UNCs Williams: Criticism of Dukes Grayson Allen blown out of proportion

Allen has become Public Enemy No. 1 in college basketball because of three tripping incidents over the past two seasons, but the Tar Heel coach thinks his teams rival is getting a bum rap

Jamie Rhodes—USA Today Sports
Jan 14

CHAPEL HILL — The eyes of the college basketball world will be on Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday when North Carolina and Duke renew the nation’s best, most intense rivalry. That added attention will only increase the scrutiny on Grayson Allen. The Blue Devils’ star has become Public Enemy No. 1 in college basketball because of three tripping incidents over the past two seasons — the most recent of which was followed by an epic sideline meltdown and much-discussed one-game suspension. Allen’s actions and his bad boy reputation have led to a new game within a game, one in which internet trolls and members of the national media actively seek out incidents to reinforce their belief that the junior guard is an out-of-control thug. It’s an exercise that in the estimation of Tar Heels’ coach Roy Williams, of all people, has given Allen a bum rap. “It’s been way, way, way blown out of proportion,” Williams said Tuesday. “I see all those things. I think he’s a wonderful kid who he himself and Mike (Krzyzewski) himself has said has made some mistakes.” Barely a game has gone by since Allen’s one-game suspension in late December that a clip of him making contact with an opponent on the court isn’t posted on social media, usually with a caption like “Did he do it again?” He was also accused by his detractors of throwing a punch at Florida State assistant coach Dennis Gates while falling into the Seminoles bench chasing a loose ball — a notion Williams dismissed with a shake of the head and a laugh. “I’m so old I recruited Dennis,” the UNC coach said. “Now if it had been Dennis going in there, Dennis might have tried to hit somebody. But I thought that was totally nothing, absolutely nothing. That’s my opinion. Everybody’s got one.” Williams wasn’t the only Tar Heel coming to Allen’s defense Monday. Former AAU summer teammate Joel Berry, who described himself as a good friend of his now rival, said he sees a “different side” of Allen than most of those just watching from the stands and on television. “I have a different perspective of Grayson, just because I’ve seen him off court and I’ve been around him,” Berry said. “Just seeing the stuff that’s been going on is pretty shocking because he didn’t do any of that when he was playing with me on the AAU circuit. It’s shocking, but I hate that people are playing him out to be a tripper or whatever you want to call it.” Berry said that he and Allen have maintained their friendship despite the rivalry that exists between their schools, although they don’t communicate as much now that the season is in full swing than they do at other times during the year. “My parents and his parents talk more than me and him,” Berry said. “We just don’t have the time. We’re always focused on the games, academics and everything. Every once in awhile we’ll say ‘what’s up’ to each other. “But nothing more than that.” It’s doubtful the two will talk to each other before Thursday’s game. But if they did, Berry was asked what he might tell his hyper-scrutinized friend. “I think now with him being (on) the radar like he is, he just has to be twice as good,” Berry said. “You might as well just try to stay out of the media.”