If somebody asks if Duke’s Grayson Allen is a dirty player, that’s not a legitimate question. Of course, Allen is dirty. The question is, how dirty?
It was amusing to watch people scramble to defend Allen after he stuck his butt out and knocked down North Carolina forward Garrison Brooks in an ACC men’s basketball tournament semifinal. Officials were not among them. They called Allen, appropriately, for a flagrant 1 foul.
During an interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Charles Barkley defended Allen. And I love Barkley, despite the Selection Sunday Show. A lot of people want to be liked by Krzyzewski.
Allen, a senior guard, has a history of tripping opponents. If you’re on a court with Allen, the safest place to be is facing him. If you beat him, he might inadvertently stick out his foot, again, and trip you.
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I’m not a Tar Heel forever guy. I have un-Tar Heel forever guy cred. I’ve never bought into the Duke as villains theory. Look at the names of Blue Devils alleged villains past – Steve Wojciechowski, J.J. Redick, Greg Paulus, Christian Laettner. I never thought Wojciechowski, Redick or Paulus were bad guys.
Allen averages 15.7 points, second highest in his four seasons with the Blue Devils, and 1.7 assists, his best. He shoots 42.9 percent from the field and 37.7 percent on 3-pointers.
Two legitimate questions: Would Grayson Allen be as dirty if his first name conveyed less entitlement and he was Ralph or Stan or Ed? And what would other elite coaches do with him?
What would Villanova’s Jay Wright, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo do with Allen? Would they bench him? Lecture him? Ground him?
Would they tell him he can’t play unless he keeps his butt and feet to himself?
Krzyzewski suspended Allen in 2016 after a blatant trip of Elon guard Steven Santa Ana, who had beaten Allen with a spin move. That followed Allen’s tripping episodes against Florida State and Louisville.
After the Santa Ana trip, Krzyzewski suspended Allen for one game. If he hadn’t, the ACC would have suspended Allen, perhaps for more than a game.
Allen is 6-5, comfortable with the ball, and works hard to defend. Even with the star freshmen on the roster, he’s willing to take tough shots.
But the toughest shots he takes are at opponents when they’re looking the other way.