Time to keep track of the biggest story or concern brewing around our hoops team on the home page. While we can all breath a sigh of relief that the team met the bare minimum expectations of making the tournament. In the back of our minds though we also know that Bruins will probably not go anywhere without it's captain Malcolm Lee.
Right now concern is growing around Lee's knee. Lee had an MRI in Pullman following the Washington State game. Results were inconclusive enough that Lee had to undergo a second MRI yesterday in Westwood. The LA Times reports that the UCLA coaches and players are still waiting:
And players and coaches were unable to exhale after the results of a second MRI exam on the junior guard's left knee were not immediately available.
Lee hurt the knee during UCLA's 58-54 overtime victory against Washington State on Saturday when he fell hard underneath the basket on the Bruins' final offensive play of regulation. He made two free throws with 8.9 seconds left to send the game into the extra period and then four more in the final 6.9 seconds of overtime to secure the victory.
Lee had an initial MRI exam performed in Spokane, Wash., on Saturday and then a subsequent test performed upon his return to Los Angeles. The second MRI exam was performed, Coach Ben Howland said, because it involved more advanced machinery. Howland would not disclose the results of the first MRI.
We don't see UCLA going anywhere without Lee in next few days. Among the key players he is the only one who has shown all out commitment to playing defense and playing hard from start to finish. UCLA's tourney hopes - both in the Pac-10 and in the Big Dance - hinge on Lee's knee.
Let's hope for the best here. We will update this post as we have more updates throughout the day.
UPDATE (R): Gold just posted this:
I've been told by reliable sources that UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee has a small tear in his left knee, and his family is weighing the options of surgery or playing through it.
We all know ML has aspirations to play in the NBA and as one of the only players who has really buckled down and worked his tail off when other teammates were jogging around it's hard to question his commitment at all. Without knowing the details of what further damage he could do to his knee by playing through the injury it's tough to say what he should or shouldn't do, but hopefully what's best for ML and what's best for UCLA are the same thing. Who knows, but fingers crossed.
We should have the official word from UCLA on his decision at the regular 1:30 pm PST press conference.
UPDATE II (R): According to Diamond Leung from tWWL, ML will play through the injury:
UCLA guard Malcolm Lee has a "small tear" in his left knee, but is expected to play through it, according to coach Ben Howland.
Considering the way ML has left everything on the court at all times, this isn't a complete shock. If anyone on the team has earned the initials, it's ML.