UNLV BASKETBALL:

Adams trying to work out of ‘serious slump’

An Unfamiliar Feeling

For the first time in nearly three decades, the Rebels lose back-to-back games on back-to-back days at home. Following a dominating win by California over UNLV on Friday, the Bearcats of Cincinnati bested the Rebels 67-65 Saturday.

UNLV vs. Cincinnati

Wink Adams lays it up and over the Cincinnati defense Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

CINCINNATI POSTGAME: Slumpin' Wink, Smokin' Joe, Rebels set to hit the road

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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss what was a somewhat surprising 0-2 weekend for UNLV in the Global Sports Classic, which was capped with a 67-65 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday night. The guys talk about Wink Adams' slump, Joe Darger's hot hand, Tre'Von Willis' emerging leadership, Cincy's post domination and what's next for the Rebels.

It's one thing for coaches and teammates to tell Wink Adams, 'Hey, just keep shooting, you'll snap out of it.'

But it's a different feeling in the shoes of UNLV's senior guard, who after hitting just two of his 11 shots in Saturday's 67-65 loss to Cincinnati in the Global Sports Classic went a combined 5-of-25 from the floor over the weekend.

"Teammates always tell me to keep shooting during the games, but I definitely don't want to keep shooting during the games if I'm not hitting," Adams said following a five-point performance at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"If I'm missing, then my strength is to try to make the defense collapse and get Joe (Darger) or Kendall (Wallace), or some of those guys, open shots, which I did tonight."

Adams did finish with a pair of assists and seven defensive rebounds in 34 minutes. But in the final 9 minutes, 48 seconds, it was mostly the senior Darger and sophomore point guard Tre'Von Willis who took control on offense.

In that stretch, the only shot Adams hoisted was off a designed drive to the hoop with nine seconds left. With UNLV trailing by two points, Adams earned a trip to the free-throw line. He missed the first but nailed the second to cut the Rebels’ deficit to 65-64.

Adams' gritty style has always netted him a relatively modest field-goal percentage. Even though he is the school's 14th all-time leading scorer, he entered this season a career 40.4 percent shooter. Through seven games, he's firing at a 34.1 percent clip.

That first free throw, which barely hit the front of the rim, was what stung the most for Adams, who hit 84.8 percent of his charities a year ago. So far this season, he's shooting 73.7 percent at the line.

When you're slumpin', you're slumpin' from everywhere.

"Very frustrating — this is one serious slump," said Adams, standing straight and not shying away from questions regarding his recent struggles. "I've never been in a slump like this. A lot of the shots I was missing, going to the free-throw line in the clutch, that's definitely not me.

"Oh man, it surprised me. It left my fingers, it felt pretty good, but it came a bit short. I knew I had to hit the second one. Coach called a timeout, we had a great chance to foul, had a lot of time on the clock ... next time I've definitely got to knock those down."

Adams' missed free throw wasn't UNLV's lone chance to get even with the Bearcats in the closing moments. Darris Santee also missed a pair of free throws just before Adams' turn at the line.

But Adams' miss sticks out because of his established efficiency on foul shots.

The law of averages would suggest that a player as productive on the offensive end as Adams will ultimately snap out of it. That doesn't make it any easier for the Houston native to let soak in.

Teammates can sympathize, too. One in particular is Darger, who had not found a consistent 3-point stroke this season until he connected on six attempts from deep Saturday night.

"It's frustrating when you go through a slump like that," Darger said. "I think we've all been through them. I think I was in one for a while. It's frustrating because you spend a lot of time getting extra shots after practice, and doing a lot of extra things. It kind of makes it worse.

"I think every game someone else is gonna step up and play well, but it's definitely not good to have wink in a slump. He's such a huge part of our team and our offense, we just need to get him back."

Still, with as hot as Darger had been throughout the second half and how successfully aggressive Willis had played with four fouls to his credit, teammates agreed that Adams was the one whose hands they wanted the ball in given the crucial situation.

"We definitely wanted Wink with the ball," said René Rougeau. "Even though he was struggling all game, he got to the free-throw line. It just didn't fall for him. That's just how it goes sometimes."

