Friday, March 3, 2017

T.J. Leaf injury

LA Times' Bolch: UCLA's TJ Leaf hopes to return for Pac-12 Conference tournament
UCLA might not be without TJ Leaf for long.
Brad Leaf, the father of the Bruins freshman power forward, told The Times in an email Thursday that his son hoped to return for his team’s Pac-12 Conference tournament opener on March 9 after spraining his left ankle Wednesday during UCLA’s victory over Washington.
Brad Leaf said his son intended to get back on the court Sunday with a light workout, meaning he would miss the Bruins’ final regular-season home game Saturday against Washington State. TJ Leaf would then try to expand his movements each day leading up to the conference tournament, where No. 3 UCLA (27-3 overall, 14-3 Pac-12) has a bye into the quarterfinal round.
“He had a few bad sprains in high school,” said Brad Leaf, who coached TJ at Foothills Christian High in El Cajon, “so he knows what he is dealing with.”
Leaf is UCLA’s second-leading scorer, averaging 16.3 points per game after his injury limited him to only five minutes against the Huskies. He leaped to block a shot and rolled his ankle when he landed, forcing him out of the game.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford joked with Leaf about his stat line after the game and Leaf’s teammates appeared to be in a jovial mood, indicating that the injury was not believed to be serious.
“It’s a tough one but he’ll bounce back,” Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball said afterward. “He’ll be fine.”
UCLA junior forward Gyorgy Goloman will probably start against Washington State in Leaf’s absence, with Alford saying Wednesday that his team could also use the four-guard lineup it had abandoned in recent weeks. Goloman had one of his best games after Leaf was hurt, finishing with eight points and six rebounds in a season-high 26 minutes.
Twitter: @latbbolch

OCR's Whicker: TJ Leaf's ankle injury a dose of adversity for UCLA

mar 01, 2017 | mark Whicker |o.c. register | ARTICLE LINK
LOS ANGELES – This UCLA basketball season began on Nov. 11. In all the games, practices and road trips, it has dodged almost all the nightmares.
The sight of TJ Leaf, fallen and unable to get up, changed all that Wednesday night.
Early in what became UCLA’s 98-66 demolition of Washington, Leaf crashed underneath his own basket after a shot went awry. As UCLA flashed downcourt, the eyes of 13,659 fans were riveted by the sight of Leaf trying to scoot his way to the sideline and off the actual battleground. When play was stopped, two trainers came out to investigate.
Leaf eventually rose and was helped into the locker room. He could put a little weight on his left foot but not much. He didn’t return, and UCLA soon announced that Leaf had sprained his left ankle.
It didn’t affect this game, which boosted UCLA’s record to 27-3 overall and 13-3 in the Pac-12. Afterward, Coach Steve Alford seemed fairly upbeat.
“He’ll be on crutches, with a boot,” Alford said. “You go on. It’s next man up. We’ll do everything we can to get him back.”
Alford seemed to hold at least a little hope that Leaf could play against Washington State on Saturday if he needed to. The point is that Leaf doesn’t. If the Bruins are circumspect, they’ll hold out Leaf until at least their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament, which would be Thursday in Las Vegas.
Leaf averages 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in his first and probably final season at UCLA. He is the Bruins’ leading scorer, and he and Thomas Welsh have the highest rebound average. In the Bruins’ three losses, Leaf averaged 11 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Although Welsh is a reliable mid-range shooter and freshman Ike Anigbogu is sharpening his offense with each game, Leaf is UCLA’s toughest frontcourt matchup. A trip to the Final Four without Leaf is extremely unlikely.
Alford clearly doesn’t expect anything that drastic. He even joked about Leaf’s two rebounds and one assist, telling him it wasn’t bad for five minutes.
But if you care about No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, which you probably shouldn’t, you just as clearly want to see Leaf moving briskly during next week’s Pac-12 Tournament.
Alford was buoyed by what he called the Bruins’ “engagement” in a situation that invited complacency. UCLA had just won at Arizona on Saturday, 77-72, its second road win over a team in the top five (Kentucky). Washington came in with a 9-19 record and didn’t have injured freshman guard Markelle Fultz, who will be high in the NBA draft lottery along with Lonzo Ball.
UCLA brutalized the Huskies, 107-66, on Feb. 4 when Fultz was playing. But the Bruins played fine Wednesday, except for some sloppy, distracted moments right after Leaf went off.
Bryce Alford, now UCLA”s fifth-leading career scorer as he heads for his final game in Pauley, was 8 for 14 from the 3-point line and scored 29 points. He and Ball combined for 62 minutes, 48 points, 12 assists and no turnovers. UCLA only had eight turnovers overall.
It is hard to imagine how Washington could be this bad. The Huskies shoot 31 percent from the 3-point line and their opponents shoot 41 percent, in conference play.
They could do nothing with UCLA generally, even though Alford had to play four guards with Anigbogu “We probably haven’t done that for five minutes,” Alford said, “but that’s what happens when you lose a big.”
The Bruins only hope they’ve merely misplaced him.
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TJ Leaf hurts ankle early in UCLA's rout of Washington

