Boys basketball

Move to point guard has revived Teal's game

2013-12-19T17:00:00Z 2013-12-20T01:28:10Z Move to point guard has revived Teal's gameJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
December 19, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

When athletes set the bar as high as Cole Teal does, there will inevitably be times when they fall short.

"I expect a ton of myself," the Chesterton senior said.

After moving up to varsity as a freshman and fashioning a great finish to his sophomore season, Teal was a star on the rise.

But the anticipated carryover to his junior year didn't materialize.

"I put so much pressure on myself," Teal said. "I was so stressed out. I didn't meet my expectations. The team could've done better. We had a ton of talent."

Coach Tom Peller saw Teal's struggles. Opponents who didn't pay much attention to him before were now focused on containing Teal.

"There were high expectations," Peller said. "He wasn't playing up to his potential. He was fighting himself. I thought he was a pressing a little bit to do more. As a coach, I thought, 'What can I do to help?"

A move to point guard late in the season turned Teal's game in the right direction. It was a natural fit for the Trojans quarterback.

"I like to have the ball in my hands, to be in control of things," Teal said. "I had a better feel."

Teal ran the point during the summer with his Mean Streets AAU team, playing across the country with and against top-end Division I talent.

"It was great competition," he said. "You come back (to high school), it doesn't even compare. From a confidence standpoint, it really helps. I wasn't as good of a ball handler (before). I feel I can change speeds well (now). The game has slowed down a lot."

With that skill development came emotional growth. It was a crucial step for a player thrust into a key role, ready or not, at a young age.

"It's a maturity thing," Teal said. "I've worked extremely hard. As long as I give 100 percent, I can't ask more of myself. If I miss a shot, I have to move on to the next play. Just like if I throw an interception or make an error. I put it behind me."

A former QB himself, Peller credits Teal's time as a signal caller for building his leadership and toughness. Teal's leash is longer, a perk he's earned over four years.

"There's a trust, a confidence factor," Peller said. "He's seen some lean times. Cole's a bright kid. He knows what's going on. We just give him a little guidance and let him do things. He has a more relaxed demeanor. He's really developed his game. He's letting it come to him. He's playing well right now."

Teal averages 12.8 points per game and shooting a robust 44 percent from the arc. The freshman who scored his first bucket against Merrillville's Jeremiah Jones and matched up with Crown Point's Spike Albrecht is now a veteran. He verbally committed this week to attend Williams College, a Division III school in Massachusetts that is highly-regarded for its academics and hoops.

"I'm excited to focus on one sport," said Teal, who carries a 4.4 grade point average. "People always ask, 'What's your favorite sport?,' guys always say it's whatever season they're in. Deep down, for me, it's basketball. I've just always loved the sport."

A three-sport athlete in ninth grade, Teal gave up baseball to commit more time to basketball. He will return to the diamond this spring.

"It really does fly by," he said. "I had so many goals coming into high school. I wanted to win a sectional championship in football. At least we won a conference championship. I really want to win a conference and sectional title in basketball. All the guys have been talking about it since middle school. We've lost some guys, but the talent is still there. It's a huge goal for us."

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