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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Grayson Allen Edition

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The Grayson Allen affair has sucked all the oxygen out of college basketball.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation. I’ll be your host for the Morning Quickies today on the eve of Christmas Eve.

The big story today, as it has been since Wednesday night, is not Louisville’s upset of the Kentucky Wildcats, but rather the actions of Duke’s Grayson Allen.

There has been a lot written and said about Allen’s third tripping incident in two years, and most of it is well deserved. The latest news is that coach Mike Krzyzewski has (some might say "Finally!") suspended Allen for conduct unbecoming.

In all honesty, this is one of the more bizarre things I have seen in college basketball, and over the years, we’ve seen a lot. We’ve seen the Christian Laettner Stomp, the Adam Woodbury eye-poke, and Chris Paul’s shots to the pills in college and the NBA. But this obsession Allen seems to have with tripping is… well, in a word, "bizarre."

Krzyzewski’s suspension of Allen comes only under severe public pressure to do so, and if that seems strange to you, remember that Iowa coach Fran McCaffery never did punish Woodbury, insisting every one of those three eye-pokes was an accident. But Iowa is not Duke, and the public pressure to do something, even from former Duke player now analyst Jay Williams, has been extreme.  Krzyzewski is understandably fighting for his player, but has reluctantly capitulated to the necessity of doing something. Consider this exchange with Dan Patrick yesterday:

Patrick: "But it’s three times though."

K: "Tell me you haven’t made a mistake more than three times. … C’mon, Dan, you’ve been doing this a long time. These are human things. Human beings do human things. … You’re being naive about this. You mean somebody doesn’t make mistakes more than three times. That doesn’t mean it’s right. He’s wrong each time. But how does anything happen, Dan? … He understands that it’s wrong."

Krzyzewski’s rationalization here is embarrassingly transparent and dishonest. Tripping people over and over again is not "making a mistake," it is dangerous cheating in violation of competitive and social norms. It is, in a word, aberrant behavior that must not be tolerated.

I’m not going to go too hard on Coach K. College coaches protect their players, and trust me, if this were one of Calipari’s players, he’d protect him as well. Keep in mind that these coaches know their players very well, and they are in the business of protecting them from a rampant media that can often go completely over the top.

Suspension in this case is clearly warranted, and it probably should have been done last year after the second incident. But I hope that we can all appreciate that even this is something that should be forgiven. Allen is a young man, and some reasonable punishment and counseling will hopefully get him back on track. I hope both Duke fans and opponents can behave like adults in this matter, but I know that’s not going to happen. In the era of instant gratification by virtue-signaling, social media stalking and abuse, this will surely be taken to unprecedented levels of outrage and venom. Alas, the world we live in.

So in this season of love and peace, try to find a little in your heart for Grayson Allen. He’ll have no end of opprobrium to go under his Christmas tree, and he earned that, but if we can pardon convicted criminals, we can surely find a little pity and forgiveness in our hearts for a young man behaving foolishly and hope he straightens up and flies right.

Tweet of the Morning

Clyde was very cool, and one of my all-time faves. Back at that time, I was a big fan of the NBA. Not so much, anymore.

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