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UCLA Hoops News (all good)

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Josh Shipp is not coming back tonight against Wagner.  But no worries.  Howland sounds down right chipper about what is going on in practice:

Christmas came a few days early for UCLA coach Ben Howland. His gift was a spirited December practice.

For the first time in 44 practices, he had all 12 scholarship players available to practice Monday. Sophomore forward Josh Shipp - who's recovering from hip surgery - participated at full speed for 90 minutes. He won't play in the next two games.

But Howland was beaming after what he deemed the best practice of the season. Howland summed up present in one word: "Hallelujah!"

Shipp, who is scheduled to return against Stanford on Dec. 29, is expected to make the 12th-ranked Bruins (8-1) that much stronger.

"He actually looked very good," Howland said during Tuesday's news conference. "He made his team win. He was working with our second five. It was a much better group with him in there. He's very close to being ready. I'm excited."

Shipp has full range of motion and was cleared by doctors to play in the Pacific-10 Conference opener. However, Shipp is expected to have stiffness in the joint for three to four more months, and it might be another six to nine months before he fully recovers. But Shipp is ready.

"The team is doing so well," Shipp said. "I want to be a part of it."
BTW, if you want to get the 411 on Wagner, the UCLABasketballBlog has a nice preview.

Back to Shipp. Why do you think we are all so excited about him come back. Well just read this blurb from CBS Sportsline on him:
Before injuring his hip this fall, Shipp was said to be the Bruins' best player. Better than Arron Aflalo, better than Jordan Farmar. Who was saying it? Ex-Bruins who had returned to Los Angeles to play pickup games with the current team. "We couldn't watch those games," says UCLA coach Ben Howland, "but those (NBA) guys were saying, 'Hey, Shipp's your best player.'" Shipp, who averaged 9.3 points last season as a freshman, could make his debut this week against Wagner or Sacramento State, allowing him to shake off some of the rust before No. 14 UCLA opens its Pac-10 schedule Dec. 29 against Stanford.
However, we need to be mindful that the kid is coming back from a serious surgery. So we really ought to limit our expectations. I have no doubt he will become an integral part of the team by the end of the season. But let's not expect too much too fast and slowly phase him in. Specially since Ced is doing such a great job at the point-forward position. Howland is doing the right thing by not rushing him onto the court any time soon.  BTW, LA Times has a nice note on Ryan Wright this morning. All good stuff. GO BRUINS