(photo via bleacherreport.com)
If there is one player on Kentucky’s team – in this humble writers opinion – that needs to show more consistency, it is the floor general Marquis Teague. We have seen countless times two different sides of Teague that lead to some pretty rough patches of game time. Whether it’s his inability to score or coughing the ball up over and over, Teague has clear weaknesses. Here’s a quick rundown of areas for improvement for Mr. Teague. This is nothing ground breaking, but it’s finals week at UK and I’m short on time. Deal with it.
— Gain confidence at the charity stripe
It’s such a simple thing; a straight-away 15 footer with all the time in the world to sink. Yet Teague – and several of his teammates, as well – have such a difficult time making the shot. He is 14-24 on the season, one of the most notable misses coming on the front end of a one-and-one in the final seconds of the North Carolina game. Free throws are one of the few things you have direct control over in a game of basketball, there is no excuse for shooting 58% from the line. Teague has to improve his free-throw shooting abiliy; seeing the ball go through the rim, no matter how it’s done, always boosts the confidence of a player.
— Slow down to limit turnovers
Calpari’s offense obviously runs on a quick pace, but we’ve seen the offense eating a lot of shot clock recently to much success. Teague is still finding his handles and adjusting to college-level speed, until his hands and feet catch up to his mind, he needs to avoid working the ball in traffic and just distribute more. Turnovers are Teague’s biggest weakness at this point, if he can eliminate handing the ball over for easy points on the other end it will go a long way towards picking the entire team up. The stellar defensive side of the Cats can’t be utilized on opposing team’s fast breaks.
— Be more vocal… in the right way
Something I’ve noticed while the team is huddling is a quiet Marquis Teague. And something I notice when Teague goes to the bench is a yelling Marquis Teague, what appears to be back talk at Coach Cal. These things need to be reversed. The point guard should be able to command control of his team, and as a freshman Teague needs to take instruction from coach. Now I have no idea how Teague handles himself the vast majority of the time, I’m just giving my outside observations. I’m not saying he has an ego problem, either, I just think a little maturing need to be done on his end. He clearly has the basketball talent to excel, but at times he could carry himself a little better.
— Sink the gimmies
In the same vein as making the free throws, Marquis Teague misses more wide open looks at the rim than I care to remember. I wrote several weeks ago that Kentucky needs to quit missing so many layups, but it’s a reoccurring trend almost every week. Missed shots are going to happen, especially as many times at the Cats drive the lane, but they can’t keep coming up empty on easy points. Teague seems to be the worst offender of this. Take a look back in the Cats four most recent games, Teague is a combined 13-of-31 from the floor inside the arc, that’s 42% – by far the worst on the team. But credit to Teague for turning it around; we saw a different player in the second half of the Indiana game — one who was juking and spinning his way to the rim… and finishing. Yes, Teague is a point guard and doesn’t have a great stroke, but he isn’t shooting many deep balls either.
Maybe Calipari has a way of lighting a fire under Teague at halftime, because this is two straight games where he has been borderline abysmal in the first half, only to bounce back in the second. Perhaps we could get that fire stoked up in the pre-game? Before you tell me Teague is a freshman and is making freshman mistakes – I know this. But he’s playing big-time basketball for a big-time team. He needs to grow up in a hurry, and I have no doubt that he will.