Added Lon Kruger: "That was the first look, to attack the rim if he had the opportunity. If not, he had some other options behind it, but that was the first look. Wink will bounce out of it. He's got to be aggressive for us, we need him to keep attacking, need him to do the things he's capable of doing, and he'll bounce back and do that, no doubt about that."

Adams might be hesitant to try too hard during games to break out of the funk, but that's what practice is for, he said. He added that, at the latest, he'll be in the gym by Sunday morning hoisting up jumper after jumper.

It's not completely his call, either. Reandre Adams, his mother, who is known as “Mama Wink” throughout Houston, visited this weekend to watch Wink play against Cal on Friday and Cincinnati on Saturday.

"She'll definitely have me in the gym shooting tomorrow," Wink Adams said. "I'm ready for it. She's gonna interview me all night tonight. Hopefully before she leaves, I can shoot it out. She's been doing it since I've been playing basketball.

“If I miss a lot of shots, she'll tell me I'm just in a slump. She'll take me to the gym, do a couple things and just shoot it out, so it's a good thing she's here.”

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  1. Oh no, they have lost 2 games in November. Lenny, the sky is falling. Give me a break. This is not going to make or break the season. Let this serve as a wake up call.

  2. I kind of agree with Lenny. As for going to the tourney as an at-large...the Rebels have dug themselves into a HUGE hole AND have a LONG ways to go at his point. Both of the teams that just beat us AT HOME will proably not sniff the NCAA tournament. Sad thing is, I don't think those wins were fluke wins. It just shows were this team is really at. Cal may be a bubble team, but Cincy will finish bottom half of their conf.

    Just look at what we have and what is in front of you. There are a lot of remaining teams on the schedule that can and probably will beat us. We'll probably have 2-3 more losses in the OOC, and we'll be lucky to play .500 on the road in conference play. Even the last two years we have struggled to have winning records on the road in conference play. So, the way I see it, with at least 2 more losses coming in OOC and an 11-5 or 10-6 conf record, that puts us at 9-10 losses. That will be 9-10 losses without any quality wins (unless you count beating a 'March-time of a joke BYU squad' at home as a quality win).

    We've seen a shift in "potential" from a hopeful Sweet 16 team to a bubble team overnight. I know a lot of us were hoping that we would reutrn to the NCAA tournament AND win. Winning an NCAA tournament game this year would be even more shocking than the win we posted last year with our favorable draw. Reality is setting in. Some people will choose to ignore it though until we mathmatically play our way off the bubble. That's is assuming we reach our newfound "potential" of becoming a bubble team. That new potential will be 9-10 losses with few quality wins (unless you count beating a 'March-time of a joke BYU squad' at home as a quality win). We will probably need to win the tournament just to get in as a 12 seed. Of course, that is all pending that we improve at the rate during the season that we have the last couple of seasons. If we don't improve and reach our potential, we're probably 17-14 and a CBI squad (that's the new post-season tournament that takes the NIT leftovers).

    It's hillarious that people still think that we are still going to be a 6-7 loss team going into the NCAAs and take care of business. We've seen a shift in "potential" from a Sweet 16 team to a bubble team overnight. I know a lot of us were hoping that we would reutrn to the NCAA tournament and win. Reality is setting in. Take off the scarlet-colored goggles Rebel fans and look at what is in front of you. Some will choose to ignore it though until we mathmatically play our way off the bubble.

    Remember Rebel fans, November games count too!

  3. Man that was long dude, and repetitive. Interesting forecast, but there are plenty of opportunites left in non-conference play. Make an evaluation on 1/4. Yes, they could get waxed at Freedom Hall, but they have a chance.

    So they're not top-25 material right now. So what. I am just as frustrated and disappointed as the next die-hard fan as I had high hopes for the beginning of the season as well. But, so are the Rebels.

    Rather have some adversity in the beginning than running the table and getting plucked in the first round of the tourney on a 5-12 seed matchup, or worse 2-14 like UConn/USD last year.

    Work The Process; stay the course. This is going to toughen them up.

