Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 | 2:10 a.m.
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.”