Patience is key

Patience for this Kentucky basketball team is a key word. It's a common theme not only for the rabid fanbase of the Wildcats, but it's key for the players as well.

Patience for this Kentucky basketball team is a key word. It's a common theme not only for the rabid fanbase of the Wildcats, but it's key for the players as well.

If you've watched Kentucky play this year, you've likely seen a team that could be almost unbeatable at this level if all cylinders are firing. This group, while extremely talented, is very young. Darius Miller is the lone senior on the roster who has had big minutes in his career.

The junior class is virtually non-existent with this group and that leaves Kentucky with two talented sophomores and a loaded freshman class to lean on.

The Wildcats reached the final four last season with some tough defensive play, timely shooting and toughness from a couple of upperclassmen in guard DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson.

This year they are relying on pure skill much more than the physical and mental toughness that they got from the aforementioned players. There are no more skilled players in the country than guys like Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.

Early in the season, Jones, Lamb, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist have been having some outstanding efforts for the Wildcats along with senior Darius Miller. In watching Kentucky, my only concern is at the point guard spot.

That's not to say that Marquis Teague isn't a talented young player. He absolutely is a player who can do many things with the ball: score it, distribute it and handle it. What Teague has to learn is when to do each of those things.

At this stage in his development, he's often trying to get to the rim and score when he should be making the extra pass or finding the gaps in the defense, making the first pass that leads to the second pass for the assist.

Calipari is aware that the point guard spot is a difficult and pressure packed position for players in his system. John Wall struggled early and so did Brandon Knight. At Memphis, Tyreke Evans had his share of problems, as did Derrick Rose. But by the end of the season, each of these players had become a key player in making a run in the NCAA Tournament.

While nobody on the team is playing perfect and none of the freshmen on the team are doing everything asked of them by the coaches, Marquis Teague stands out because he's the primary ball-handler. He's got more pressure on him than anybody else on the roster.

When things slow down for Teague and he begins to understand exactly what Calipari expects, Kentucky's team will run much more smoothly and Teague's skill level will magnify.

None of this will come over night and Kentucky's young point guard and young team will take some lumps as the season progresses. But by the end of the season, very few teams in the nation will be at ease if they look up and see Kentucky in their bracket in the NCAA Tournament.


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