Duke head men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski wants fans to temper expectations for a team that is led by four of the country's top freshmen.
The Blue Devils are ranked No. 3, but they are coming off their first loss of the season to the now-No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs last week in a game that saw the Zags prevail 89-87.
According to ESPN.com's David M. Hale, Coach K said the following Tuesday regarding the way fans reacted to the loss: "Let's get real about this whole thing. Let's not get spoiled. We've got four 19-year-old kids that are busting their ass trying to learn how to play and have a lot of pressure on them."
Freshmen Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones have contributed significantly to Duke's impressive start.
Williamson is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, Barrett is putting up 22.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists, Reddish is scoring at a clip of 15.3 points per contest, and Jones has run the show effectively at point guard with 10.3 points and 5.9 assists per game.
In reference to the Gonzaga loss, Krzyzewski asked Duke fans to realize that things won't always go perfectly: "And Duke fans, just cut it out, man. These kids aren't perfect. [Barrett] wasn't playing hero's ball. He was playing winner's ball. ... I'll go to war with my guys. He had the heart to do that, Jack [White] had the heart to get the rebound. We lose, I'll lose with them."
On Tuesday, the Blue Devils bounced back with a dominant 90-69 win over the Indiana Hoosiers. Williamson led all scorers with 25 points, while Barrett added 22, Jones scored 15 and Reddish chipped in 13.
Duke is 6-1 with victories over Kentucky, Auburn and Indiana, and it is set to enter the soft stretch of its schedule before it meets the No. 20 Texas Tech Red Raiders on Dec. 20.
While Coach K doesn't want fans to get ahead of themselves, the way Duke is playing suggests it will be a national championship contender in 2018-19, and a narrow loss to Gonzaga does little to change that.