UCLA freshman Josh Shipp sprained his right ankle in the first half of the Bruins’ win over USC on Thursday and his ability to play in today’s nonconference game against Notre Dame won’t be determined until game time.
Shipp, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Fairfax High, was in the lobby of the team hotel Saturday morning wearing a stabilizing boot on his right foot. Coach Ben Howland said Shipp would not practice Saturday.
“I came down wrong on a rebound,” Shipp said, “and it started hurting more and more as the game went on.”
Point guard Jordan Farmar said Shipp came to him in the second half against USC and said the ankle was really hurting. “He wasn’t going to tell coach about it, but I told him he had to,” Farmar said.
Shipp became a permanent starter in December against Pepperdine when Dijon Thompson sat out a game because of a cut finger. Shipp is averaging nine points and is second on the team in rebounding at five a game.
“Right now it looks like I’m going to play,” Shipp said Saturday.
But Howland said it would probably be at game time when he decided for sure. If Shipp can’t play or is available for limited minutes only, Howland said he would count on sophomore Matt McKinney and seldom-used senior Josiah Johnson to pick up the extra minutes.
UCLA already is short-handed. Freshman backup center Lorenzo Mata sat out the USC game because of a fractured rib and his availability is uncertain.
Thompson said Tuesday that he was not looking forward to making the trip to South Bend and wasn’t much more enthusiastic Saturday. When asked if he felt better about being here, Thompson paused, then said, “A little bit.”
Notre Dame is a member of the Big East, a conference with a reputation for letting players be very physical, and when he was asked if he liked that Big East brand of basketball Thompson didn’t pause. “No,” he said. “It’s like caveman basketball, hitting each other on the head. It separates the men from the boys.”
As for which side UCLA fell on, men or boys, Thompson said, “We’re going to see.”
Pacific 10 Conference officials will be used.
This will be the 46th meeting between UCLA and Notre Dame. The Bruins hold a 26-19 advantage, though they lost last year at Pauley Pavilion, 75-60.
Howland said the there are no future games scheduled between the teams, and Notre Dame point guard Chris Thomas said that’s too bad. “This is kind of a special series,” Thomas said. “I think we should play UCLA every year.”
at Notre Dame, 11:00 a.m. PST, Ch. 2
Site -- Joyce Center, South Bend, Ind.
Radio -- KLAC 690.
Records -- Fighting Irish 16-8, Bruins 15-9.
Update -- Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey has been unhappy with the level of play of his two big men -- 6-foot-10 senior forward Jordan Cornette and 6-11 junior forward Torin Francis. Brey said they need to be more assertive offensively and aggressive with rebounding. It is the same problem Howland has found with his center, 7-foot Michael Fey. Most of Notre Dame’s scoring comes from three perimeter players -- Chris Thomas (14.3 points), Chris Quinn (13.2) and Colin Falls (12.1).