Kansas University forward Wayne Simien's pain-filled 20-minute effort Wednesday against Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse has been described as "courageous" and "heroic."
Those words should be reserved for some of his childhood friends instead, says the sore-shouldered sophomore, who scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in the Jayhawks' 94-87 victory over the Buffaloes.
"I consider myself blessed. I've got guys I went to school with being deployed overseas," Simien, a Leavenworth native, said of pals who joined the military and are headed to the Middle East for a possible war with Iraq.
"In Leavenworth, if you are not into sports you usually do something with the military. Two or three guys are (KU) students, who came up on my block, guys I spent time on the basketball court with. I saw one of the guys on the street. I hadn't seen him in a while. He told me he was trying to have his last week of fun before getting deployed.
"To be in a position to go defend freedom, you don't want to ever take that for granted," Simien said. "I appreciate their effort and sacrifices they are making for our country and my freedom."
Simien's coaches and teammates appreciate his sacrifices in spending his free time rehabbing his shoulder.
Simien had two treatments on his right shoulder Thursday, will have more today and Saturday as he gears for Sunday's 3 p.m. showdown at Oklahoma.
"No question, full go for Oklahoma," said Simien, who dislocated the shoulder Jan. 4 and returned to action the past two games. "I'll get treatments, painkillers or what not. No question I'll be ready for Sunday."
KU coach Roy Williams isn't so sure, realizing it could be a game-day decision.
"He's just as likely to tweak that shoulder reaching for a pass. So, I don't really believe the 'physicalness' of the game is something that is going to deter Wayne from playing if he's healthy enough to play," Williams said.
"It may be Saturday before I even think about, 'Well, can he go?' I just think it's just something that we're just going to have to fight with and in June it will be a lot better."
Simien says he will undergo surgery in the offseason -- surgery that will keep him out of action about four months.
"They will not scope it this time," said Simien, who had arthroscopic surgery after his senior year of high school. "They will have to go in this one and tighten things (ligaments) up a little bit. They say I may lose the range of motion in the shoulder, but that only affects pitchers. I'm not on the Royals. Hopefully it won't affect me too much."
Simien wants to play this season, have surgery and go injury-free during the rest of what he hopes will be a productive career.
"That'd be that," he said. "Obviously basketball is important to me, but I'd like to have two limbs to play with my kids to show them how to play basketball. Right now I'm young and basketball is my focus. I'm trying to accomplish some goals and dreams in basketball."¢
Hold him out?: Simien wants to play and play now. Some have wondered if it'd be smarter to save the 6-foot-9, 255-pounder for the NCAA Tournament.
"If he can put up 21 and 13, I'd rather have him in the tournament. Performances like that, you want to save them as much as possible," sophomore Keith Langford said.
"If we can get wins now and Wayne can continue to be healthy ... me, personally, I would just hold him out for the big games like Sunday, the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA Tournament. But if Wayne doesn't play last night the outcome might be different."¢
Gooden dealt: KU coach Roy Williams wasn't surprised former Jayhawk Drew Gooden was traded Wednesday from Memphis to Orlando.
"I'd spoken with both parties over the last week to 10 days," Williams said. "I think there was just an overload of frontcourt players at Memphis and trying to find a niche where Drew would be able to fit in and use his abilities to the highest level, I think, was something that was hard."¢
UCLA talk bothers coach: UCLA coach Steve Lavin on Tuesday had coach Roy Williams as one of five candidates to replace him at season's end when Lavin will be fired.
How does Williams respond to that?
"I don't," Williams said at Thursday's weekly news conference. "Somebody said (Williams' name) was first. The one I saw it was fifth. I can read. One name, two names, three names, four names, five names. The name was fifth in the one I saw."
Indeed, Lavin on Tuesday listed Ben Howland, Mark Few, Bob Williams, Pat Douglass and Roy Williams in that order.
"As I said last week, I've got a team to coach and their team has a coach," Williams said.
A radio reporter Thursday started to ask Williams to respond to the fact he rarely mentions Kansas AD Al Bohl by name in the press.
A miffed Williams interrupted mid-question and said, "Listen, I said last week I'm not talking about it. I'm talking about my team. I'm not talking about that stuff. That got so daggum much attention it created problems for me. I'm not going to do it anymore."¢
All district: KU's Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich have been named to the NABC District 12 team. They are joined by Oklahoma's Hollis Price, Creighton's Kyle Korver and Missouri's Arthur Johnson. They are now eligible for the NABC Division I All-American Team, which will be announced after the season.