Tag Archives: Grayson Allen

Virginia’s Win over Duke is a Big Win for College Basketball

The scoreboard in Durham read:

Virginia 65

Duke      63

But the bigger story was this:

Real College Basketball – 1

NBA Minor League – 0

The University of Virginia scored a big win for college basketball on Saturday. Virginia, notched an improbable, but not shocking win against the NBA’s minor league franchise-in-residence at Durham, otherwise known as the Duke Blue Devils.

Let’s be clear about one irrefutable truth – Duke has the most talent of any team in college basketball. I am not sure there is a close second. Kentucky maybe, but no other team has the wealth of talent that a Coach K has assembled at Duke. Duke has multiple NBA lottery draft picks on their roster. So how did UVa, who has zero NBA lottery draft picks on their roster, beat Duke at Cameron Indoor?

I am not sure it’s that hard to understand. Virginia is a tightly knit team of college basketball players who are completely vested and committed to the University of Virginia and the success of UVa basketball. Duke is a confederation of future NBA basketball players, none of whom give two rips about Duke, Durham, or college basketball unless it impacts their route to the NBA. In real world terms, the Virginia players are home owners with a vested interest in the success of their program. Duke’s players are renters, looking to move out as soon as they can. Which one of those is better for the long term prospects of the neighborhood? Which is better for college basketball?

I was awed by some of the jaw-dropping plays Duke made on Saturday. They are an impressive collection of massively talented basketball players. To their credit, the Duke one-and-dones seem like good kids in addition to being ridiculously talented athletes. They are not dirty cheap-shot artists, like Grayson Allen. They are not foul-mouthed cry babies…like Greyson Allen. The fab Freshmen at Duke have not emulated Grayson Allen, primarily because they don’t care about Grayson Allen or anything else about Duke basketball…and that’s why Virginia won on Saturday.

I think the one-and-done kids play hard. I think they would much rather win than lose. I am sure they work hard in practice. However, there is no doubt that the success of Duke basketball is not at the top of their list of priorities. Duke is a holding bin, a way station on the way to the NBA for all of Duke’s contributing players. While I am sure they like Duke and respect Coach K, if VCU could convince these kids that VCU was a better conduit to the NBA than Duke, there is no question these kids would punt the Devils and embrace the Rams. This is why Duke lost today. This is also why Duke lost to Boston College and NC State. When your NBA highlight reel is your highest priority, winning is nice, but it’s not the ultimate goal.

By contrast, Virginia’s players are fully vested in their university, their coach, and their program. Several of Virginia’s players will certainly have professional basketball careers and one or two might have long careers in the NBA. However none of Virginia’s starting 5 will be NBA lottery picks, but they will all be Virginia basketball legends and adored by Virginia fans for the rest of their lives.

There is no question that Virginia’s players love UVa. They love their coach. They love Charlottesville. By the time they graduate they will have spent 4 or more of their most formative years immersed in the culture of UVa, Charlottesville, and the Virginia basketball program. They are part of the fabric of UVa. They bleed for UVa. Duke’s current crop of fab-freshmen will spend the obligatory 8 months in Durham before moving on to the NBA. While I am sure they would like to win the ACC championship and the NCAA tournament, the Virginia players would given their first born to bring championships home to Charlottesville. That’s why the Bad News Bears won today. It is why Virginia will remain relevant on the national stage as long as Tony Bennett is leading the program.

I have no illusions that Virginia is the favorite to win the NCAA tournament this year.  I will be thrilled if they can win the ACC regular season. It is a long road ahead and Virginia has to clear many high hurdles to win the ACC much less win the NCAA championship. By the time March rolls around, less talented legs are tired and the Duke thoroughbreds might be in a better physical condition to make a tournament run. However, if the winner of the Big Dance comes down to heart and determination, a real college team like Virginia will be tough to beat and fab-freshmen can move on to the NBA, making room for next year’s mercenaries.

