MANHATTAN — Mike McGuirl still isn't sure exactly how it happened or when. Beyond telling him that he had a concussion, Kansas State's training staff did not shed much light on the situation.
On the contrary, they literally kept him in the dark for a week.
"I was playing at Texas (Jan. 11) and my head was hurting, (but) I didn't think anything of it," said McGuirl, K-State's junior guard. "After the game I told the trainer, Luke (Sauber), and the next day he did some tests.
"I didn't do so well on the tests, and that's really all I know. Luke had me isolated at home."
The recovery kept McGuirl, who had started all season, out of the lineup for three games — a loss to Texas Tech and an impressive victory over West Virginia, both at home, and a disappointing showing the following Tuesday at Kansas.
But since returning to the lineup last Saturday at Alabama, McGuirl has been a bright light for the inconsistent Wildcats. He played 30 minutes, scoring seven points with four assists in the 77-74 Big 12/SEC Challenge loss to the Crimson Tide, then Wednesday led the team in scoring with 16 points as the Wildcats knocked off Oklahoma, 71-63, at Bramlage Coliseum.
McGuirl said the time off didn't so much rekindle a flame in him as much as it made him appreciate what he had.
"Not as much of a fire, just I really wanted to go out and have fun," said McGuirl, whose five free throws in the last 17 seconds thwarted a last-minute Oklahoma rally and helped preserve the Wildcats' second Big 12 victory. "I'm ending my junior year. I've only got one more year after this and it's not much time left.
"I'm blessed to be in the position I am and I just want to make the most of it and have fun and do whatever it takes to try to help the team win, because that's what we're going to look back on."
That point was driven home last weekend with the tragic death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.
"It was something that was hard for me to process," McGuirl said. "It made me think, just have fun, enjoy every day, make the most out of it because you never know when it's going to be your last day.
"So I've really just been trying to have fun, enjoy myself. Enjoy the game, enjoy teammates, coaches, everybody."
K-State coach Bruce Weber, for one, is relieved to have McGuirl back on the court.
"One, he's our best shooter, if you look at our stats for the season, so that obviously helps," Weber said of McGuirl's team-best 48.1% 3-point accuracy. "He has been one of our better defenders, so you've got some versatility on both those things.
"I'm just happy for him, because he literally sat in the dark for six, seven days. It's hard. It's no fun."
McGuirl is just glad to be back.
"Today I made some shots," he said. "The next game it might be defense or rebounds or something else, but it was fun."