The Duke Blue Devils have had talented teams each and every season, but this team this year was supposed to be special. They one of the top recruiting classes in the country, with guys like Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles, and they were returning one of the top players in the country in Grayson Allen. The talented guard from Florida got a chance to step out of the shadows of previous players like Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow to become one of the focal points of the Duke team. But along with becoming that focal point, he became known for something that was not exactly a good thing. Allen tripped two players last season in what were deemed purposeful acts. And if anyone saw it, then you can tell that both acts that were done last season were done purposely. In the first instance, there was not much made out of both situations and Allen wasn't really punished. And coming into this year, those tripping incidents were something that most had forgotten about. But when the Blue Devils played Elon, that tripping reared its ugly head again. The junior guard tripped an Elon player on purpose and then proceeded to have a breakdown on the bench. At that point, many wondered what would happen next and how Coach K responded. Well, Coach K responded with an indefinite suspension of Allen. But apparently the word indefinite has another meaning in Durham, North Carolina.
The "indefinite" suspension only lasted for one game for Allen. And although he was stripped of his captaincy while on his suspension, he was back playing Wednesday night as the Blue Devils blew out Georgia Tech. The blowout was nice for Duke and its fans, but it is still not understandable why Allen was playing. And while Coach K probably has some interesting explanation for us, the optical illusion that he just pulled was probably more telling than any speech he can give us. Coach K is a great coach in regards to things he does on the court with his teams. He gets all his players to buy in and improves the team as the season goes on. But the myth that he is some great moral coach needs to stop. Coach K likes to win games and that is what he gets paid for. And in allowing Grayson Allen to play after one game, it was evident that he valued winning over teaching a life lesson here. Before this game against the Yellow Jackets, the Blue Devils went to Virginia Tech and lost. The team was noticeably not the same and they missed Allen. The team needed him on the court to win games and be better. But in putting him back out there after an indefinite one-game suspension was not the correct thing to do. One game really isn't enough to teach him a lesson in my opinion. There may have been things done behind the scenes as well with Allen, but this kid needs some help and not court time.
Coach K will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all-time. But he is not the perfect coach that many paint him as. I know everyone remembers last year when he lied about saying something to Oregon's Dillon Brooks last season after his three-point shot that was uncalled for in Coach K's estimation (although it really was something that did not need to be lied about to begin with). And now with this instance, he is creating the illusion that he punished Allen. What it appears is like what he said on Sports Center this morning: he wanted to make sure to get things back on course. Coach K is going to be out a while after he has back surgery on Friday and he said that he postponed his back surgery to make sure things were right before he left the bench for at least four weeks. And in doing that, he put Allen back on the court to help his team rather than continuing to teach a lesson that was needed. He is a great coach, but painting him as the saint of coaching needs to stop. He is just a coach that loves to win just like the next coach does. And he does what he has to do to make it happen whether we like it or not.