"Uh, thanks, Alvan."
Watching him on the floor you might wonder what sort of juice Alvan Adams runs on. Perhaps he is an escapee from Westworld, or made by Mattel. He never shows any emotion; he didn't even after he suffered the broken wrist against Missouri last February. Earlier in that game he had been knocked unconscious. Opponents always double-team him, and frequently he looks like a statue with pigeons roosting on it.
Adams' demeanor, like Biles', is so low-key that other teams must feel an urge to check his pulse. "If he has any weakness, it's that he finds the competition too boring at times," says Joe Ramsey, who stepped in as OU coach after Lester Lane suffered a fatal heart attack in September.
Against Oklahoma City last Friday Adams' modulation was set at such a low pitch that he took only one shot in the game's first 11 minutes.
"I just wasn't ready for the game," Alvan admitted. "Riding down here on the bus I noticed that I wasn't nervous about anything." A few nights before, in an exhibition game with Yugoslavia's touring national team, Adams scored 30 points against Kresimir Cosic, an outstanding player during his college career at Brigham Young.
Frequently Adams is downfloor to finish off the fast break, and against Oklahoma City his defensive timing was so sharp that he blocked several shots. Like Biles, Adams is a pure shooter. In high school he hit 72% of his shots, the kind of statistic that reads as if the player were shooting practice layups.
Adams, with the coordination and grace of a sprinter, is a highly versatile athlete. He was on his high school tennis team and was engrossed in baseball until he grew too tall to bend over for ground balls. He plays golf, is a movie fanatic—favoring Clint Eastwood Westerns—likes soft rock music in the fashion of Cat Stevens, dabbles in magic and card tricks and has a 3.5 academic average coupled with an aversion to studying. "I'm not a brain," he protests. "I can just cram and memorize better than most people." His biggest abnormality is that he wears a size 17 sneaker on one foot, a size 16 on the other.
When Adams arrived at Oklahoma, his big ambition was to make the varsity as a freshman. So he wound up the team's leading scorer and rebounder in all but four games, and Oklahoma finished at 18-8. There is a new basketball arena under construction to replace the dismal 4,700-seat current facility (using Adams in the OU Old Field House is like displaying a diamond in a brass setting) and the Sooners are talking about chances for their first Big Eight basketball title.
With Willie Biles, Tulsa also is thinking big. Last year he was the first Missouri Valley Conference player in 13 years to average more than 30 points, hitting at a 44-per-game clip in the final six games. Before Oklahoma State last week, Biles guessed that with the addition of junior college transfers Zack Jones and Grasshopper Smith, plus the return of All-Conference Center Sammy High, he would not have to score as much.
Biles' new concept of himself did not do much for the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa came to town swaggering and ready for a big victory and went away chagrined. The ignominious performance was best characterized by their statistics from the free-throw line: four for 15. "I felt so bad shooting the ball that I almost wished I wouldn't have been open so much," Biles moaned.