Grayson Allen is Trippin’ (Again)

If you were watching Duke beat Elon last night, or if you turned on Sports Center in the last day, you will see Grayson Allen decided it was a wise decision to trip Elon’s Steven Santa Ana. This is the third time Allen has tripped an opposing player in the last year and it has since been announced that Allen will be suspended indefinitely. This is a change of pace as he was not suspended the first two times he tripped an opposing player.

Grayson Allen is a damn good basketball player and he is the face of one of the best programs in the country. He also needs help. Allen showed last night that he clearly has a hard time dealing with the stress of competition. After he was assessed a technical foul for the trip and was consequently benched, Allen threw a temper tantrum on the bench as if he was a toddler and his favorite toy was taken away.  Then after the game he proceeded to break down and cry through his whole media session. This behavior is what is expected of a 12-year-old playing 6th grade basketball and dealing with having a bad game for the first time. It should not be the behavior of one of the top 20 college basketball players in the country.

Allen was suspended indefinitely by Duke and most would assume this will be a few games until they play a good team.( See #21 Florida State Jan 10) I think Allen needs to be out for a way longer period. This tripping incident is a symptom of a bigger issue and Allen needs to get his head on straight before he seriously injures someone or has an episode like this off the basketball court.

Allen is not the only one that is to blame. Coach K and the Duke basketball staff are also at fault. Forget for a second he has done this twice before in a game. He has to have acted out like this in practice before. There is a behavior pattern with Allen and it looks like whatever, if anything, was done to prevent the behavior is not working. For whatever reason, winning was put ahead of discipline and respect for the game. Allen was not reprimanded enough the first two times he behaved this way and the person who is hurt the most is Allen.

Don’t worry about Duke. They have a roster loaded with talent and could probably win a national title without Allen. That doesn’t change the fact that Allen needs to get himself under control. If he doesn’t, there will be a headline with his name in it, but it will be for something far worse than tripping.

 

Photo Via Wikipedia

Good For College Basketball: Grayson Allen Returning to Duke

As the Villanova Wildcats cut down the nets in Houston for their first NCAA Men’s Basketball championship since 1985, a number of college basketball pundits reflected on the season in a negative light. While this college basketball season did not feature a team nearly as dominant as last year’s Kentucky team, the balance throughout the tournament field presented the opportunity for a tremendous tournament. However, with the exception the first few days of days, and the national championship game, close contests were few and far between. This raises the question that some pundits have raised; has college basketball lost some of its appeal?

While lifelong college basketball fans will always hold the tournament near and dear to their hearts, the casual sports fan might hold a different opinion regarding the Big Dance. One significant reason this might be case is the increased number of “one and dones” that elect to leave college after one season in hopes of capitalizing on a lifelong NBA dream. Despite a number of these players being ready for NBA play at younger ages, this trend has had an extremely negative impact on the college game. A greater emphasis has been put on recruiting, with player development being placed on the backburner, as the nation’s best young players all have one eye on the NBA before stepping foot onto a college campus.

As the number of one and dones continues to rise each and every year, one player from Duke University went against the grain by announcing that he will be returning to Duke for his third season of college basketball.

Grayson Allen became a household name for fans of college basketball after surprising the Wisconsin Badgers with 16 points of the bench in last year’s National Championship game en route to Duke’s fifth championship in school history. While the Blue Devils were burned by the departures of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones, Allen was able to assert his dominance this season, leading Duke in scoring, assists, and steals. As this year came to a close in the Sweet Sixteen, Allen was left with a major decision to make regarding his future. Would he forgo his final two seasons at Duke in hopes of making an immediate impact in the NBA, or would he show loyalty to school and head coach that gave him the platform to showcase his tantalizing craft?

While there was little debate as to what Duke teammate Brandon Ingram would decide as he is projected as a top three pick, Allen’s case was more on the ambiguous side. Allen was projected by many as a late first round pick with the potential to slide into the second round. With this in mind, Allen recently announced his plans to stay at Duke for his junior season.

With Allen’s decision to stay at Duke, the Blue Devils are poised for another championship run as incoming freshmen Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Frank Jackson will provide Coach Krzyzewski’s team with another monster recruiting class. Combine the talented incoming freshmen with the veteran leadership of Allen and Amile Jefferson, and Duke has one of the most talented teams in the country going into next season.

