Coach K tries to dial back hype on Zion Williamson, freshmen: ‘Duke fans, just cut it out’

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has some advice for fans of his storied program and this season's talented freshman class: Chill out on the hype. 

Following the Blue Devils' 21-point home win over Indiana Tuesday night — the team's first victory since suffering an upset to Gonzaga last week — the NCAA's all-time winningest coach tried to dial back fans' expectations on a star-studded group that quickly vaulted to No. 1 in the coaches poll and garnered perfect-season buzz following its season-opening blowout of Kentucky.

"Let's get real about this whole thing," Krzyzewski told reporters Tuesday. "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.

"Duke fans, just cut it out, man. These kids aren't perfect."

Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were the top three recruits in the class of 2018, per ESPN, and all three are expected to be NBA draft lottery picks — with either Williamson or Barrett projected to take the top pick. Along with fellow standout Tre Jones, the freshmen have drawn comparisons to Michigan's Fab Five.

"I'll go to war with my guys," Krzyzewski said. "We lose, I'll lose with them."  

In Duke's 89-87 loss to Gonzaga in last week's Maui Invitational, the game came down to the final possession in which Barrett drove into several defenders only to come up empty as time expired. Krzyzewski scoffed at the idea of Barrett making an selfish play at the end, and felt the officials bailed the 'Zags out.

"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. … (Barrett) wasn't playing hero's ball. He was playing winner's ball. … He had the heart to do that."

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