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What Do We Know Now About The Savarino/Banchero Situation?

A bit more but lots we don’t and probably won’t know.

Duke Countdown To Craziness
DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 15: Michael Savarino #30 of the Duke Blue Devils drives past Trevor Keels #1 during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 15, 2021 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As you surely know by now, duke guard Michael Savarino and forward Paolo Banchero were pulled over early Sunday morning near Efland and Savarino was hit with a DWI charge. Banchero was cited for aiding and abetting.

Since Savarino is under age, he was automatically charged with a DWI and was not on the bench for the Gardner-Webb game Tuesday night.

From the forms the trooper filled out we know that Savarino was pulled over at 3:15 AM and blew a .08. In North Carolina, any underage alcohol detected is an immediate DWI and .08 is where the law kicks in for non-minors.

We also know that Banchero started as usual on Tuesday while Savarino was not with the team and we know that a student manager named Grayson Sherr came to pick the two of them up.

It was Banchero’s car and he was in the back seat and was cited for aiding and abetting a DWI. We understand that charge is typically dismissed but we’ll have to see.

Obviously Coach K was asked about this after the win over the Bulldogs and here’s what he had to say: “We had a violation of our standards, and we’ll handle that internally. We already are handling it, but [it’s] a violation of our standards.”

“It’s two different situations. I mean, two entirely different situations. Headlines might make it look like it’s the same—it’s not. I think the decisions we made are in conjunction with our authorities and my superiors. And we’re taking action, we took action and we will continue to take action.”

We don’t know precisely what he means by different situations other than the obvious: Savarino got hit with a DWI and Banchero did not. There are obviously facts that we don’t know.

People immediately rushed to compare it to the Grayson Allen situation when Allen was suspended indefinitely after his kicking issues and then reinstated after one game.

At the time we thought the key to that situation was something Coach K said in a press conference. He didn’t minimize or make excuses.

Instead he made a very interesting statement that we don't think anyone followed up on. It wasn’t Grayson screwed up, or Grayson’s a good kid who didn’t mean it or anything designed to minimize the situation. Instead it was “I’m responsible for that kid.”

We still don’t know what that meant exactly but there was clearly more going on than any of us knew.

Which leads us to our final point. If you’re at all like us, you’ve paid close attention to how Kryzyzewski runs his team. First he gets kids with generally good character. And second, as he alluded to, the program has standards. There aren’t shortcuts or excuses.

There has always been accountability.

If you believe that’s true, then this is probably also true. However this is handled “internally” is not going to be mollycoddling. Duke has a disciplinary structure that will likely take the lead on whatever happens to Savarino (since Banchero played Tuesday, and also given Coach K’s comments about separate situations, it appears they aren’t very concerned about Banchero’s).

Aside from having to bear the brunt of Coach K’s anger, Savarino is his grandson. Banchero can go to bed and go to class and then to the gym - and then he’ll hear about it.

Savarino? Not a chance. Aside from playing for his grandfather, his mother, Debbie, an assistant Duke AD, is probably not happy either. Mickie Krzyzewski is a wonderful woman too but she’s probably going to have a few things to say to young Michael as well.

People who have less awareness of Duke probably think they’ll just wait until this blows over and from a PR point of view, sure. Okay. Normal institutional behavior, that.

However, if you had to pick one quality to tag the Krzyzewskis with you could do worse than strong-willed. They are wonderful, generous people, deeply decent and compassionate. They’ve given so much to Duke and to Durham.

But they all have an edge to them. Young Savarino is obviously keenly aware of this but right about now he may have a clearer sense of just how strong that edge really is.

His chances of compartmentalizing this as Banchero might are virtually nil. He’s the only player on the team who could be grounded and for all we know he might be.

Wherever he’s sleeping, his punishment is not going to be running the stairs of Cameron until he drops or anything Calhounish like that. His family is going to make sure that he understands the seriousness of this, how fortunate he is that nothing worse happened - and also that his room for error has narrowed immensely.

Anybody who thinks the Krzyzewski family is going to minimize this or sweep it under the rug somehow is nuts. It’ll be anything but that. Yes, it’s being handled internally, but in Savarino’s case that is doubly true. Don’t doubt that he’s paying a major price for this.