Not only is Allen’s decision great for Duke and fans of their program, but is is terrific for college basketball as a whole. Through his stellar play and minor on court tripping instances, the media labeled Allen as the next white Duke villain. Allen has found himself amongst the likes of Christian Laettner, Steve Wojciechowski, and JJ Redick in the minds of almost every media personality. With Allen staying at Duke for at least one more year, this storyline has the potential to dominate the college basketball world. While from afar college basketball may have seemed dull to the average fan this season, next year should prove to be much more enthralling and narrative driven.

E-mail Alec at alec.kwait@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @alec_kwait.

Photo: Duke University Athletics

ACC Links: A Busy Off-Season Proves there is No Downtime in the ACC

It may be the off-season for both college basketball and college football, but there is still plenty of news to talk about in the ACC. Georgia Tech has hired a new head men’s basketball coach, the face of Duke basketball, Grayson Allen is returning next year, the Virginia baseball team is finding out that it’s tough being the hunted team, the Master’s had a nice ACC flavor to it this year and D’Brickashaw Ferguson is retiring from the NFL.

Georgia Tech Hires Pastner As New Men’s Basketball Coach

Georgia Tech announced the hiring of Memphis head Coach Josh Pastner as its new men’s basketball coach, replacing Brian Gregory. Gregory compiled a record of 76-86 and Tech won just 27 of its 88 ACC games during his tenure. Tech has struggled to find a worthy successor to legendary coach Bobby Cremins, who retired in 2000 after 19 years at the helm of the men’s program. Pastner becomes the 14th head coach in Georgia Tech men’s basketball history.

Grayson Allen Returns to Duke for Another Trip

In something of a surprise, talented but controversial Duke guard Grayson Allen has announced that he will return to Duke for his junior season, joining what is judged to be the nation’s best recruiting class for a run at the national title. Allen, who averaged 21.5 points per game for the Blue Devils last season, made as much news for his on-court behavior as for his all-league play, and in the process became the latest Duke player criticized for play beyond the bounds of sportsmanship. Duke also announced that freshman starting point guard Derryck Thornton is leaving the program. Not to worry Duke fans, five-star point guard Frank Jackson is a member of the incoming class.

National Champion Hoos Struggling for Consistency

The reigning NCAA baseball champion Virginia Cavaliers are struggling for consistency just one year after besting Vanderbilt in a thrilling three-game series to capture the program’s first-ever national championship. The Cavaliers currently sit at 20-14 overall and 7-8 in league play after dropping two of three at Boston College this past weekend. Pitching, long a program strength under head coach Brian O’Connor, has been the team’s weakness this season. The Cavaliers currently sport a team E.R.A. of 4.19, the highest of any of O’Connor’s Virginia teams. At this point Virginia, college baseball’s winningest program since 2009, looks to be in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in thirteen seasons.

ACC Well-Represented in the Masters Field

U.S. Amateur runner-up and current UVA junior Derek Bard was among nine golfers from six ACC schools in this year’s Masters field, the most of any conference. Five ACC alumni have won a total of eight green jackets, led of course by Wake Forest’s Arnold Palmer’s four. Bard, who posted a two-day

total of +9 and missed the cut, nevertheless enjoyed the experience tremendously and told reporters that being paired with 2008 Masters Champion Trevor Immelman was a particular thrill, as was playing a practice round with 1987 champion and Georgia Tech alum Larry Mize. Ferguson’s NFL Retirement a Harbinger?

The mounting evidence that concussions have a cumulative and deleterious effect on players is starting to drive otherwise healthy players into retirement. The latest to announce something to that effect is Jets’ ten-year veteran and UVA graduate D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Ferguson, who missed only one play in his professional career and never once appeared on the Jets’ inury list and doesn’t think he ever has had a concussion, nevertheless attributed his decision to retire to worries about the cumulative effects

D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s NFL Retirement a Harbinger?

