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Sports

Gary Bedore’s KU basketball notebook

September 21, 2008

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Collison's team heads to OKC

Former Kansas University basketball standouts Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison attended Friday's ceremony in which members of the 2007-08 Jayhawks were presented their national title rings.

Collison said he had mixed emotions about his Seattle SuperSonics moving to Oklahoma City. In his five years in Seattle, Collison has grown fond of the great Pacific Northwest.

"I love Seattle. We'll continue to live there in the offseason," said the 6-foot-10, 255-pound former KU power forward.

He, wife, Robbie, and daughter, Emma, will be spending the bulk of the calendar year in OKC.

"It's going to be an adjustment," Collison said. "I'm excited to play there. I think the fans (who have already sold out Ford Center) will be great. Living there will be the adjustment. It's good to be closer to home, closer to here."

A fierce competitor who played for KU's 2002 and '03 Final Four teams, Collison hopes the loud home crowd will translate to OKC Thunder victories.

There are high hopes for a squad that brought in former Texas phenom Kevin Durant a year ago.

"We were 20-62 last year. We have a long way to go," Collison said. "I think they are setting our team up in the future the right way, to be a winner."

The 27-year-old Collison started 35 of 78 games a year ago. He averaged a career-best 9.8 points and 9.4 rebounds while logging 28.5 minutes a game.

"I don't know. I'm not sure how it'll work out," Collison said, asked if he'd be a starter or sixth man this season. "I started 30 some games last year, and we've got (6-10) Chris Wilcox back and (6-10) Joe Smith. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited to get started."

Nice jewelry

The recipients seemed unanimous in calling KU's rings "beautiful." The Balfour rings also are economical. The price of each NCAA title ring?

$299.

Lee back in town

First-year Gardner-Webb assistant coach Michael Lee, who was a graduate assistant on last year's title team, attended Friday's ceremony and Saturday's KU-Sam Houston State football game, where the Jayhawks were recognized at the end of the first quarter.

"I didn't want to miss this. I told my boss about it, and he said, 'Mike, you've got to go,''' Lee said of Gardner-Webb head coach Rick Scruggs.

"It's fun to see everybody and some of my old teammates."

Lee said he wouldn't be wearing his new title ring.

"I don't wear rings. I'll put it in a safe with all my other rings. If I wore it, I'd take it off and lose it," Lee said. "This means a whole bunch. It's something real special. I was part of a group that got close. We knocked on the door and never got it. Like coach Self said, it takes timing. Everything has to fall in place. It's no small feat. That team (last season) put everything together at the right time."

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