(AP Photo/Robert Willett)
Perhaps my Tuesday post should have prefaced with the fact I was going to post another, better version. This time detailing what the point guard for Kentucky is doing well. Or maybe I should have published this one first. Fooled you, didn’t I? You thought, “Oh no, not more negativity!” Anyway, here’s a quick look at what Marquis Teague is doing right for the Wildcats, and how he’s doing it.
— Getting a feel for the game
Most everyone can agree they were a little on edge with the amount of turnovers Teague coughed up in the first few games. And I think everyone and their mom dug up statistics about how he was still on pace with the two previous Kentucky point guards. While that is true, and he wasn’t turning the ball over as much as it seemed, he has really begun to control the ball well. He’s only lost it six times in the last four games. That’s a very good figure for a young point guard against some very solid competition. I pointed out Teague has begun to slow down his pace a little in order to let the speed of the game come to him, and that’s a good thing right now. I expect we’ll see his wheels really start to turn before long, though.
— Being smart on defense
This is a hard figure to really pin down, but as I sit and watch the games unfold, it is very rare that I ever notice Teague out of place. We’ve seen plenty of Cats beat in the paint, but that’s to be expected down low; even Doron Lamb as stumbled a bit in terms of sticking to his man. Teague isn’t known for his exceptional defensive talent, but he’s held his own, all while decreasing the number of fouls he’s picked up. Of course, with Twany Beckham now eligible maybe we see even more aggression. Regardless, Teague seems to have a solid grasp of what Calipari wants from him without the ball.
Teague is doing something no other Calipari point guard in recent memory has done as well: pass the ball. We have seen an overall increase in assists from Teague, with 22 in the last four games. His slower pace and using more of the shot clock seem to allow for better play development in the dribble-drive – what the team is running a lot more of in half-court offense. Teague should continue to be a pass first point guard; that’s who he is and what will make this team better. And for a guy who was recruited with expectations his half-court offense was a weakness, I’d say he’s handling it well.
— Protein shakes
Yes, Teague is buff. Doesn’t he just look big on the court? He’s a little shorter than Brandon Knight or John Wall, but he’s just as heavy. And I mean that in a very good way. Part of Teague’s exceptional talent is using his explosiveness to simply overwhelm his defender. His solid build will almost always put him at the advantage in terms of physicality. He has the ability to take over a game using his body and killer instincts, and he has shown flashes of that. Let’s just put to all together.
If we see sustained effort in these areas I have no doubt another elite Calipari point guard will develop in a hurry. But as he continues to use his head and distribute the ball to the real scoring threats on the team, as well as improve in the areas discussed Tuesday, we as fans need to be patient with him. He’s showing the beginnings of a breakout. However, these are grown men who are expected to perform at an elite level; there’s no harm in demanding the best. We’re Kentucky after all. Maybe the holidays will give him time to focus on basketball instead of the rigors of class, like “Dinosaurs and Disasters 101.”
Chattanooga, prepare your butts.