Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2005

KU’s Simien earns Big 12 player-of-week honors

January 18, 2005


Wayne Simien is starting to grow fond of the homemade cast stuck on his left thumb.

"It's new and innovative, man. Maybe I should put a patent on it," Simien, Kansas University's senior forward, joked Monday after being named the Big 12 Conference's player of the week.

He scored 23 points and grabbed 17 rebounds Saturday at Colorado and 13 points and nine boards Wednesday at Iowa State in his first two games back from surgery.

The cast, which doctors told him to wear at least two more weeks during an encouraging checkup Monday, changes from game to game.

"It was a lot bulkier in the Colorado game than the Iowa State game," Simien said, noting the lead official at CU demanded additional padding in the Nike glove that covers the cast.

"Different officials have different likings to the cast. It's been tougher to catch and finish in traffic and hold onto the ball, especially Saturday with the extra padding," he added.

KU coach Bill Self, who has marveled at how his All-America candidate is playing "with 11/2 hands," said there's no danger an official could deem Simien's cast too unsafe to use.

"We've done our research. That will not happen," Self said, noting the cast was "no harder than a knuckle. There may be a possibility they say, 'Can you put more padding in an area?'"

Simien's cast is similar to one worn by former Missouri player Kareem Rush. In fact, the Jayhawks consulted the Tigers' doctors.

Simien was asked Monday how many rebounds he would have had Saturday with two good hands.

"Maybe 20, it's hard to say," said Simien, who tied a career high with 17 against the Buffaloes.

Point guard Aaron Miles connected with the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Simien on an alley-oop pass versus the Buffs.

"I didn't wonder if he'd catch it," Miles said. "I was wondering if he was going to be in any pain (after dunking)."

Simien -- he survived the dunk unscathed -- thanked his teammates while accepting the league award for the second time this season, and fourth time in four years.

"The way I see it is Kansas is the Big 12 team of the week," Simien said.

  • Response to Weber: Illinois coach Bruce Weber recently said he was much tougher on the Illini players their former coach, KU's Self.

"He was the (Illini players') buddy. He told them how good they were," Weber said.

Self answered: "My only response is Bruce has said several things since he's become head coach if I was thin-skinned I could take personally. But I don't take that personally at all because he wasn't there at the time," Self said. "All those players know how I coached them."

  • New guard: Rodrick Stewart, KU's 6-foot-31/2 transfer from Southern California, has practiced with the Jayhawks for a week.

"Great athlete, great instincts with good ball skills. He's versatile enough to play any perimeter spot," Self said of the Seattle native, who will be eligible to play in games as a second semester sophomore in December.

Stewart will play more shooting guard and small forward than point guard, which he played at USC.

"He's big enough to guard a three and quick enough to guard a one," said Self, who likes the fact Stewart will practice the rest of this season and stay here this summer.

"My concern in recruiting is next year's team because we potentially will be young," Self said. "Who could you recruit who would know what you are trying to do and has been in big games to make year's team better than a transfer?

"We need somebody like a Keith who can go get you a basket when you run bad offense, somebody who can keep it stirred up from an intensity standpoint."

Self said Stewart is a "great kid. He had to meet certain things academically before we'd consider taking him. He's in good academic standing."

  • Injury update: C.J. Giles has recovered from his recent bout with the flu. Christian Moody, who re-sprained his left ankle at Colorado "could be hit and miss the next week or so," Self said Monday night on his Hawk Talk radio show.

Moody didn't practice Monday.

Michael Lee said his banged up right shoulder "is fine. I'm 100 percent."

  • Undefeated season?: Can 13-0 KU actually win all its games?

"It's a goal of ours, actually," Lee said, "but not something you try to think about every day."

"I don't know if it's extra motivation we're still undefeated," Self said, "but guys are as confident as can be now."

  • Two-sport prospect: Martellus Bennett, a 6-7, 237-pound senior from Taylor High in Alief, Texas, is considering playing football and basketball at KU next year. The No. 1 tight end prospect in the country, who earlier committed to Miami, also likes Texas, Texas A&M; and Oklahoma for football.

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