Arron Afflalo snuck into Pauley Pavilion for a solo workout Monday. By the time he'd shot plenty of baskets and worked up a good sweat, he got caught.
Extra practice normally would be admired, but not with the state of 11th-ranked UCLA, which boasts just three players (out of 13) that haven't been injured at one point or another this season. Monday was supposed to be a mandatory off day.
Afflalo, UCLA's leading scorer, had just bruised his hip and backside from a hard fall at Arizona State on Saturday and he had yet to take an X-ray. The day after his unapproved workout, he was sent for precautionary X-rays against his wishes. They were negative, and Afflalo claimed himself 100 percent.
"I'm not a big fan of the training room and X-rays," Afflalo said. "I like the gym. That's it."
It's in UCLA's best interest to keep Afflalo healthy, since he's third in the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring with 19 points per game. Despite being riddled with injuries, UCLA is in a three-way tie for first in the Pac-10 with Cal and Arizona.
UCLA coach Ben Howland just wants to keep the Bruins from suffering any more injuries if he can help it. So, he said he'll have to get on Afflalo about his workout.
"He was getting mad as to why someone would order X-rays," Howland said. "That speaks to him as to how his health is."
Sophomore forward Josh Shipp announced Tuesday he'd no longer be able to play this season because of pain following hip surgery. There's still no word on whether Cedric Bozeman (torn cartilage in left shoulder) will return.
"We've done a great job dealing with adversity," Howland said. "It's a credit to our team. With all the different injuries we've had, we've continued throughout the season and found a way to win games against good teams. That's just a credit to our players."
When in Rome ... : The Cougars (9-3, 2-1) are coming off a 78-71 win at then-No. 10 Washington. The win snapped a 34-game losing streak against top-10 teams. The Cougars won in Seattle for the first time in 11 years. Washington State is improved under third-year coach Dick Bennett. He hopes there's more to come.
"I even used the corny old line at the end of the game and in the locker room," Washington State coach Dick Bennett said. "I said, kind of act like we're not shocked by this, even though we are. Act like you've been here before and might return again. Walk with your heads up, but don't look goofy."
Not just UCLA: Washington State has had its own problems with injuries. The Cougars lost starting point guard Derrick Low after he broke his right foot in practice on Jan. 4. Bennett has juggled his lineup since then, but Washington State pulled off the upset at Washington without Low, who averaged a team-best 10.5 points per game.
Jill Painter, (818) 713-3615