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Grayson Allen has a problem. Duke and the ACC have to see that… Hopefully.

What does the Duke star have to do for some action to be taken to interrupt a pattern of behavior that has no place on the basketball court?

Last night, in a 16-point road loss to No. 9 Florida State, Allen shoved a Florida State assistant coach. The headlines read “appears” to shove. The TV talking heads have already begun making excuses, wanting to see the play in full speed rather than slow motion. The Florida State assistant has taken responsibility for his role in being shoved. All this misses a greater issue and gives Allen the benefit of the doubt. This thinking tacitly allows the behavior and it hurts the 21-year-old shooting guard.

With No. 7 Duke down 14 points in the second half, Allen lunged into the the Florida State bench, swatting a loose ball back into play, saving the Duke possession. After making the play, momentum sends Allen farther into the Seminoles’ bench. What is then clearly seen is Allen extending both arms and shoving a Florida State assistant coach as he Duke player braced himself, changed direction and was helped back on the court by other members of the Florida State staff.

Here are two looks at the play:

The Florida State assistant coach, Dennis Gates, who was shoved has already responded with a note on Twitter saying he should’ve moved out of the way and to back off Allen.

That’s kind of Gates, but Allen’s history that can’t be ignored at this point.

Last year, Allen tripped Louisville’s Ray Spalding and Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes. This season, he received an indefinite suspension after a full-throttle trip on Elon’s Steven Santa Ana. That indefinite suspension lasted one game.

On Saturday, Allen had leg issues again when a Boston College player went to set a screen on him. Not quite the other tripping incidents, but he did kick his leg back between the legs of the screener.

This is an impulse problem. Allen loses control – for whatever reason – and acts out. It can’t be tolerated and anybody making an excuse for his actions is doing him a disservice. The same cheap-shot moves wouldn’t be tolerated from other players.

Yes, Duke is hated (for being great). Yes, opposing fans chant mean, horrible, unacceptable things at the Duke star du jour. Yes, Allen faces more pressure, and scrutiny, than most people his age. Yet, none of that justifies or excuses this behavior.

Pretending this isn’t an issue and allowing it to go on will do more harm to Allen than good.


Jerry Barca is the author of Big Blue Wrecking Crew: Smashmouth Football, A Little Bit of Crazy and the ’86 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.