Coach K wants the world to “let them grow,” but it’s too late.
The hype machine was in full swing for Duke and it’s Fab Freshman as they shot out to a 6-0 start, demolishing every team in their path. Fans, Stans and the social media moshpit started anointing The Big 3 Freshman — Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish — as the greatest college team ever.
Then they ran into a veteran-laden Gonzaga squad on the road and took their first L.
Duke was thirsty to get back to Tobacco Road and battle Indiana. The Blue Devils jetted out to a 24-point halftime lead behind the play of Williamson. He shot 11-of-15 from the field and had 22 points and six emphatic dunks. The fab freshmen combined to score 75 of Duke’s points in a 90-69 win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
✅ 25 points
✅ Season-high 6 dunks
Zion Williamson was EATING last night against Indiana 😈 pic.twitter.com/rPWZUsFTtO
— ESPN (@espn) November 28, 2018
Any hype that was tempered by the loss to Gonzaga was back. But after the game, Coach K had a message for the hoops world.
“Let’s not get spoiled,” he told reporters. “We got four 18 and 19-year old kids trying to bust their ass to learn how to play and have a lot of pressure on them. Let em’ grow.”
Before the Gonzaga loss, pundits were predicting an undefeated season for Duke. Some even had the audacity to say that they could beat an NBA team.
Who can blame the overzealous hoops fans for being mesmerized by the possibilities of this Duke team?
While all of the new jacks are talented, Williamson — the 6-foot-7, 285-pound new age Charles Barkley — steals the show every time out with his thunderous dunks, agility, size and passing prowess. He has that superstar swag to top it off.
“That’s the one thing I love about Zion Williamson,” ESPN analyst LaPhonso Ellis said. “He reminds me a lot of a Kevin Garnett, who I had the privilege of playing with, and Alonzo Mourning. The best players on each of those teams … those guys set the bar for what the energy is going to be like day-in and day-out, whether it’s a practice situation or a game situation. I think that’s exactly what Zion does for Duke.”
Williamson hasn’t disappointed on predictions that he would take college basketball by storm. He’s already locked down All-American honors. Despite playing just 27.3 minutes per game, he is averaging 21.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
The more we watch him ball and emerge as the leader on this young squad, it’s hard to contain the excitement as a pure basketball fan.