Basketball lifer Jeff Capel said the sport has entered “uncharted territory” with the Grayson Allen situation.
The Duke associate head coach, who’s a coach’s son, a former Duke player and head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and Oklahoma, is serving as the Blue Devils’ coach while his boss, Mike Krzyzewski, recovers from back surgery.
In his new role, he’s in charge of coaching Allen, the controversial junior guard who was caught intentionally tripping opponents three times between February and December 2016.
He’s seen how the college basketball world treats his star player.
Opponents chanting profane phrases at Allen are to be expected, Capel said. That’s especially true since Allen put himself back in the spotlight on Dec. 21, when he tripped Elon’s Steven Santa Ana. Duke suspended Allen one game for that transgression.
But there are plenty of other things about the Allen saga Capel doesn’t like.
“Obviously there’s a lot of other stuff with Grayson,” Capel said Monday. “I don’t think it’s just on the road. It is at home with the intense scrutiny because the scrutiny is not coming just from the fans. The scrutiny is coming from media. That’s the reality of the situation. There are things that have been said in the media about him that are not right just like some of the things that Grayson has done have not been right.
“So you are dealing with a situation ... that in all my years of watching and being around basketball ... I’ve never seen this before. I especially have never seen it directed toward a college kid. So it’s uncharted territory.”
While Capel didn’t mention any specific media outlet, ESPN has featured Allen’s situation on several of its shows.
Last Wednesday, Allen was a popular subject on the network the day after Duke’s 88-72 loss at Florida State. A video circulated on social media of Allen diving after a loose ball and landing on the Florida State bench.
With the ball live on the court, Allen righted himself and headed back to join play. While getting up from the bench, he shoved Florida State assistant coach Dennis Gates with two hands.
Gates released a statement saying it was “not a dirty play” and commended Allen for good hustle.
“I did not in any way feel attacked nor disrespected as the media and others are portraying Grayson Allen’s character and hustle,” Gates said. “All I view it to be is a great hustle play. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
ESPN’s Michelle Beadle, while discussing the play on SportsNation, called for physical retaliation against Allen in light of all of his incidents.
“What have I said?” Beadle asked her colleagues during last Wednesday’s show. “Knock. Him. Out. Enough is enough, I don’t need him to be punished, I don’t need mommy and daddy to step in. I need an opponent to say ‘enough.’ ”
Capel said Monday that the team continues to support Allen. The school and team also continue to counsel Allen in hopes of preventing any more tripping incidents, which both Krzyzewski and Capel have said were unacceptable behavior.
“The thing that we have talked to Grayson about is just go to the team, just worry about the team,” Capel said. “Worry about us and really throw yourself into us and worry about that and not get caught up.”
Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC