George Washington men's basketball coach Tom Penders said yesterday starting guard Mike King will not play in today's game against the North Carolina Charlotte 49ers because of a sprained shoulder and that he is unsure when King will return.

King, a 6-foot-4 junior, was injured in the Colonials' game Dec. 11 against Siena and has not practiced since. GW has played once since then, but plays Monday night at Old Dominion and opens Atlantic 10 Conference play Jan. 8 against Duquesne.

"I hope he'll back" for Monday night's game, Penders said. "But it's just one of those things. When he's able to practice and play, he will. He's rehabbing real hard, but it's very painful, and he can't shoot, dribble or pass. He's very frustrated. . . . It's just a matter of how much discomfort he can play with."

King is averaging 10.3 points and 4 rebounds per game, but in the Colonials' most recent game, nine days ago, they won at Clemson, 90-71. "Without him," Penders said, "we played our best game since I've been here, so when Mike gets back, it can only help us. . . . There are some guys who have been doing some stuff I didn't know they could do."

For example, 6-3 freshman Chris Monroe, who will start in King's place today, scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 34 minutes against Clemson.

Penders called Monroe's performance against Clemson "unbelievable" and added, "The only thing holding Chris from playing [entire games] is conditioning."

A broken nose and back problems have slowed that conditioning. Monroe hopes the Colonials are becoming more focused for longer stretches. They also have beaten Maryland, Seton Hall and Indiana State but lost to Bradley on the road and Siena at home.

"We got off Maryland and thought we'd go to Bradley and just run over 'em," Monroe said. "We didn't play with as much enthusiasm. We've got to learn to play every game as though it means something. . . . I think we're playing more as a team. The big men are getting more involved. We're executing better."

Still, there is an imbalance on offense. Freshman guard SirValiant Brown has scored 270 points over 10 games, but has taken 241 shots. That's 162 more shots than inside players Francisco de Miranda and Antxon Iturbe have taken together. Also, Brown is shooting just 32 percent from the field, including 24 percent on three-pointers.

"I'm not going to worry about Val Brown's 32 percent," Penders snapped. "Without him, we're 0-10. He's one of the top players in the country, regardless of age group."

The 49ers (6-5, but coming off three consecutive losses) are a veteran team that has made the NCAA tournament in each of the past three seasons and also routinely hoist three-pointers. Their 247 three-pointers made are 31 more than GW has shot.