During Tuesday night's 88-72 loss to Florida State, Duke guard Grayson Allen flew into the Seminoles bench to try to save a loose ball and made contact with assistant coach Dennis Gates, appearing to push the coach.
On Wednesday, however, Gates said he felt it was simply a "basketball play," according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com:
Grayson Allen did not make a dirty play. That was not a dirty play. He plays hard, he dove after a loose ball. I should have been sitting down, but I wasn't. My intent was to absorb the contact. His hip hit my hip and that's what people aren't looking it. That's a basketball play. Not a dirty play. ...
We teach kids to run down loose balls and make hustle plays. That's what he did. He was just trying to get back in the play. Out of reaction, he put his hands up to protect himself. He didn't push me. He was just protecting himself.
Gates also tweeted the following:
The contact may have gone unnoticed—or at least unpublicized—were it any other player. But Allen was in his third game back from a one-game suspension after he tripped Elon's Steven Santa Ana during a December game, his third tripping incident dating back to last season.
On Saturday, Allen was involved in another controversial moment, as he appeared to stick his leg out toward Boston College forward Connar Tava. However, he had been picked from behind and may have been trying to regain his balance. Regardless, the ACC ruled "there is nothing conclusive that can be determined" about that incident, and he avoided further discipline.
The controversy surrounding Allen this season has been one of many obstacles for Duke to overcome. The team has dealt with early-season injuries to Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden and the extended recovery of top prospect Harry Giles. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski is also in the midst of a leave of absence after undergoing back surgery, leaving associate head coach Jeff Capel in charge of the Blue Devils.
Nonetheless, with one of the most talented rosters in the country, Duke has opened the season 14-3. Allen is third on the team with 15.2 points per game and leads the Blue Devils with 4.3 assists per contest.
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