Grayson Allen’s ‘Indefinite’ Suspension Turns Out to Be One Game

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At Duke, “indefinitely” apparently means “one game.”

Grayson Allen, the basketball team’s star guard, was suspended indefinitely after tripping an opponent who was driving to the basket in a game against Elon on Dec. 21. It was his third offense, after tripping players from Louisville and Florida State last season.

After the most recent trip, for which he received a technical foul, Allen threw a fit on the sideline, pounding his fist and shouting. Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the suspension the next day, and Allen was later stripped of his team captaincy.

Grayson Allen Trip (Tripping Technical Foul)

Video by John MacKay

Allen sat out a game at Virginia Tech on New Year’s Eve, Duke’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener. Duke lost, 89-75. It was only Duke’s second loss of the season.

Allen’s suspension was duly ended, and he returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night against Georgia Tech. He scored 15 points and had a game-leading seven assists as Duke romped, 110-57.

“I think it’s appropriate, and I think the things that we’ve done are appropriate,” Krzyzewski told ESPN. “There are things that you see or the public see, and there are things that you all don’t see and shouldn’t see or shouldn’t be talked about, and they’re called teachings. You don’t need to teach out in the public all the time.”

Allen told The Associated Press after the game: “He ultimately felt that I was ready to come back, and I felt good coming back. And so I accept all the discipline that came my way, and I know that it was my fault.”

The reaction from most non-Duke fans to Allen’s quick return was uniformly negative. Fox Sports ran a commentary with the headline “What a Joke!”

Even Dick Vitale, who often sides with well-known coaches, said he was surprised by the quick return.

Duke, of course, was under no obligation to suspend Allen at all, and there was no clear precedent violated by the team. Certainly, general antipathy toward Duke contributed to the reaction.

Allen is part of a long line of Duke players hated by college basketball fans. Christian Laettner, J. J. Redick, Shane Battier and others have worn that mantle over the years. Last month, Sports on Earth rated Allen the most hated of them all.

Allen, a junior from Jacksonville, Fla., has also gotten attention for looking like the former presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Or maybe the cartoon character Doug, or George McFly from the “Back to the Future” films.

Whoever he looks like, Allen is a crucial part of the team, scoring 16 points a game and leading Duke in assists.

His leadership will be vital in the days ahead as the team plays through the tough A.C.C. instead of against teams like Marist, Grand Canyon University and Appalachian State. And it will do so without Krzyzewski for up to a month. The coach will have lower back surgery this week and take a leave of absence. His assistant Jeff Capel will fill in.

Krzyzewski did not make the N.C.A.A. tournament in his first three seasons at Duke. But since then, he has done so in 32 of 33 seasons and won five national championships. The only season in that run in which Duke missed the tournament was 1994-95, when Krzyzewski missed the bulk of the season with back problems.

Duke, now 13-2, is No. 8 in the Associated Press poll and No. 6 in Jeff Sagarin’s computer ranking. Even without Krzyzewski for a time, the Blue Devils look to be contenders again. It seems clear, though, that they need Allen. It also seems clear that he will be playing.

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