Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
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.
UNLV lost a player when freshman center Beas Hamga was granted his release from the program late last week.
It will likely gain one this week when senior walk-on Rob Ketchum dresses for Wednesday night’s game against Santa Clara at the Thomas & Mack Center. He will travel, too.
The Hamga and Ketchum moves are not related.
“Oh man, a dream come true,” said Ketchum, a 6-foot-5 forward from Sacramento who joined the Rebels as a walk-on during the 2007-08 season.
“It’s finally here. It’s been a long year and a half. Traveling, getting to know the team better on the road … it’s exciting.”
Ketchum did not travel to Australia for UNLV’s summer tour because he had work to do in the classroom.
Dave Jackson, Ketchum’s academic adviser, knew how many credits he needed to earn traveling status, and Ketchum said he was caught up with his academic responsibilities after finals last week.
Hang on, assistant coach Lew Hill told an exuberant Ketchum in a tunnel outside the UNLV locker room Sunday night at the Orleans Arena, it’s not a sure thing just yet.
Ketchum smiled and walked away. Hill, smiling, confirmed that it looks good for Ketchum.
Double figures rare for senior trio
Once again, the starting senior trio of Wink Adams, Joe Darger and Wink Adams that coach Lon Kruger depends on so much failed to each hit double figures in scoring.
In fact, they’ve done so only once, in an 87-71 victory over Northern Arizona at the Thomas & Mack Center.
In that one, Adams had 18, and Darger and Rougeau tallied 11 apiece.
With jammed middle fingers on their shooting hands, Darger (2-for-7, 8 points) and junior center Darris Santee (3-for-7, 7 points) didn’t threaten Western Michigan too much.
Darger, though, did grab six rebounds, dish out two assists and stole a pass. Santee was limited to 14 minutes. Both had their fingers wrapped around their index fingers with black tape.
Massamba filled in at center with 16 solid minutes off the bench.
A residual to Hamga’s departure is that Massamba will not have to worry about sharing time behind Santee.
Look for Massamba to thrive in that role, especially with Kruger having the confidence in Massamba to play him late in Sunday’s game, until he went with his sure-handed smaller lineup to close it out.
A 7-foot absence
Even though Hamga had hardly cracked the rotation this season, his former teammates admitted that his absence was felt on the bench Sunday.
“It definitely feels a lot different without Beas, and just seeing him all the time, talking to him,” Adams said. “A couple of the guys on the team still talk to him, and he’s always gonna be a friend to us.”
Back in the (smelly) Mack
UNLV’s return to the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night, against Santa Clara, comes on the heels of the National Finals Rodeo departing from the Rebels’ home.
But the players don’t expect the rodeo’s presence to disappear overnight.
Or at least the smell.
“That could probably take a month, to be honest with you,” Rougeau said.
UNLV hasn’t played in the Mack since a 67-65 loss to Cincinnati on Nov. 30.
“For these last two weeks, all we’ve been seeing are bulls and smelling manure,” Adams said. “Just to play on that court again is gonna feel good.”
Transfers Chace Stanback and Steve “Chopper” Jones continued to set themselves apart from their fellow UNLV players who dress in street clothes for games.
Injured players, redshirts and/or transfers don’t dress for games, and Stanback went into Sunday’s game with three “wardrobe” victories on the season. Jones had two and Matt Shaw one.
Sunday was tough. Stanback wore a lavender dress shirt and slick complementary tie, and Jones wore a beige shirt with a black-and-silver tie. Both wore dark slacks and dress shoes.
Couldn’t tell, but Jones might have worn his tie in a spiffy double-Windsor knot. Stanback’s shade was daring. “It isn’t even Easter,” said a fan.
Maybe too daring. French cuffs and links would have separated Stanback from Chopper. Plus, Chopper kept his sharply tucked in.
(For the cheerleaders right in front of you. Right, Chop?)
Stanback 3, Chopper 3, Shaw 1.
UNLV had a moment of silence before the game for former Rebels basketball player Chris Richardson, a member of the Harlem Globetrotters who passed away last week in Japan during the famous hoops troupe's tour of Asia.
UNLV has not allowed an opponent to shoot at least 50 percent from the field all season. Western Michigan made 44 percent of its shots. Three games ago, Fresno State shot 46.6 percent against the Rebels, the best marksmanship all season for a UNLV foe. Only Air Force (.618 at home), TCU (.540 in conference tournament) and Kansas (.580 in NCAA second rounder) accomplished that last season against the Rebels … UNLV beat Western Michigan in the paint (32-20) and in points off turnovers (21-10) … the Rebels have averaged only 11 turnovers in their past five games ... Arizona, which beat Gonzaga on Sunday, visits the Mack at noon Saturday … Southern Utah is the foe at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 23.