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Grayson’s Situation

Duke’s star needs to grow up, but so do some of his critics.

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Duke v Elon
GREENSBORO, NC - DECEMBER 21: Steven Santa Ana #22 of the Elon Phoenix drives against Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils at the Greensboro Coliseum on December 21, 2016 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Allen was called for a technical foul at the end of this play.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

He didn’t help himself, did he?

Grayson made amends after last season’s poor behavior and generally, we think, won some forgiveness.

That’s harder now.

Even Duke guys like Jason Williams and Jay Bilas called for his suspension.

After the game a clearly distraught Allen sat at his locker and apologized to everyone - the officials, Elon, his teammates: “Well, I’m an emotional player to begin with. I made a really bad play. I’m sorry to him, Santa Ana, sorry to the officials that had to call that, sorry to my team. It was selfish and taking away from them. I’m not proud of it at all.”

For his part, Coach K said this: “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.

“I’m a teacher and a coach and I’m responsible for that kid. I know him better than anybody so to think that this is the last thing said to him about this is wrong.

“Obviously we will do more...doesn’t mean you have to see it or anybody else has to see it...what he did tonight was right. That’s what people do. They say they’re sorry and they accept responsibility and they want to make sure that the other party knows that.

“And anyone else who wants to take shots about anything else about Duke or me or whatever...go for it. Because that’s territory I’m comfortable with. I’m comfortable with that because we take it. We take it.”

He also said that he and Grayson met with Elon’s coach Matt Matheney and the player, Stephen Santa Anna, and made personal amends. So the people directly involved are okay with it now. They resolved their own issues.

There are two interesting points in this, one obvious and one not. One suggests the other however.

The first is that Coach K is fully prepared to deal with whatever BS comes at Duke for being Duke. Allen's kicks were all bad moves, all three, but it has gotten far more attention than Chris Paul got when he was cheap shotting ACC players in the nuts (NBA players too, for that matter). And Iowa’s Adam Woodberry poked Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Melo Trimble in the eyes not too long ago.

Barely made a ripple. We’re willing to bet most of you don't remember or never even knew. He poked guys in the eyes.


For that matter, his college coach, Fran McCaffrey, seems to have a problem with anger which barely gets attention.

So that this happened at Duke makes it bigger and feeds the haters. On this point, we think, Krzyzewski is right. The reaction will be totally out of proportion to what happened. He’s not going to feed into it and that’s understandable. He wants to protect his player who, he believes, is a fundamentally good kid.

The other, less obvious point is that while Grayson has had a problem with his anger, he also publicly humiliated himself.

There’s no point at all in Krzyzewski making that worse. He might have decided to bench him (Williams was surprised he didn’t), but we think there’s more to it than that.

Punishment or corrective actions - not necessarily the same things - will come, but not publicly. Coach K is not going to feed his player to the mob.

As we said in our game review, no one can fully understand self-destructive behavior in others, but it’s clear that Grayson has an issue he needs to come to grips with. Humiliating him further might help the coach puff himself up, might appease the mob, but it won’t do much for the underlying problem.

It won’t make everyone happy, but odds are what it mostly requires is quiet reflection and consideration of how one deals with emotions and other people who piss you off.

Ritualized humiliation is not the answer to a lack of emotional control. Grayson is on TV all the time and he’s famous but he’s also still quite young. The worst of him is out there now too. Like Christian Laettner, he’ll never escape his youth.

We know judgments are flying but we hope people will remember his youth and see that he is struggling to mature emotionally, and doing it on a big stage. He has time to make himself a better man.

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