UNLV BASKETBALL:

Former UNLV assistant feels mixed emotions in return as TCU aide

Feeling the Pressure

With post-season hopes looming, UNLV used a full-court press and a 23-2 run to help avenge a January loss to TCU by beating the Horned Frogs 71-57 Tuesday night.

UNLV vs. TCU

The UNLV defense presses TCU as UNLV took on the TCU Horned Frogs Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

TCU POSTGAME: The press and the enigma

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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 71-57 defeat of TCU, which involved the smaller Rebels lineup applying staunch defensive pressure on the inexperienced Horned Frogs. The guys also dissect one of Wink Adams' steadier performances of the year, the enigma known as Tre'Von Willis and what's up next for Lon Kruger's 18-6 ball club.

Box score

Beyond the Sun

The reality of being back in the Thomas & Mack Center didn't kick in for TCU assistant coach Bill Wuczynski until the lights went down and the fireworks started going off.

"I didn't get choked up emotional, but I got the goose bumps, and I felt what it's like to be a Rebel," the first-year Horned Frogs aide and 1996 UNLV grad said. "It's my alma mater, and I root for them."

He did clarify, however, that rooting for the Rebels when they face the Horned Frogs is obviously off-limits, making this his first trip to the Mack in which he had to temper his loyalties.

Wuczynski spent seven seasons working with the UNLV program back in the mid-to-late 90s. He went from student assistant to both Director of Basketball Operations and then assistant coach under Bill Bayno and eventual interim head coach Max Good.

Once Bayno and Good both were gone, his career path took him from Loyola University-Chicago to Florida International and now, obviously, to TCU.

Still, a trip back to Las Vegas as a foe was cause for some reflection on his still-young coaching career.

"(The program) was in bad shape when we got the job," said Wuczynski, who was part of UNLV teams that went to two NCAA Tournaments and earned a pair of NIT berths in his time on the bench. "Coach Bayno and coach Good have been tremendous for me. They gave me my start. I still talk to coach Bayno at least once a month, coach Good at least once a week."

Bayno and Good have made headlines in the college hoops scene out West in recent months, with Bayno taking a leave of absence and then ultimately resigning during his first season at Loyola Marymount. Good took over as the head coach of the Lions, who are currently 1-23 overall and 0-8 in the West Coast Conference.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Wuczynski said. "Coach (Bayno) is so passionate about his job and getting kids better. When he does something, he does it full speed and he gets tremendously focused on winning and getting guys better, and he has a hard time maybe separating sometimes. It's still a game and they're young kids and he has a hard time taking a step back.

"I love him like a brother. And I know coach Good got the job and deservingly so. He's gonna do unbelievable at LMU. He really is."

Well wishes are great, but Wuczynski has his own project to deal with, as first-year coach Jim Christian's Horned Frogs are trying to work out of a downward spiral.

Since a 4-1 start in Mountain West play, including a Jan. 10 home upset of UNLV, TCU's now lost five in a row, counting Wednesday's 71-57 loss to the Rebels. The defeat knocked the Horned Frogs down to 13-11 overall.

On Wednesday, TCU's young and inexperienced roster showed how green it truly is.

The Horned Frogs committed 27 turnovers and stumbled to regain their footing after allowing UNLV to rip off a 23-2 run throughout the middle portion of the first half.

"We're so young and we have seven new kids," he said. "The effort level today was tremendous. Turnovers killed us, and give credit to coach Kruger and UNLV, because they came at us.

"I think the biggest thing is just to make sure our kids maintain the focus level on how to win, because they don't know how to win. Even the returners, they haven't won enough to get a feel on how to do it. We've gotta lose the five- or six-minute drought or the turnovers, like tonight. It's just experience."

Inexperience killed TCU, but so did Wink Adams, who was a completely different player than the one who showed up in Fort Worth on Jan. 10, still coming off of an abdominal strain suffered two days before Christmas.

Adams scored a game-high 21 points in one of his more efficient performances of the season.

Wuczynski, whether he could pull for him or not as a proud UNLV alum, couldn't help but be impressed.

"That was the Wink of last year," he said. "What we saw at TCU, he was coming off the abdominal strain. We knew he was better than that. We just didn't know he was that good."

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