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Teague to use expectations as motivation

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Comparisons are something Marquis Teague should be used to at this point. Growing up as the younger brother to Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, Marquis has faced comparisons his entire life.

Now, Marquis, the five-star freshman point guard for the University of Kentucky men's basketball team, will face comparisons to other John Calipari coached guards such as Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight. It's a tall order, indeed, but it's one his head coach believes he's ready for.

"I think he's up for the challenge," Calipari said. "I wouldn't have brought him here if I didn't think he was up for it. But it's not going to be smooth sailing. There's going to be ups and downs, he's going to turn the ball over. Offense and defense will be spotty. By the end of the year, you'll see another guy in that line who can really get it done for us."

Marquis will handle the starting point guard duties for UK this year and is one of the headliners in perhaps the most highly touted freshman class Calipari has brought to the Bluegrass State. With that said, comparisons and pressure are two things the 6-foot-2 Indianapolis, Ind., native does not waste his time on. Being the top ranked guard in the top ranked class is motivation, Teague says, and he welcomes the talk.

"I don't try to look at it as pressure," Teague said. "I just want to come in and play my game and try to help our team win. ... It's motivation to me to make sure I'm in the gym working hard, getting better every day."

Getting in the gym is one thing Marquis has learned from Jeff. Off the court, the two don't always talk basketball, they are brothers after all and there is more in life. But when Jeff can make it out to Marquis' games, he does give his little brother words of wisdom.

"He's taught me a lot," said Marquis who admitted to never having beaten Jeff yet in a game of hoops. "The main thing he's told me is, every day you step in the gym make sure you go 100 percent."

A slashing guard with quick handles and a 3-point shot, Marquis comes to UK as a different type of guard than Rose, Evans, Wall and Knight. Where the preceding four guards were elite in scoring, passing or speed, Calipari said Marquis may be the best pick-and-roll guard he has recruited.

"On this team it may be something we do," said Calipari in reference to pick-and-rolls. "We may do more pick-and-rolls than I've ever done in my career."

With so many weapons on Kentucky's roster, pick-and-rolls should prove to be very difficult to defend. Marquis, who averaged 22.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game at Pike High School, said the best part of his game is his ability to get to the basket, but his job this season will be facilitating the offense and getting everyone involved.

"I think I need to be a leader on the floor and get everybody involved," Marquis said. "We have so many scorers, so many people who can do so many things, I have to make sure everybody's getting the ball, keeping everybody happy. If we're all scoring at a high level and defending, I feel like it's going to be pretty tough for people to beat us."

One of the reasons it will be so difficult to defeat Kentucky this year is the amount of defense they will be applying to opponents.

Gone is defensive stopper DeAndre Liggins, who was drafted by the Orlando Magic in this summer's NBA Draft. But in his place comes defensive stalwarts like freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, shot blocking extraordinaire Anthony Davis and Marquis, whose speed and tenacity on the ball make him a nuisance to opposing guards.

While defense isn't always the most glamorous of duties, it's something the Wildcats seem to welcome and Marquis says will be the strength of the team.

"I think we're going to play defense," Marquis said. "You know, get in people, full court press, we're going to push the ball and run so that's our strength, playing D.

"If you can't score on us you can't beat us. We feel like we can stop you and that's going to lead to our highlights, getting steals, going down to dunk it, throw alley-oops, that's going to lead to all that. We want to defend first."

With the first game of the regular season just over one month away, Marquis is ready to face the comparisons and expectations. He's talked to his brother, he's talked to his teammates and he's talked to Wall and Knight. As the season gets ready to tip, Marquis had a clear explanation of what he wants the legacy of his freshman class to be.

"(We want to be) a great class, one of the best classes that has come here and worked hard and won the national championship," Marquis said. "That's our main goal: to win the national championship.

"That's why we're playing. There are only a few teams that are up there and can win a national championship people feel. We feel like we're one of them and we feel like we have a great chance."

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