  4. I sat very close to the floor last night and watched Wink closely. He has a hitch in his shot. Very obvious and it is just something he has to be aware of and correct.

    It is disappointing to say, but this season really is already shot because of these two losses. I know it is early, and I know we have historically had two losses early every year in the Kruger era, but, like Lenny said above, these have damaged our chances at a good seed.

    There is only one chance left in the non-conference to make it up and turn it around and that would be a win at Louisville. A win there and a conference championship would make these losses a distant memory.

    However you need sustained winning streaks and style points to get the kind of seed necessary to make a deep run.

    At best, with the scenario above, we could get a 5 seed and at worst we are in the 8-9 game again. Assuming we are able to make the tournament which is a BIG question mark at this point.

    This team has shown a lot of warning signs and a lot of weaknesses that cast doubt over the entire season. We will be fine because the MWC is not very strong this year, but:

    DIDN'T WE ALL EXPECT MORE THAN THE SAME TYPE OF SEASON WE HAVE HAD THE LAST TWO YEARS WITH A VETERAN, SENIOR LADEN TEAM?

    I know I did and that is why I am so disappointed right now. We are on track to have the same season we have had the last two years. Start out slow, lose to all the "name" teams on our non-conference slate, then gel for conference and finish second in the conference, win the conference tournament, get a 7-8-9 seed, win the first game then get rolled out of the tourney in round two unless we face a team whose best player gets injured (Wisconsin 2007).

    Shouldn't a program that has won a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP and has an elite coach do better than that? Or am I just being "unrealistic"?

  5. First of all Wisconsin had there best player in that game. His name was Alando Tucker and he was a first team All-American. The player that was injured was Brian Butch and he was a role player at best. If 57 wins in the regular season and 3 wins in the NCAA Tournament in the past two seasons is not enough your expectations may be a little high. This season will be the 19th since UNLV won the NC. It took Kansas 20 seasons to win there next one and believe they were in a little better situation program wise than UNLV was.

  6. Look, Lon just admitted it on Game Time With UNLV Hoops: The players got weighed down by the high expectations and hype from fans, media, etc. You know what? We haven't had a buzz like this in a loooong time, so we got drunk off the punch because honestly we haven't had the brew in YEARS. That's nobody's fault.

    But -- it is what it is. We're going to have to back-door our way into the tourney like the last two seasons and then make noise. As long as we go and WIN, that's what counts. The Tark-esque high tourney seeds and crushing non-conference play with deep tourney runs will just take more time. That's it.

  7. Ok people, look, this team will be a good team by the season's end, not a great team, but a good team. Everyone is overlooking the fact that everybody, including myself, was expecting our 7 foot center Hamga to be a stud this year. For whatever reason, his development is behind schedule. We have no inside game, period. Sound familiar? This team is going to have to scrap for their victories, and I believe these guys will do just that. Remember, you have 3 senior starters who have been a part of 2 overachieving teams that went further than any of us expected. Time to get back to the basics, and start playing the defense that got us to the tourney the last two years.

    I do believe this team is capable of clamping down on defense and gritting out another tournament berth. On the same token, this team could struggle to win 20 games this season. We have been an overachieving team the last two seasons. We have not had the most talented teams. Make no bones about it, BYU is the best team in the Mountain West this year. They are loaded from top to bottom.

    This next week will tell alot about the composure of this Rebel team. They must absolutely win these next two games at Fresno and Reno. Reno is off to a shaky start, and I think we will beat them on the road. If we can get on a roll and go out to Louisville and give them hell, an "honorable" loss, we will be on track going into conference. If we struggle in these next 6 games, it is going to be a long season for us diehard fans.

  8. Could've been worse. At least we weren't ranked number 3 in the country while getting smacked by 14 to an unranked team in our third game of the season.

    Runnin' Rebels will prevail!!

  9. Brian Butch was not Wisconsin's best player. Plus, he had been cleared medically and there was speculation that he would even play in their FIRST round game.

    Bo Ryan thought he could get away with resting him one more game because they could walk through UNLV easily.

    But good job attempting to discredit UNLV's biggest win in almost two decades. The Rebels are lucky to have such great fans.