Teague in position for bigger role with Hawks

Mike Bibby says he doesn’t want to slow Jeff Teague’s path to

more minutes at point guard.

It may not be up to him.

Teague will compete for the starting job in his second year with

the Atlanta Hawks, who open practice on Tuesday. However,

first-year coach Larry Drew says the job belongs to the 32-year-old

Bibby until Teague or another player wins the job.

”As I told Mike when I took the job, he is still my point guard

until somebody can come in here and clearly beat him,” Drew said

on Monday.

Teague was a first-round pick from Wake Forest whose playing

time as a rookie was closely monitored by former coach Mike

Woodson.

While Bibby started 80 games last season, Teague made only three

starts and played an average of only 10 minutes per game.

”I felt I could play more and do things out there, but coach

Woodson told me last year he wanted that to be a learning

experience for me,” Teague said. ”He knew I wasn’t going to get

as many minutes as I would like. I soaked it all in and just tried

to get better each day. Hopefully this year I get my

opportunity.”

Drew said Teague will have his opportunity.

”I certainly want to see him step up and take a bigger role,”

Drew said. ”Jeff is a very talented and a very skilled young kid.

He has all the tools and the package at that position that we’re

looking for. He has to step up his level of play and step up his

intensity and I’m going to give him every opportunity to do

that.”

Even Bibby said he wants more help from Teague.

”I’m not trying to stop him from getting minutes,” Bibby said.

”I know I can’t play 35 or 40 minutes a game anymore. I’m just

trying to bring Jeff along and help Jeff as much as I can. If I see

something that can help Jeff, I’m definitely going to tell him.

We’re on the same team. The main thing is I want to win.”

Bibby came to Atlanta in a trade with the Sacramento Kings on

Feb. 16, 2008. He was viewed as the missing link to the Hawks’ rise

to the playoffs, and he is respected by his younger teammates.

”I think Mike is still the head of the snake,” Hawks forward

Josh Smith said Monday. ”Teague is definitely going to be

demanding a bigger role this season. You can’t just throw him in

the fire because he wasn’t really able to get a lot of playing time

last year. It will still be a transition for him and he definitely

has to be a student of the game and learn from Bibby.”

Bibby averaged 14.9 points in the 2008-09 season, but his

scoring fell off last season. He averaged only 9.1 points per game,

his career-low mark.

”People might say I had a down year because I wasn’t scoring

points, but we’ve got enough scorers,” Bibby said. ”I’m just

trying to keep the team going, keep the team on the same

track.”

Drew says he is excited for his first season as a coach after 18

years as an assistant, including six years on Woodson’s staff.

Woodson was fired after the Hawks were eliminated in the second

round of the Eastern Conference for the second straight year.

Every starter returns from last season’s 53-win team, so the

competition at point guard will be closely watched in training

camp.

”Every day he helps me,” said Teague of Bibby. ”Mike is still

a great point guard. I’ve learned everything from him. The way he

handles things and the way he conducts himself have helped me out

in learning how to be a leader.”

Drew ”just told me to be aggressive and play my game and get

after it on the defensive end.”