEAN BUSINESS, the league has only one choice.

Even if head coach Mike Krzyzewski is against it.

Which he is, of course.

(UPDATE, 9:00 a.m.: Duke has announced that Grayson Allen is suspended indefinitely from competition.)

“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,” Krzyzewski told reporters after the game. “I don’t need to satisfy what other people think that I should do.”

“I’m a teacher and a coach, and I’m responsible for that kid. 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.”

If K is “a teacher and a coach,” and he’s “responsible for that kid,” then he would not be accepting the responsibility that comes with that job if he were to pass the onus for the suspension onto the ACC.

“Grayson apologized, and he should,” Krzyzewski said. After the game, Santa Ana and Allen met, with Allen apologizing and the two reportedly shaking hands and ending things amicably. Allen was also in tears as he apologized to the media congregated at Greensboro Coliseum. “It’s not something you should do, and he got punished.”

Did he?

That’s where this thing has nuance.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on against the Florida Gators in the second half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Grayson Allen (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Because Allen didn’t really get punished. He was pulled from the game late in the first half for the trip, and he was benched for the start of the second half. But he got back into the game. He played quite a few second half minutes, which may have been due to the fact that Duke actually found themselves in a fight against an inferior opponent for the second time in three days. So is it really a punishment if you need to use the guy to help secure a win?

Put another way, pulling someone from the starting lineup is a perfectly valid punishment for a player that is five minutes late to a film session or a kid that skips a history class, not a player that intentionally tripped an opponent for the third time.

There needs to be a suspension. If a traffic cop catches you speeding after he lets you off with a warning, you’re getting a ticket. Allen needs to sit for at least Duke’s ACC opener against Virginia Tech, and if Coach K won’t be the one to do it, the ACC and commissioner John Swofford have to be.

Having said that, there is no punishment that Duke or Coach K or the ACC could hand down that would make Allen feel worse about what happened than he already does. Did you see his reaction on the bench? Did you see him crying in front of the cameras in the locker room? He knows what he did was wrong, he knows what will be waiting for him online and on TV tomorrow, and he knows that he brought all of this on himself.

Again.

Allen grew up a Duke basketball fan in an area of Florida that is full-blooded SEC football. He committed to Duke as soon as he got an offer from the Blue Devils. He went to Duke because it was his dream school and he returned to Duke as a junior because he wanted to have a legacy; as a Duke graduate, as a two-time national champion, as a National Player of the Year.

And he will leave Duke with a legacy: a tripper, a dirty player, a cheap-shot artist. That’s what he is now going to be remembered for. Christian Laetter, J.J. Redick, Grayson Allen. There’s no way around it, but the difference is that Allen isn’t wired like those two. He’s not a guy that relishes being Public Enemy No. 1. He doesn’t want to be the villain. He wants to be liked. He’d be happier hooping anonymously. This might be too much to come back from.

But that fantasy is out the window.

Allen will have earned every bit of scorn, derision and contempt he gets over the coming days and weeks. He may even deserve it; knowing what he went through last year, I cannot imagine how or why he let this happened again, and there’s nothing to say to defend it.

But just because Allen was in the wrong doesn’t mean I have to enjoy watching him go through what he’s been through and what he’s about to go through.

And that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy for a person that is coming to grips with the reality that he just set his dreams on fire.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on against the Florida Gators in the second half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Grayson Allen (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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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.