Wayne Simien isn't into "Bracketology" Â the science of studying and predicting the outcome of NCAA Tournament games.
"I've never really gotten into filling out brackets," said Simien, Kansas University's freshman power forward from Leavenworth.
"Sometimes in the past my parents would bring something home from work and I always would have Kansas filled in at the end. Maybe some other people when they saw the seedings would pick teams besides Kansas. I'd always have Kansas winning at the end. No matter what, KU would always get that last victory."
Simien, it has been well chronicled, has been a Jayhawk fan as long as he can remember.
"In '88 I was young, but I remember the hype from that year," said the 19-year-old Simien, just 5 when the Jayhawks beat Oklahoma in the NCAA title game in Kansas City's Kemper Arena. "I followed Rex Walters and Mark Randall when they made the Final Four (1991). That's when I really started watching."
Simien watched with interest a year ago as Kansas beat Cal State-Northridge and Syracuse in the first and second rounds, then fell to Illinois, 80-64, in the Sweet 16.
"You definitely wish you could be in there. While I was watching the game (against Illinois), I was thinking about what I would do if I was in the game so some day I'd be ready," Simien said.
Some day is now as Simien will be a key reserve for the Jayhawks in the 2002 tournament. KU will meet Holy Cross in a Midwest Regional contest at 6:50 p.m. Thursday in St. Louis.
"I am really excited about my first tournament," Simien said. "I think all the freshman are ready," he said of himself and regular players in the rotation Keith Langford and Aaron Miles.
Fort Worth, Texas, native Langford, like Simien, watched the tourney on TV last March.
"I followed them (the Jayhawks) pretty closely since I knew I was coming here," Langford said. "I wanted them to go all the way. After they lost, I felt bad for the seniors and other guys who played on the team. They put in so much time and hard work. But you still look forward to the next year when I'd be in uniform."
Like Simien, Langford didn't spend a lot of time poring over tourney brackets.
"My coach (at North Crowley High) would do a little pool. Everybody would fill out a bracket," Langford said. "I remember slipping out between classes to try to go watch some of the games in the library. When I was young, I never was too excited about one team. I didn't have just one team I was cheering for. I just liked the competitiveness, watching people on TV and the different stories."
Langford says the Jayhawk freshmen need to step it up in the postseason.
"Like coach said, we are not freshmen any more," Langford said. "We can't make dumb plays. We've got to play like we've been there before."
Frosh point guard Miles thinks that is possible.
"At this stage of the year you are not a freshman," Miles indicated. "I think we all will be there when called on. I know our capabilities. We are capable of playing well in the tournament. It's the most fun time of year."Â
Boschee re-sprains ankle: KU guard Jeff Boschee re-sprained his tender left ankle during Tuesday's practice at Allen Fieldhouse.
Boschee likely will be able to practice today with the ankle heavily taped.
"Maybe something's in the water. Boschee sprained his ankle again today. You probably saw him limping when he came in (the hotel)," KU coach Roy Williams told reporters after arriving at the team hotel Tuesday night in St. Louis. "I don't think it's going to be a huge thing. We'll be careful with him tomorrow so we make sure we have him on Thursday. For sure it's not anything you want, but it's part of the game."Â
TCU interested in KU aide: KU assistant Neil Dougherty flew to Dallas this week to talk to TCU officials about the men's basketball opening.
"I would not classify it as a formal interview," Dougherty said. "I don't know how they see it. I do know they want me to meet some people. I'd say this is kind of a feeling-out process on both sides to see if we want to pursue it further."
Wyoming coach Steve McClain and Gonzaga's Mark Few have been mentioned as possible candidates to replace Billy Tubbs at TCU.Â
Visualization technique: Williams asked the Jayhawks for their complete attention in the locker room before Monday's practice.
The teacher/coach had his players complete a mental exercise.
"After we watched the tape (of Sunday's loss to Oklahoma) and went over the mistakes, I said, 'Close your eyes, and try to take yourself back to Oct. 15. Pretend you are sitting there. Try to visualize yourself in a room waiting for the selection show and they come out and say you are a No. 1 seed. You've got to feel great about what you accomplished.'"Â
Spitting a possibility: Williams is still pondering doing something wacky in St. Louis like spitting in the Mississippi River.
"I'm trying to think of something," the coach said. "I'll tell you one thing. I want to do something that our kids will laugh at. And whether it's laughing at me or how silly I am or something ... this team has been a great deal of fun for me and I want them to have fun as we go along."
KU will practice today at the Jones Dome from 5 to 5:50 p.m.