The mounting evidence that concussions have a cumulative and deleterious effect on players is starting to drive otherwise healthy players into retirement. The latest to announce something to that effect is Jets’ ten-year veteran and UVA graduate D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Ferguson, who missed only one play in his professional career and never once appeared on the Jets’ inury list and doesn’t think he ever has had a concussion, nevertheless attributed his decision to retire to worries about the cumulative effects of a long professional career spent knocking heads against opposing linemen.

*Featured image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

NCAA Tournament Preview: West Region

It is that time again. People filling out brackets at the office, getting into betting pools based on 18- and 19-year-old young men, people trying to pick the right upsets, and maybe even picking that “Cinderella story”. I know it’s a shameless “Caddyshack” reference, but it certainly applies when people get into a bracket for the tournament.

Getting past all the brackets being filled out, let’s take a look at the West Region, which is led by the Oregon Ducks as the region’s number one seed.

Overview

The big teams on this side of the bracket are Oregon, Oklahoma, Duke, and Texas A&M, but as a region the West is relatively weak compared to the other sides of the bracket. When I look at the top four teams in this region, I don’t look at one team and think “Oh, they win this region with ease.” Let’s look at the teams that have a pretty good shot at coming out of the West.

Oregon is playing as well as anybody in the country right now. People might be looking at the Ducks and underestimating them a little bit. Don’t sleep on the Quack Attack. They have athletes and play well together as a team.

Oklahoma can win this region as well. They get to play their game(s) in Oklahoma City and are considered one of the top two seeds in the whole tournament. They also have one of the best players in the country in Buddy Hield who can simply take over a game and win that game.

Defending National Champion Duke, which is arguably having a down year, could win this region behind its best player, Grayson Allen. You just have to watch your feet around Grayson. Grayson can flat out score the basketball and if he gets going it can have positive consequences for the Blue Devils.

Celtic great, Bill Russell, has always said basketball is about “getting buckets”. Texas A&M gets buckets in bunches and is scoring an average of 10 points per game more than its opponent. When the Aggies get on a run, it can result in an avalanche of points that their opponents can’t recover from. If teams have to match the scoring of Texas A&M they will be in for a long night and that is why the Aggies can win the West Region.

Players to Watch

Dillon Brooks (Oregon): This kid can play some basketball. Having watched him live, he is a match up problem for most teams. He can post up down low, bang with the big guys, score, or he can take his game to the perimeter and knock down shots. He’s the hybrid type of player that is a nightmare for opposing coaches to game plan for. He’s the leader for Oregon and he could make his national coming out party in the Tournament.

Grayson Allen (Duke): Grayson is another in the long line of hated Duke Blue Devils who can shoot the ball. This player is as tough as they come and can score from the mid-range area, can take it to the rim, and hit the three-point shot with relative ease. If he has another moment like he did in last year’s title game, the Blue Devils could make another special run this year.

Buddy Hield (Oklahoma): This young man was one of the best stories in college basketball this season. The young Bahamian averaged 25 points per game and can also hit the three point shot at a fantastic rate as well. The other thing that comes with a season like he had is that he just might win National Player of the Year. The aspect that I like about him is his personality. He smiles for the cameras, he’s engaging, and looks like he’s actually enjoying himself out on the court. Watch Hield and you could be watching something special happen.

Gary Payton II (Oregon State): This is one of those stories that people who follow Oregon State would only know about. Last time the Beavers were in the NCAA Tournament, Gary Payton Sr. was leading the Beavers to the tournament. It’s a circle of life thing for the Beaver fans. The son, is making his mark this year in the Pac-12 and is in the running for the Player of the Year award for the conference. He plays both ends of the court and to say his relative calm demeanor takes away from his game would be a gross mischaracterization. Watch this kid play. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Thought

At the end of the day, I think the West is about as wide open as it could possibly be. Oregon earned its number one seed by winning the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles but you can’t take anything away from Duke, Oklahoma, or even Texas A&M. As a person who has followed college basketball his entire life, I know the NCAA Tournament is full of surprises and I am sure this year will be no different. Let the games begin.

E-mail Mike at mike.wilson@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Photo: google