Rick Bozich has an interesting column up over at the Louisville Courier-Journal today.
The point of the column is that, essentially, Marquis Teague is getting an unfair amount of pressure put on him as he deals with competition from Calipari guards of the past. In case you just started watching college basketball this year, Calipari’s last four point guards have spent a grand total of four years on campus, with each — Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight — ending up being pick somewhere in the top eight.
As a result, Bozich argues, Teague loses his transition period. Kentucky fans are expecting the point guard John Calipari has repeatedly referred to as a “pit bull” on the court to be just as dominating as his four predecessors from the second he steps on the Rupp Arena floor the first rime:
So far the procession has been flawless. But in fairness to Teague, please remember that “The Next” thing is risky business. Ask Curtis Hunter and Kevin Madden.
Who are Curtis Hunter and Kevin Madden? They were North Carolina recruits who were supposed to be The Next Michael Jordan. I won’t even touch the lengthy lists of the next Larry Birds or Magic Johnsons.
That’s where we are in college sports today. Players aren’t guaranteed an adjustment period, although they should be. As supremely talented as Teague is, he will likely need one. Most guys do.
On the one hand, Bozich does have a point. Since the one-and-done era kicked off with some magical freshman performances, every fan in the country is expecting the top recruit on their team’s roster to develop into a star. It puts quite a bit of pressure on those players, and that pressure can manifest itself as early season struggles. Take a look at Harrison Barnes. There was so much hype surrounding his arrival to campus last season, but once he started off slowly, it took him until mid-January to finally gain back his confidence.
So yes, in general I agree with Bozich’s column.
But in regards to Marquis Teague, Bozich couldn’t be more wrong.
Teague knew exactly what he was getting himself into. As a junior is high school, the Indianapolis native was committed to play basketball at Louisville. But once he realized that there was like going to be an opening at Kentucky’s point guard spot, he decommitted from the Cardinals and became a part of Big Blue Nation. No one forced him to make that decision. No one held a gun to his head and told him to leave one side of the UK-UL rivalry to defect to the other side.
He made that decision on his own, and he did it fully knowing the kind of pressure that gets put on Kentucky’s players, particularly their freshmen point guards.
I don’t feel bad for Marquis Teague at all. This is what he wanted.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.