Less pain, more game for Collison

It was a healthier, happier Darren Collison -- his bruised tailbone on the mend -- who participated in UCLA’s basketball practice Tuesday.

With the 15th-ranked Bruins preparing for their first game in the Pacific 10 Conference tournament Thursday, the point guard said he had mostly recovered from a hard fall in the regular-season finale against Oregon.

There is still “a little pain, but it isn’t as much as I felt on Saturday,” Collison said. “I was feeling a lot of pain.”

So much that the senior had trouble sleeping that night. But in the days since, he has undergone a regimen of icing, stimulation and massage.

With X-rays showing no major damage, Collison participated in about 30 minutes of stretching and shooting Tuesday. He said he expected to go all out in practice.


“It’s something you can’t really heal,” he said. “It’s going to heal over time by itself.”

Looking ahead

The Bruins still don’t know whom they will face Thursday, slotted to play the winner of tonight’s game between Washington State and Oregon, but Coach Ben Howland has a hunch.

“I strongly believe we’re going to play Washington State,” Howland said. “I would be surprised if Oregon beat them only because Washington State is playing really good right now.”

The Cougars upset UCLA at Pauley Pavilion last month, then defeated the Arizona schools at home before dropping a close game to Pac-10 champion Washington last weekend.

UCLA has structured its practices to prepare for a rematch.

“This is a very good team,” Howland said. “I can’t emphasize that enough.”


The latest NCAA statistics show the Bruins leading the nation in field-goal percentage at 50.6%. But they also rank 250th out of 330 teams in field-goal percentage defense, so recent practices have emphasized blocking out and taking charges, what center Alfred Aboya called “little things that win games.”

“I think at times our defense is streaky,” Aboya said. “We need it to be consistent.”