|Darren Collison to miss another 10 days for No. 2 UCLA|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 15 November 2007 16:32|
That means Collison will be watching from the bench again when the Bruins (3-0) play Maryland in the semifinals of the CBE Classic on Monday night in Kansas City. A victory would advance them to the final against either No. 12 Michgian State or Missouri.
Collison is working out, but he's not practicing with the team. He wore a knee brace for the first time Wednesday while doing drills, but doesn't feel confident pushing off on his left leg.
The junior injured his knee in UCLA's first preseason game on Nov. 2.
``I want to go out there and play so bad, but we have a long season,'' he said Thursday. ``I thought I was going to play Monday.''
Coach Ben Howland said Collison is not as far along as he had hoped.
``He's so winded right now. He didn't do anything for 10 days,'' he said. ``We're going to be very, very conservative and careful. I don't want anything to happen long-term with this.''
Russell Westbrook will make his fourth consecutive start in Collison's place. The sophomore guard is averaging 11 points, six assists and three turnovers in 29 minutes.
``Russell has got to come in and play composed, and he's got the confidence to do it,'' said freshman Kevin Love, who is averaging a team-leading 20.7 points and 10 rebounds.
Westbrook made one start last season, on the road at West Virginia. He was 1-for-11 from the field, with four assists and three turnovers in a 70-65 loss.
``I'm not worried about that at all,'' he said. ``I've improved a lot. I feel real comfortable. My teammates can handle the ball as well as I can.''
Collison was also on the bench for that nationally televised game against West Virginia, and he wasn't worried that Westbrook would repeat his performance.
``He understands you got to put that game behind you and at the same time learn from that,'' Collison said. ``He's someone that is real hungry. He has so much aggression that his athleticism takes it to another level.''
While Collison's injury has drawn the most attention, the preseason All-American guard isn't the Bruins' only injured player.
Guard Michael Roll tore the plantar fascia, or connective tissue that supports the arch, in his left foot during preseason practice. The junior was expected to vie for a starting job. He will travel with the team to Kansas City, and is expected to resume running next week.
``It's equally disappointing that Mike Roll is not here,'' Howland said. ``He was playing the best he's ever played at UCLA.''
Roll also might return against George Washington or Texas on Dec. 2. Forward James Keefe, recovering from offseason foot surgery, could be back in early December.
Their absences have the Bruins down to just eight scholarship players heading into the season's first road trip.
``It's tough, but it's preseason,'' Love said. ``Once we add Keefe, Roll and Darren, that will be huge.''
Love made the covers of Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News on Friday, along with Southern California freshman O.J. Mayo.
``I didn't really tell anyone,'' he said.