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Friday, December 12, 2003
Self bans senior for 'irresponsibility'

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas will enter Saturday's game against Oregon in Kansas City down two players who were key reserves in last year's national title game run.

One is hurt (Michael Lee) and the other is now indefinitely suspended (Jeff Graves).

Kansas coach Bill Self announced Friday that Graves is suspended for his irresponsibility and lack of respect for the basketball program.

Self told ESPN.com that he suspended Graves because he did not show up for practice Friday and that was essentially the last straw.

"As of now, Jeff's status for the remainder of the year is undetermined," Self said in a release issued by the school. "There must be serious effort on his part to warrant his return to the basketball program."

Graves isn't going to meetings on time, and his work ethic has dropped significantly. He has become a disruption and the suspension, apparently, has nothing to do with any legal or academic issues.

Graves won't be on the bench against the Ducks and didn't practice Friday. His status will be re-evaluated next week when Self visits with Graves to see if his attitude changed.

Graves, a 6-9 senior forward, has played in all five of Kansas' games this year, averaging 3.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 15.2 minutes a game. He averaged 6.0 points and 6.8 rebounds a game in 19.9 minutes last year under former Jayhawk coach Roy Williams.

The timing of Graves' suspension isn't good with junior forward Wayne Simien ailing. Simien has a groin injury but Self said Friday that Simien practiced at 80 percent and will start against the Ducks, who also are without a player in starting center Mitch Platt (ankle sprain).

Self said he would start freshman David Padgett next to Simien and bring Moulaye Niang, Bryant Nash and walk-on Christian Moody off the bench as frontcourt reserves. None of those three are traditional low-post players like Graves.

Meanwhile, Lee continues to rehab his broken collarbone and he won't return until the Big 12 opener at Colorado on Jan. 5, at the earliest, according to Self.