Monday, June 14, 2010 | 2:15 a.m.
Editor's Note: Each week this summer, UNLV beat writer Ryan Greene will have a 10-minute question-and-answer session with a member of the Rebels' men's basketball team. The focus is not just on last season but also what lies ahead.
There's one thing that Kendall Wallace will always be able to bring to the table for the UNLV men's basketball team — a deadly ability from 3-point range.
As a junior, he was the Rebels' fifth-leading scorer (6.9 ppg) and led the team in 3-pointers made per game (1.8). His 61 treys made were by far a team-best. He also had a knack for using the trifecta to bail the Rebels out of some sticky situations, none more memorable than his seven connections from deep at New Mexico in a monster of a victory for UNLV in early January.
Aside from wanting to continue his overall development heading into his senior campaign, Wallace wants nothing more than to take UNLV deeper into the NCAA tournament, as he is the last remaining piece from the Rebels' 2007-08 team, which advanced to the tourney's second round.
Ryan Greene: You're the guy who's known for 3-point shooting on this team. That's not a secret. Looking back to last year, did you have a favorite 3-pointer that you made?
Kendall Wallace: Favorite 3-pointer that I made? I'd say either the last one against New Mexico, I had one against San Diego State or the one in the NCAA tournament. It's between those three.
RG: The one that a lot of people are probably going to remember is, well, the several against New Mexico. That day, you seemed to earn a lot more respect from opponents you faced after that. They already knew about your 3-point shooting ability, but after that they seemed to put more focus on it. Could you sense after that game that it wouldn't come to you like it was before?
KW: Well, I knew they were going to focus a little bit more on me after that game. But I just tried to stay out there and keep moving so it was tougher for them to guard me, tried to find the open spot while my teammates drove. I just had to work harder to get open.
RG: My seat there at the Mack is right by the opposing bench, and every time you check into a game, coaches will yell stuff at their teams, such as "Shooter, Shooter!" When you go out there, what's the strangest thing you've heard an opponent say to their teammates to alert them that you're on the floor?
KW: I hear just "Don't leave him." When my teammates penetrate, they don't want help defense. That's about it, really.
RG: It's got to be a nice ego boost, right?
KW: Yeah, it definitely gives you more confidence when you're going in. Knowing that they're focused on you, if you can hit open shots, it makes you feel pretty good.
RG: For younger people who will read this, I could obviously ask you what the key is to becoming a good 3-point shooter, and you could say hard work, repetition and all of that. But what's the secret that maybe people don't talk about much to becoming a good 3-point shooter and even a great one?
KW: It definitely comes down to practice. It does. You have to get the right form, get the shot down and it's got to be repetition and work in the gym. That gives you confidence going out on the floor that you've done it so many times and you're going to make it.
RG: So there's no little superstitious secrets or methods that you use?
KW: I just keep it to where you've got to be confident. You have to be taking good shots and thinking that the shot is going in. Even if you miss it, you're thinking the next one has got to go in. You need to have the right mindset, that's for sure, because it can be streaky at times.
RG: When you are the resident 3-point specialist, what do you work on during the summer? Is it all shooting, shooting and shooting? Do you stay away from it and try to develop other things?
KW: I always get my shooting in when I'm working out. I try to work on a few of my weaknesses. I work on getting my left hand better, work on driving and work on finishing. We're in there working on footwork, too, on the defensive end.
RG: Describe how pick-up games go for you? The brunt of what you guys do basketball-wise in the offseason it sounds like is pick-up ball. Is pick-up Kendall Wallace the same as regular season Kendall Wallace?
KW: It depends on the day, but sometimes in open gym you can work on the things you might not be as comfortable doing during games. I'm driving the ball a little more, I think, in open gym. I'm trying to show that I can still do that if I need to, so I've just got to keep working on it.
RG: You mentioned your left hand. Has that always been a thing for you?
KW: It hasn't been a problem, but I always like to work on it in the gym, because that can always improve. You've got to work on the things that are difficult, and that can sometimes be tough to do.
RG: Tell us a little something about yourself outside of basketball during the summer months? Obviously you play pick-ups every day, but what else do you have going on?
KW: Not a whole lot. I hang with friends and play a little golf here and there. I'm working, too. That's about all I do. Nothing too exciting.
RG: Are you a pretty good golfer?
KW: Decent golfer, I'd say. I'm about a 13 or 14 handicap. Not too bad. It gets a lot better at the end of the summer.
RG: Yeah, right when you don't have time to play much anymore.
KW: Yeah, right when we're back to basketball every day.
RG: So what you're saying is that when you're done with basketball, you're going to turn into a pretty good golfer?
KW: I hope so.
RG: Who do you typically play with?
KW: I normally play with (former UNLV walk-on guard) Scotty Hoffman and maybe a few of the baseball players.
RG: I know Scott says he's a pretty good golfer. Who's the better of the two?
KW: It depends. He's been playing five days a week for about a year now, so I wouldn't say it's real fair, but our last round, I'll just say, I shot an 82, while he shot an 84, or something like that. So. I'm going to stick to that.
RG: Is that something if we asked him about, he would lie?
KW: Um, yeah. I think he'd be a little upset with my answer, too. So, why bother? I'm sure he would definitely say he's better, though.
RG: Jumping back to basketball, let's talk about next season. There's a big senior class made up of several of your key contributors. It's something a little different than last year. So far this summer, can you sense that maybe those guys have a little more of a sense of urgency this summer than in the past, knowing that for more guys than before, this is it?
KW: Definitely. It will motivate you a lot. You want to work hard before your last year to make sure you're the best you can be. So we're all counting on each other to be ready for the season, and I think we've gotten better. This senior year already has a different feel to it.
RG: Was that lacking at all last year going into the NCAA tournament? The knowledge that, for most guys, this wouldn't be the end of the road? Do you think it's a nice intangible to have during the tournament?
KW: I feel that if you watch last year, watch that Northern Iowa team and they had a bunch of seniors. They wanted to get it done for their senior class and had a good run in the tournament. I think it will definitely have a different feel and make you want to play harder, but we're always going out there trying to win.
RG: Last question: Ideal ending for your senior season?
KW: To win the Mountain West, regular season would be great, but also the tournament after losing last year in the championship. Making a run in the NCAA tournament would be nice, but we have to work hard for that and we have to deserve every bit of that if we can make it there.