UCLA Suspends Reeves Nelson Again
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Reeves Nelson has been suspended indefinitely for a second time from the UCLA basketball team, a situation that coach Ben Howland described Tuesday as “very difficult.”
“It’s definitely a distraction,” the coach said.
Howland said the junior forward displayed conduct unbecoming a member of the team. It’s the same reason given when he was suspended for five days last month.
“He has to be able to control his actions,” Howland said.
There is no specific timetable for Nelson’s status to be re-evaluated. Howland said Nelson won’t practice the next few days and it was unlikely that he would play in the Bruins’ next game on Saturday against Pennsylvania in Anaheim.
Howland said Nelson has a finite number of chances to rectify the situation, adding, “I’m not sure what that is.”
“There’s a point where enough is enough. Are we there at this point yet? We’ll see,” Howland said.
Howland has kept Nelson off-limits to reporters recently.
The coach said the latest suspension continues a trend of “very disappointing behavior” by Nelson, who didn’t play in the second half of last weekend’s loss to Texas. He was laughing on the bench as some fans chanted his name and the Bruins lost by 10 points.
“His behavior on the bench Saturday was totally against what UCLA basketball and our program stands for,” said Howland, who met with Nelson on Tuesday.
Asked what they discussed, Howland said, “That’s a difficult situation, a sensitive thing.”
Forward David Wear said, “In general, I don’t think that’s something that you want to do. You don’t want to be laughing when your team is losing.”
Nelson’s attitude has varied greatly during his career, ranging from high-energy team player to petulant and pouting.
“He’s just a passionate guy. You can take it the wrong way sometimes,” starting guard Lazeric Jones said. “He shoots it straight. He wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
In their conversations, Howland said, “Reeves is more apologetic than anything. That’s after you sit down with him. On the floor it’s a little different. When he gets into competition, sometimes the adversity of the situations are things he has difficulty working with for sure.”
Nelson is averaging 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Bruins, who at 2-5 are off to their worst start since the 2002-03 season.
“All of our energy needs to be spent on trying to get things right,” Wear said. “It’s a little bit of a distraction, obviously, because it’s just time and energy spent in a place where it doesn’t need to be.”
Nelson has fallen out of the starting lineup after being a key returning player. Last season, he was the Pac-12’s top rebounder and fourth-leading scorer while playing without problems.
“Sometimes when he has adversity in certain situations he’ll shut down and stop trying,” Howland said. “That is baffling.”
After Nelson was reinstated on Nov. 16, he missed the team’s flight to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational and arrived later.
“We’re trying to pull him along and kind of pick him up,” Wear said. “All of us try to a certain point, but if it keeps happening again and again and again, eventually everyone is just like, ‘Hey, what can we do?'”
Nelson’s teammates found out shortly before practice Tuesday that he was in trouble again. It’s finals week on campus, so the players have been juggling practice with test taking.
“We all know how good of a player Reeves is. He’s a good friend. Of course we want him on the team,” Jones said.
Jones said he doesn’t understand exactly what’s going on with Nelson.
“It’s at a higher level. It’s with coach,” he said. “If it’s with coach, I don’t really want to step in between there.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.