While there is still no official word on repercussions, in the press conference following Duke's 92-52 win against Gardner-Webb, both head coach Mike Krzyzewski and several players emphasized that Sunday morning’s incident involving junior Michael Savarino and freshman Paolo Banchero would be handled internally. Players also expressed their support for Savarino and Banchero.
Savarino, Krzyzewski’s grandson, was arrested and charged with DWI and Banchero was charged with aiding and abetting DWI at 1:10 a.m., Sunday morning after a police officer pulled Savarino over for a stop sign violation. Savarino showed signs of impairment and admitted to consuming alcohol, and, following a field sobriety test in which he performed “poor[ly]” according to police documents obtained by The News & Observer, he was taken into custody where a breathalyzer test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.08, the legal limit for any person regardless of age. Savarino, who is under 21, was driving a car registered to Banchero, who was sitting in the backseat at the time of the stop. Banchero was charged and released at the scene.
The news was first reported by Steve Wiseman of The News & Observer Tuesday morning, with the Blue Devils scheduled to play Tuesday evening. The status of both involved players was unclear, as the program did not release a statement following the incident, including any regarding punishments, beyond a statement from Krzyzewski that said, “We are reviewing a legal matter involving two members of the men’s basketball team...Any further actions as a result of this situation will ultimately be determined by the Vice President/Director of Athletics and University officials.”
Banchero was then seen warming up with the team prior to the game, however Savarino was not present on the court or on the bench all evening. Later, Banchero was announced as a starter and played the game as normal. He put up 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the win. The Duke men’s basketball and Duke Athletics social media accounts also posted about the game as usual without mention of the incident.
In the postgame press conference, Krzyzewski opened with an ordinary statement about the game, talking about the team’s goals coming into the contest, such as shutting down Gardner-Webb’s 3-point shooting. After the floor was opened for questions, Krzyzewski was asked for comment on Sunday’s incident.
Krzyzewski said, “We had a violation of our standards, and we'll handle that internally. We've already handled...are handling it.”
When asked for comment on the decision to start Banchero while Savarino was excluded from the lineup, he said that they were, “Two different situations. Two entirely different situations,” with the implied difference being Savarino’s DWI charge and Banchero’s aiding and abetting DWI charge.
Krzyzewski elaborated, saying, “Headlines might make it look like it’s the same. It's not. So I think the decisions we made are in conjunction with our authorities, my superiors, and we're taking action. We took action, and we will continue to take action.”
The rest of Krzyzewski’s availability was focused on the game of basketball and the team’s performance against Gardner-Webb.
Athletic Director Nina King was present at the conference but left with Krzyzewski and did not give comment.
Junior captain Wendell Moore Jr., freshman Trevor Keels and sophomore Mark Williams each separately spoke with media personnel afterwards, and all three expressed both the privacy of the matter and their support for their teammates through this time.
Moore opened his availability by saying, “It was really a big win for us. I mean, things we've been going through this past week’s been a lot, as you guys all know. So this game really means a lot to us. I mean, now it’s bigger than us: we want to play for [Savarino] tonight. I thought we came out, and we really made him proud.”
When asked if the team met to discuss the incident, Moore said, “Everything was handled internally. So what was happening between us stayed between us.”
Williams echoed that statement, saying, “We're definitely handling it internally, and there's not really much more to it. Everybody knows what happened, like...moving on.”
Keels, when asked a similar question about whether Krzyzewski talked with the team about the incident, said, “Nah. We didn’t really talk about that. He was focused on the game today.” However, later on Keels said, “Coach talked to us a little bit. We talked to each other a little bit. We just focused on the game tonight.”
Keels later said, “Coach talked to us a little bit. I talked to [Banchero], he talked to all of us. And it's a lesson, and we learned and we got to keep moving and handle business moving forward.”
Keels, who is Banchero’s roommate, in response to a question about what he as a young player can learn from the situation, said “Just have [my teammates’] back. It's too many people already, giving them bad...saying negative comments. We gotta be there to protect our brother.”
He also emphasized that they were aware of the chatter on social media regarding Savarino and Banchero, but that the team, and especially Banchero, tried not to pay attention to it.
He also said, about Banchero playing in the game, “He a good dude, so he always gonna keep good confidence. We had a game today. He ain’t let the outside noise distract him too much. We was there to help him get through. He was good in class. He was good pregame. He was himself. He ain’t really changed at all.” Keels echoed this sentiment multiple times.
Williams also spoke to Banchero’s mindset. He said, “He didn't seem too different. I think he just wanted to go out there and win. And that's honestly the biggest thing, so I just buy that.”
As for Savarino, Moore, who is Savarino’s roommate, said of whether or not the team has spoken with him, “I mean, I live with him, so I talk to him all the time. He's doing great. We talked to him after the game. He's very happy for all of us. I mean, the main thing on him—all he wants us to do is win. That's how to make him feel better, so we did that for him tonight, and I can't wait to have him back.”
Moore said they spoke with Savarino over FaceTime and added, “He’s right there with us all night.”
When asked about this call, Williams said that it’s, “always a great experience. He's a great guy.”
Moore added that, while Savarino is, “obviously...down individually,” if the team is winning, “[Savarino is] happy at the end of the day.”
Before moving into talk about the game, Moore finished his statements about the incident saying, “We're always gonna have our brothers’ back. No matter what happens to them, whether it’s [Savarino], whether it’s [Banchero], we're gonna have each other's back no matter what.”
While there is still no word from the team or University on repercussions for the charges, Savarino and Banchero have court dates, according to the police documents, in early December.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Sasha Richie is a Trinity senior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.