Hokies Forward Jeff Allen: A Marked Man?

Justin CatesCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2010

ATLANTA - MARCH 13:  Jeff Allen #0 and  J.T. Thompson #33 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate against the North Carolina Tar Heels during day two of the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 13, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jeff Allen has, in many ways, become a case study in frustration for Hokie fans.

His basketball pedigree is outstanding, having played at powerhouse Dematha High School, Oak Hill Academy, and Hargrave Military Academy.

He was considered the top prep player in the country prior to arriving in Blacksburg.

During his time at Tech, he’s scored over 1,000 points, and proved to be one of the best big men in the country when it comes to stealing the basketball. His athleticism and body control are impressive for a 6'7'' forward.

At times, though, his aggression on defense leads to head-scratching fouls, and as a result he’s dealt with foul trouble throughout much of his career.

His aggression also has led to more than a few heated run-ins with opposing players and, on occasion, officials.

During Allen’s freshman campaign, in a game at Georgia Tech, he found himself at odds with an official. Showing his immaturity, Allen purposely bumped the official as he was walking past him, earning himself an ejection and suspension.

Last season during a loss at Maryland, Allen flashed a bony middle finger at the student section, earning him yet another rebuke from the league office.

In the eyes of many, the stigma of these transgressions still lingers with Allen and continues to cause him trouble in the eyes of many officials.

That and his aggressive style of play, coupled with a moodiness that sometimes overshadows his abilities.

Some games it doesn’t take much to get Allen frustrated, and his occasional lack of motivation has puzzled coach Seth Greenberg, but the head man is still quick to defend his player.

“He's not the only guy that gets in foul trouble,” Greenberg told the media recently.

“You guys magnify everything negative that happens to Jeff Allen. Why don't we accentuate the good stuff that he does?”

While much of the criticism is well deserved, Greenberg has an interesting point.

Allen’s reputation precedes him, and officials seem to have a tendency to whistle him for fouls that otherwise might be let go.

Case in point, Virginia Tech’s road win at Virginia in the last throes of January.

Allen was whistled for a foul for clearing out with his elbows, a move that is taught by many coaches, but is now a "point of emphasis" for officials everywhere.

Karl Hess, undoubtedly one of the most loathed officials in America, felt the play called for a video review, and what he saw warranted an ejection.

All Hokie bias aside, I was shocked. The move was certainly a foul, but the reaction of the officials seemed unusual for a move perfected by ACC great Tyler Hansbrough.

Ultimately, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, Allen has to realize things are different for him.

He has to play with the control and savvy he’s entirely capable of. He has to be aware that the officials pay extra attention to him, and sometimes he just has to back off a bit.

To his credit, since his ejection Allen has played brilliantly—averaging 15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG and just under four steals per contest in three games.

The only question for him is, can he keep it up?