MArch 02, 2017 | Ap-THE usa today | ARTICLE LINK

LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA coach Steve Alford kidded TJ Leaf that his two points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one steal in five minutes was pretty impressive.
That's all the time Leaf got because the freshman sprained his left ankle. His absence didn't bother the second-ranked Bruins who went on to rout Washington, 98-66, on Wednesday night for their eighth straight win.
"I really don't want to add any additional pressure, but that UCLA team could win a national championship," said Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar, a former UCLA assistant.
Bryce Alford scored 29 points and Lonzo Ball added 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for the Bruins (27-3, 14-3 Pac-12), who improved to 15-1 at home. They completed a season sweep of Washington after winning by 41 points on the road last month.
Leaf will wear a boot and use crutches in between getting treatment to see if he can return in time for Saturday's regular-season finale.
"He's such a positive, uplifting dude, it's hard to tell what happened," Bryce Alford said.
The Bruins led by 21 points at halftime and extended the lead to 42 in the second half.
"We were engaged right from the beginning," the elder Alford said. "Our guys really concentrated well in a lopsided game. We were really good in a lot of areas."

Noah Dickerson tied his career high with 23 points for the Huskies (9-20, 2-15). They have lost 11 in a row and 13 of 14. Their 20 turnovers led to 34 points by the Bruins.
"We want to finish the season strong," Dickerson said. "At the Pac-12 Tournament, we want to have a strong showing."
Alford hit three consecutive three-pointers in the game's final 5:15. He finished with eight, one off his career high, and the Bruins had 14.
Early in the second half, Ball put on a show. The freshman phenom took a bounce pass from Thomas Welsh and scored on a fastbreak layup. He and Alford passed the ball back and forth before Alford stepped back in the left corner and hit a 3. On the Bruins' next play, Ball swiped David Crisp, picked up the ball bouncing low on the court and dunked. He later made back-to-back three-pointers.
"It was fun," Ball said. "The second half we picked up the pace and had a lot of up and down."
The Bruins opened the game by hitting their first four shots, including three three-pointers, for an 11-point lead. They were ahead by seven when Leaf got hurt.
He stepped on the foot of a Huskies player as they came down from rebounding. Leaf landed on the court and stayed down until he was helped up by two staff members. He limped off with his arms draped over the staffers and went into the locker room.
The Bruins rolled on.
They went on a 16-2 run that extended their lead to 37-16. Six players scored in the spurt, including three points by G.G. Goloman and a three-point play by Ike Anigbogu, who both entered the game after Leaf left. Aaron Holiday's alley-oop pass set up Ball's dunk.
"That's the time for other guys to step up and they did," Ball said.

Big picture

Washington: The Huskies continue to be in a major funk, just one spot out of the bottom of the Pac-12 standings. Romar is the longest tenured coach in the league with 15 years at the helm and the program faces a long slog back to respectability. Next week's league tourney in Las Vegas is the end of the Huskies' season.
UCLA: The Bruins were the only Pac-12 school to go undefeated in February at 7-0, the first time the school was unbeaten in that month since the 1994-95 team went 9-0 on its way to winning a record 11th national championship. All three of their defeats have been in conference; the third-place Bruins need a weekend sweep and losses by first-place Arizona and second-place Oregon to grab a share of the league regular season title.


Washington: The Huskies were without G Markelle Fultz, who scored 25 points in their earlier loss to UCLA. He's missed four of the last six games with a sore right knee. Romar said he probably won't play Saturday at USC. ... Their last win was Jan. 18 against Colorado in OT at home.
UCLA: Alford needs three three-pointers to overtake Jason Kapono as UCLA's career leader. Kapono made 317 from 2000-03. ... Alford is sixth on the school's career scoring list with 1,861 points. ... The Bruins have made a school-record 307 3-pointers this season; Oregon owns the Pac-12 season record with 350 set in 2006-07.

Lakers night out

Lakers coach Luke Walton, guard D'Angelo Russell and rookie Brandon Ingram, who played one season at Duke, attended the game. Former Laker and Clipper Lamar Odom chatted with Walton.

Up next

Washington: Visits USC on Saturday in the regular season finale.
UCLA: Hosts Washington State on Saturday in the regular season finale and last home game for seniors Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Jerrold Smith, who has played a total of 20 minutes this season.

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