And now he has adjusted again. As sixth-ranked UCLA prepares to play USC on Sunday at the Galen Center, Keefe is locating, bit by bit, the pieces of his game shattered Aug. 10 when he was diagnosed with a torn labrum.
After being told he would redshirt, spending the season working to get back to where he was 100% physically, Keefe was brought back to active status last month after teammate Michael Roll reinjured a foot.
Keefe is averaging 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.4 minutes a game in 11 games. Modest numbers without any spectacular plays to mark his contributions.
But a three-point basket against Washington State last week, shot with a quick release and some swagger, earned a positive comment from Bruins Coach Ben Howland.
And the way Keefe is playing defense with his upper body, creating space by moving his shoulders instead of placing his hands on an opponent's back and getting a foul call earned notice from teammate Kevin Love.
It has been baby steps for Keefe since his first game, Jan. 3 at Stanford, when he played four minutes and didn't score.
Relocating his instincts for the finer points -- where to cut, where to pass, when to crash the boards, when to double team on defense -- has been as difficult as rebuilding his physical strength.
"When you are taken away from the court for four months," Keefe said, "you get a little shaky and iffy in a lot of areas. Every day the game feels a little better for me, a little more familiar. This season has taken so many turns and nothing has gone the way we planned."
There is no question Keefe (along with all of his team-mates) had an awful game last weekend. But to use that one game as a sign that he hasn’t contributed at all this season is just being insincere and shortsighted.
As mentioned above Keefe played a significant role in our huge win against Washington State. And ever since he came back he has done all the little things to slowly increase his mins in the rotation. He and his team-mates had a setback this past Sunday. They will just have to battle through and try to snap out of it this weekend.
And that brings me to Love’s comments in Perelman’s blog. As mentioned yesterday Love’s followup comments to his post Washington silly blowup was encouraging. We have more from Perelman:
"You never want to show body posture and wave your hands or anything like that because it’s almost like showing up a teammate. You never want to do that. If you’re getting frustrated, you can always take it out on the offensive or defensive boards.
"It was a war out there. That’s just something we just really had to game-plan for. We knew they were going to be physical and we knew they were going to have a lot of calls go their way and they out-toughed us a little bit."
Also Love and his team-mates will need to do a better job on defense because it hasn’t been great. From Dohn:
UCLA's past three opponents combined to shoot 47.7percent from the field, led by Washington State's 52.3 percent.
"It is embarrassing," Collison said. "Since I've been here, we've been all defense, we've been doing a good job on the defensive end. When a team does shoot that high of a percentage, it's going to be real hard to win games like that."
Lastly, let’s try to close the loop on all the furor over the classless play of Tim Morris and the subsequent tom foolery by the Pac-10 officials and Lorenzo Romar. From the Perelman post linked above here are AA2’s latest comments:
"We had 47 seconds left in the game and until the clock goes off, the game isn’t over, so after that I just had to go back at it to try to compete and get the win, but it didn’t happen. At the end of the game when both teams were shaking hands, he said ‘I’m sorry about that’ and that was it."
He was also quite philosophical about the play. "When something happens to you, you can’t always react right away because it might lead you to a wrong decision. So you have to take a step back.
"So I don’t think it was a deliberate situation. He was trying to inbound the ball still and I was on his grille and he had no space except to throw off of me. Unfortunately, he hit me in the face -– not a good area -– but I think his intention was to avoid a 5-second count."
Now AA2 has put this thing behind him. But still … if we get another shot against Washington in the tourney, we hope there is a HUGE Bruin turnout at Staples to make lives interesting for Lorenzo Romar. And by "interesting" I mean creative noise, chants, signs the Den showed us during the Arizona game at Pauley. And I sure hope we are not emptying our bench if we are up big in the second half. We need pound them from tip-off to final whistle.
That’s the last thing I will note on the Morris thuggery. We need to put our focus on Sunday and figure out how we can regain the momentum in our bid to hold on to the Pac-10.