For the first time in the long Mike Krzyzewski tenure as the head coach of the Duke basketball program, a player has been kicked off the team, as Rasheed Sulaimon, the Junior guard who has been relegated to a bench role this season, having the “honor” of setting that mark.
It’s rare to see a program with the distinction of Duke throwing a player out in the middle of the season, but according to reporters close to the team and the coaching staff, it’s been an accumulation of unprofessional behavior from the player, something that at some point became to difficult to overlook, as his talent couldn’t save him anymore. At some point, the issues he had to deal with outweighed his contribution on the court.
Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program. It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner. After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program.
Sulaimon was a start during his first two seasons with the team, but his time on the floor and his efficiency dropped from his freshman to junior years. With the additions of Tyus Jones and Justice Winslow, two freshmen scoring in double figures this season, it was made clear that Sulaimon’s role would suffer from another reduction in size, which means less playing time for a player that had a chance of going to the NFL draft after his freshman season.
He averaged 7.5 points, 2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 40.4% from beyond the arc. While his body language wasn’t always the most positive in the world, he seemed to be buying into his role of coming off the bench. His defense improved, but it turns out his behavior behind the scenes, when off the court, was going in a different direction.
Who fills in for him? Duke don’t have time for slow progress. Their chances of winning the ACC are fading after three losses in the first seven games and a visit to undefeated Virginia looming this weekend. Another freshman, Grayson Allen, averaging 6.1 minutes a game, might be the one to fill for his minutes. Matt Jones, already playing 17 minutes a game, might simply see his role expand. For a team that’s already being criticized for getting preferential treatment by the polls, having to deal with a huge hit to their bench quality is a major problem.