UCLA coach Ben Howland opened his weekly news conference Tuesday by saying senior James Keefe (shoulder) is "unlikely" to play during the team's trip to the Washington schools this weekend.
Keefe sat out UCLA's 68-64 loss at USC on Sundayafter having an MRI exam on his dislocated left shoulder. Howland said the exam results showed nothing new. The coach says he hopes Keefe will be able to play in the Bruins' last four regular season games.
"I think he's going to need surgery once the year is over," Howland added. "It's pretty clear that that [doctors] are going to have to go back in there and take a look."
Freshman Brendan Lane made his first career start Sunday but said he had "no idea" if he'd do the same on Thursday at Washington State.
"[Howland] wouldn't have started me if he wasn't comfortable in me," Lane said. "I know I was comfortable out there."
UCLA didn't lose much with Keefe out. Lane scored two points and grabbed two rebounds in 16 minutes. Keefe, meanwhile, had been averaging about the same (2.2 points and 2.8 rebounds) in 16 minutes per game. The bleak offensive numbers mean nothing in Howland's defense-first system -- and Lane knows that.
"Every game I have to focus defensively," Lane said. "That's the best way for me to get out there -- box out, rebound, play tough defense. The offense is going to come eventually."
The other option at center is freshman Reeves Nelson, though Howland prefers to bring him off the bench to keep him out of foul trouble. Nelson, who made 10 starts before Keefe returned from a previous injury, ranks second in the Pacific 10 Conference in field-goal percentage (63 percent). Nelson said he does not care whether he starts.
"That's up to coach," he added. "Whatever is best for the team."
Howland also included sophomore J'mison Morgan in his list of possibilities. Morgan has not played in 10 games and is registering under two minutes per contest.
"We'll see how he does," Howland said.