Marquis Teague in charge of managing unique arena setup



Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium has, more or less, stayed the same since 1952. The capacity has changed through the years, a practice gym was added and lockers rooms have been renovated. But the benches being behind the baseline? Still the same. The elevated court? Still the same.

And yet, they’re talked about every year. How can UK’s players possibly adjust to their unusual surroundings? Are they even playing the same game of basketball?

Perhaps this storyline only occurs because the media does not change year to year. The players do. Three of UK’s starters will be encountering the elements that make Memorial Gymnasium unique for the first time.

Among those will be point guard Marquis Teague, who — for half of the game — will be orchestrating UK’s offense with his back to his coaches.

“This will be a great test (for him),” Calipari said.

That’s because Teague will be as independent as he’s been this season. Calipari will give him plays during free throws, but will often give Teague a few options to choose from for the next stream of possessions and give him the choice of what to run.

“If I have to make my own call, I’ll be fine,” Teague said. “I’ll be comfortable with it. I’ll be able to make the read and make the call.”

The rest of the team will have to be on the same page, as well. Terrence Jones said last year players had to remember five-play sequences throughout the game.

“It takes everybody’s focus to remember which one was which,” Jones said. “It’s a little difficult, especially with the crowd.”

Oh, and that crowd — it’s GameDay, the first time it will be held at Vanderbilt. An “#OccupyMemorial” movement has sprung up among UK fans, an attempt to get blue into the crowd and give it more of a UK feel. When asked about that, Calipari said it was the first time he was hearing of it and gave a dual-sided answer.

“If our fans are ruining their day, don’t do it,” Calipari said. “If that’s Vandy’s day, don’t do it. Don’t ruin their day. If it’s for fun and everybody’s enjoying it, fine.”

So one aspect UK will have to deal with (the gymnasium) hasn’t changed in 60 years. The other is a first. But neither will really matter.

“I mean, whether we win or lose will be based on how we play versus how they play,” Calipari said. “It’s not going to be anything about a building or fans.”

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