DURHAM, N.C. — In the aftermath of Duke’s first loss of the season last weekend, Mike Krzyzewski is asking fans to dial back the hype that has surrounded the Blue Devils‘ start to the season and appreciate the growing pains for a still raw group of freshmen.
“Let’s get real about this whole thing,” Krzyzewski said. “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.”
Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones were all top-10 recruits, and the early results have been exceptional. After Duke fell to Gonzaga last weekend, however, Krzyzewski thought there was a significant overreaction.
Asked after Tuesday’s dominant win against Indiana if Barrett, in particular, had taken the loss hard, Krzyzewski argued that several key fouls hadn’t been called, and the overreaction that followed the defeat was problematic.
“And Duke fans, just cut it out, man,” he said. “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.”
Krzyzewski noted several plays on which he thought Gonzaga should’ve been whistled for fouls that weren’t called, but he downplayed the impact on the final result, focusing instead on the reaction to the loss.
“We’re not going to complain about that or say the refs lost the game, but come on,” Krzyzewski said. “[Barrett] probably should’ve gone to the foul line. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win.”