Dressed in the red, white and blue with USA on his chest and a bronze medal around his chest, junior guard Luke Adams is back at Texas Tech after his time in Sofia, Bulgaria, participating in the 2013 Deaflympics.
“It was a really good experience,” Adams said. “Just being overseas and dealing with that culture and just meeting all the other teams and all the other countries that played, it’s just something I’ll never forget. It’s a
lifetime experience. And obviously winning a medal, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Adams started every game for team USA.
In the final game of the round of pool play, Adams palyed 34 minutes and scored 20 points and had five rebounds, five steals and three assists in the 93-64 win over Russia, earning the No. 1 seed going into the exhibition round.
The next game, a 101-73 win over Argentina, Adams scored 11 points and had four steals and three boards.
Venezuela upset the defending champion USA with a 88-85 win.
Even though he fouled out with 6:40 left to play, Adams recorded 11 pounts.
In the bronze medal game against Ukraine, the Americans won 93-69, and Adams had seven points, six rebounds and seven assists.
Over the entire seven games in Sofia, Bulgaria, Adams averaged 10 points, 3.9 steals, 3.7 boads and 3.6 assists.
One difference for Adams during the Deaflympics was that he played without his hearing aids and cochlear implant.
“It was pretty different,” Adams said. “I can’t really explain it because I’ve always played with my implant and stuff. Just hearing the ref when they blow the whistle and then the ref would just wave his hands and everyone would keep playing and then everyone would kind of know. As the games went on, the third and fourth games were much easier to kind of get the flow of the game. It was kind of more of an instinct, I guess. It came more natural.”
Another change Adams had to adjust to was the 24-second shot clock.
In college, he’s used to playing with a 35-second shot clock.
“We were playing under different rules,” Adams said. “There was a 24-second shot clock. It was just such a completely different game. Just dealing with coaching and learning how to lead your team in 24 seconds, it was just different. I understand the NBA a little bit more because that’s 24 seconds and I appreciate 35 seconds in college. I learned a lot of things from it. It was a good journey.”
For Adams as the starting point guard throughout the games, it was important for him to be able to control the offense and communicate with his team.
“(I improved on) just being more of a point guard and leading my team and to help everyone relax,” Adams said. “Being on a team that’s all deaf and not knowing really how to communicate with them on the spot like right then so I had to learn sign language and learn to talk to them. The key thing was to keep everyone happy. When you play on a USA team or an all-star team, there’s guys that need the ball, and that’s what they do is score. That was kind of difficult to know who to get the ball to when I’ve only been with them a week. It was exciting.”
So, while other college athletes were busy practicing and hitting the weight room this summer, Adams was playing competitive ball overseas.
“It made the summer exciting,” Adams said. “It was different. We played against some guys that are pro overseas. There was a guy that guarded Kevin Durant. It was always cool just to meet other teams and their culture and take pictures with them and most importantly to fight for USA and have pride in that. That was probably the thing I enjoyed most was playing for the USA and representing Texas Tech.”
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