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Grayson Allen’s Duke career closes with a near-miss of an iconic March moment


OMAHA, Neb. — In a career that seems to have lasted an eternity and encompassed a universe of accomplishment and controversy, it’s fitting that the final game of Grayson Allen’s career featured a moment frozen in time.

In the space of a second, history hung in the balance and on a rim. Either Allen had made one of the most iconic shots ever, or he had lost a chance to put Duke in the Final Four.

He missed.

Top-seeded Kansas survived Allen’s shot at the end of regulation and outlasted No. 2 Duke in overtime, 85-81, to win the Midwest Region, clock the Jayhawks’ 15th trip to the Final Four and finish of one of the more interesting careers in recent memory.

Allen was a surprise hit in a national championship winner, an ascendant star, his own worst enemy in a series of bizarre tripping episodes and an elder statesman on a title contender. His career isn’t likely to ever be replicated. It’s been successful, self-destructive and salvaged. He’s been maddening and magnificent. Sometimes in the space of the same 40 minutes.

“He’s one of the outstanding players to have ever played in our program,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

The final chapter played out in a game worthy of the teams and programs it featured. By definition, Duke vs. Kansas in the Elite 8 is a historic happening. Two of the most storied and successful schools to ever do it facing off with the Final Four as the prize is as close to the pinnacle of the sport as it gets when there’s not a national title at stake.

There were 18 lead changes and 11 ties, All-Americans and lottery picks, Coach K and Bill Self. The play wasn’t always pretty, but the game was beautiful.

And perhaps the most polarizing player of the last decade had a shot at solidifying the immortality he may already own.

Twenty-six seconds on the clock. Scoreboard with matching 72s. Season at stake.

Allen crossed over to his right before Kansas’ Malik Newman forced him back left. A hesitation dribble. Allen pushed forward to his left. Rose up off his right foot and measured the shot before releasing. The ball collided with the backboard, carrommed into the rim and spun around, back to the backboard and then once more it danced across the rim.

That’s when time stopped. A country waited to watch history. Two teams awaited their fate. One man saw his legacy, sliding across a small piece of metal in the middle of America.

“It came really close to going in,” Allen said, “and it didn’t.”

It’s as simple and cruel as that. It didn’t go in, and as such, Allen missed out on his One Shining Moment, his spot next to Christian Laettner in tournament lore and a chance at a second national championship.

“To have a chance at winning it and moving on and not being able to do it, it hurts a lot,” Allen said. “But I’m so happy, so happy I made that choice to come here, so happy that they asked me — they asked me to come here and gave me a scholarship.

“I’ve learned so much in my four years here, coming out a completely different person and for the better. And the relationships I’ve built with Coach, the coaches. Some of my teammates who are guys I call my brothers now, those will last for a really long time. And that’s one of the things I’ll cherish. Those don’t go away.”

Duke was the beneficiary of maybe the most famous miss in NCAA tournament history when Gordon Hayward’s oh-so-close heave delivered them the 2010 national championship. Allen’s misfire may not be in that pantheon, but it’s one that will stand the test of time. That missed shot won’t be forgotten. It’ll be remembered not as a scarlet letter, but as a what-if. A tantalizing tease of a moment when history diverged. When the shot looked like it was going in, but didn’t.

The game officially didn’t end there in regulation, but, really, that was the last moment of Grayson Allen’s Duke career. The ball sitting on the rim, his critics and fans both on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what happens.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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.