UCLA’s Ben Howland: Reeves Nelson won’t start ‘any time soon’
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Just because Reeves Nelson is back playing for UCLA doesn’t mean he has left Coach Ben Howland’s doghouse.
Howland said Sunday that Nelson, his only returning all-conference player, would not start ‘any time soon’ in the wake of his early-season suspensions that sidelined him 1 1/2 games before he returned during the Maui Invitational.
‘He’s got to have a good attitude, be accountable for a while here before that’s going to happen,’ Howland said.
Howland said he was pleased with Nelson’s behavior during the second half of the Chaminade game, which was his first time back on the court since the Bruins’ opener, and the Kansas game, ‘but sometimes he slips back to his old practice habits and he’s just got to get better.’
Nelson was suspended indefinitely after UCLA’s season-opening loss to Loyola Marymount in part because he was late to a team meeting, then sat out the first half of the Chaminade game after missing the team bus to the airport and the team flight to Hawaii.
For UCLA (1-4) to rebound from a lousy start, Nelson must revert to the player who averaged 13.9 points last season and played hard-nosed defense during a home victory against Arizona, not the one prone to sulking and disappearing for stretches. Nelson has made one start this season and is averaging 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds.
In injury news, Howland said sophomore forward Travis Wear practiced Sunday and was expected to play against Pepperdine after needing five stitches to close a wound he suffered while snorkeling in Hawaii. Sophomore center Anthony Stover tweaked his shoulder injury but is expected to play. But junior forward De’End Parker will remain out because of a knee injury.
Howland said guard Larry Drew II, who must sit out this season after transferring from North Carolina, injured his groin before the team left for Hawaii and remains sidelined.
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