Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 | 2:09 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 70-61 victory over Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon at the Orleans Arena. It was a game without much flow, but Brice Massamba established himself as a solid No. 2 center in playing 16 minutes off the bench. Plus, Rougeau's Orleans magic, Wink's continued struggles and the Beas Hamga saga.
It's been awhile since UNLV senior guard Wink Adams has been able to go home after a game, sit on his couch and say to himself, "Man, I played a great game today."
How long, exactly?
"Man, not this year," Adams said after letting out a quick laugh. "Probably last year sometime."
The most likely candidate would be his 33-point performance against BYU in the Mountain West Conference tournament title game in March. Still, he was able to smile and joke with an 'aw shucks' attitude following Sunday's 70-61 victory over Western Michigan at the Orleans Arena.
Because his team won.
"I've still got a lot of things I can do to help my team out," Adams said. "Just because my shot's not falling, it doesn't mean I shouldn't be aggressive. I was surprised I had 18 points."
He added four rebounds, three assists and two steals while playing 34 active minutes.
The 18 points came in a fashion that's become quite familiar this season. Adams scored close to half of them — eight — from the free-throw line and was just 5-of-16 from the floor, including an 0-for-7 showing from 3-point range.
That extended Adams' streak of games without a 3-point make to five. His last one came Nov. 24 at Texas-El Paso. He's missed his last 20 3-point attempts.
That's not to say UNLV as a team was pretty from either the stripe or beyond the arc. The Rebels connected on three of their 19 deep tries, and just 21 of 34 free throws. But Adams was the only one who couldn't get it going from both.
The most uncharacteristic part of it all for Adams was a stretch in the middle of the game where he misfired on five free throws in a row. A guy who a year ago shot at an 84.8 percent clip at the line, Adams is only shooting with 70.4 percent efficiency from there this season.
But while those five consecutive misses are something Adams hasn't experienced in “a long time,” the most visibly frustrating instance for him Sunday came about 40 seconds after he missed a pair of free throws.
He worked himself open on the right wing and took a quick feed, launching an open 3-pointer. It was the exact situation he's worked on recently at the end of team practices, but the ball popped out of the bucket after it was halfway down. On the way back up the floor to lock down on defense, he slapped his hands together and yelled at himself.
Then, during a media timeout just moments later, when teammate Brice Massamba extended his hand to greet Adams, the senior guard angrily slapped the freshman big man's paw with a scowl still on his face.
"Sometimes, I've got a tendency to pressure myself, put a lot of pressure on myself for missing shots," Adams said. "My team depends on me to hit those shots. When I miss shots, I kind of get down on myself. But coaches, teammates always tell me to keep shooting."
And that will continue to be the plan.
"He's been so effective mixing in the ‘three’ throughout his career that you'd hate to say stop," coach Lon Kruger said. "And, again, the thing is he's making them in practice, he's shooting well in practice and he's putting in the extra work. We keep saying it takes a couple to get it going, but at some point he'll need to do that."
Added fellow senior René Rougeau: "He's our leader, he's our general. Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant miss a lot of shots, but that doesn't mean they stop shooting. If anything, if he's missing, that means I've gotta go to the boards that much harder. He definitely takes a lot of pressure off the other guys, and that's when we've got to step up and hit shots for him."
Adams just can't pinpoint one specific reason why his shots won't fall.
There are certainly some theories.
Does it have anything to do with the added muscle he put on his upper body during the offseason?
"You put on a lot of weight in the upper body, the ball feels a lot lighter," he responded. "I feel like I could shoot a normal jumper from half-court if I wanted to. I think it affects it a little bit, but I've been shooting real well at practice and before practice."
Did all the fresh ink he added to his arms before the season throw him off at all?
"Definitely not," he joked, responding to the long-shot question.
What about the new diet? Does he not get the same fuel now that he used to from his favorite treats at McDonald's?
"If I was eating McDonald's, I think I'd be passed out right now on the court," Adams quipped.
No, sports fans. There's nothing new to uncover.
"I've just got to transfer them to a game now," he said of the bevy of shots he drills in practice. "In our gym, before practice, I hit 15 or 20 shots in a row, but come to a game, man, I miss seven, eight in a row."
It's just that this time, it's taking a bit longer to transfer.