UK Men's Basketball

Calipari: 'I've got to do a better job' coaching Teague

Wildcats point guard Marquis Teague took instruction from coach John Calipari as UK defeated Radford 88-40 on Wednesday.
Wildcats point guard Marquis Teague took instruction from coach John Calipari as UK defeated Radford 88-40 on Wednesday. Lexington Herald-Leader

With more turnovers (18) than assists (11) through four games, Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague had reason for concern. That his uneven play fit a familiar pattern for John Calipari's first-year point guards helped ease any anxiety.

"It lets me know I'm going to be all right," Teague said after UK's 88-40 victory over Radford Wednesday. "I'm not the first one to come out playing like this. Honestly, it gives me confidence."

Teague played perhaps his steadiest game of the young season against Radford. He had a career-high five assists and career-low two turnovers in 31 minutes against Radford.

As he did after earlier games, UK Coach John Calipari noted how he has to work more closely with Teague.

"He's a great kid," Calipari said. "I've got to do a better job. I've got to coach him better. I've got to be better prepared to really break down tape with him and show him and talk to him during the games.

"He's got to be right near me, at least for the next month, and then he'll be fine."

After four college games, many of Calipari's star freshman guards struggled at times. That includes Memphis' Derrick Rose (nine assists, 12 turnovers), Tyreke Evans (17 assists and 16 turnovers) and UK's Brandon Knight (nine assists and 18 turnovers).

Teague, like the others a much-ballyhooed recruit, acknowledged the difficulty of adjusting to the college level.

"It's been the hardest time for me ever in my life," he said. "... Coach Cal expects a lot from his point guard. They have to run his team and still be able to get yourself going."

More than once this early season, Calipari has tried to redirect any criticism of Teague onto himself. Most memorably, the UK coach noted how he confused the freshman against Old Dominion last Sunday by labeling two strategies with the word "Loop."

Teague sounded ready to accept some of the responsibility for the mixup, calling it a "rookie mistake" against ODU. "We got on two different pages," he said.

Teague took the long view of Calipari's demands.

"I know everything he's doing is only going to make me better," he said. "Obviously, he's had all those point guards. So what he tells me is correct. I'm just going to listen."

To coach Rose, Evans, Knight and John Wall equals credibility.

"It works," Teague said of Calipari's instruction. "You can't compete with that. It works, so you have to listen."

Teague said he's been trying to do too much too fast in the early season. He counseled patience.

"When you first come, it's kind of overwhelming," he said. "It's kind of tough to figure out."

The transition from high school to college almost represents having to relearn the game.

"Most of the time (in high school), I could break my guy down and do whatever I want," Teague said. "Here, you've got to run your team ... . There are great players. You have to make sure they get their touches."