TO UNDERSTAND THE JOURNEY OF KENTUCKY'S MARQUIS Teague from score-first freshman to national champion point guard, simply rewind the collected interviews of Wildcats coach John Calipari and measure the level of exasperation.
OCT. 13, 2011 KENTUCKY MEDIA DAY
EXASPERATION LEVEL: LOW
"Marquis Teague stares at me when I talk to him. I tell you, an open eye.... He's going to do exactly what I say. It's unbelievable. He looks like one of the most coachable guys I've had to this point."
Calipari need not publicly criticize Teague yet. That comes in practice, where the coach is trying to convert a scorer—who averaged 22.7 points for Pike High in Indianapolis—into a distributor. Unlike Calipari's three previous point guards, Derrick Rose at Memphis and John Wall and Brandon Knight at Kentucky, Teague is not the best player on the team. That honor belongs to forward Anthony Davis. With Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb also in the starting lineup, the last thing Teague needs to worry about is scoring. Calipari knows Teague comes from good point guard stock. His older brother, Jeff, starred at Wake Forest and currently makes the Atlanta Hawks go.
Calipari loves what he sees in Teague early. He calls him a "pit bull." Teague's teammates saw those tenacious tendencies even earlier. Last summer, during the open-gym games with NBA players during which the core of this Kentucky team played together for the first time, Teague matched up with Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. Teague showed no fear. "He just wanted to compete," says senior Darius Miller. "We all had fun with it—especially him. He just wanted to see where he was at. I mean, he was going against the best in the business."
OCT. 26 BLUE-WHITE SCRIMMAGE
EXASPERATION LEVEL: RISING STEADILY
"The pace of the game, our point guard doesn't realize yet ... when to go, when to pull, when to fly, when to pull it back. That's why I'm running on the court stopping him. Can I do that during the season? I don't think so."