UCLA's Mata to miss 4-5 weeks after knee surgery

Updated: October 12, 2006, 10:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA center Lorenzo Mata had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Thursday, a day before the Bruins open practice for the upcoming season.

The junior had a small tear of his medial meniscus in the same knee repaired in June. The meniscus was found intact during Thursday's procedure performed by team physician Dr. Gerald Finerman, but cartilage fragments were removed.

Mata is expected to need four to five weeks for recovery.

"We are happy with the outcome of the surgery and look forward to his complete and full recovery," UCLA coach Ben Howland said in a statement. "He is a very important part of our team and we will take a conservative approach in bringing him back. Once we get him back, we want him back for good."

The Bruins open the season Nov. 15 against BYU.

"I'd like to be back for the first game, but I talked to the trainers and that might not be realistic," Mata said.

He averaged 3.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 14 minutes in 21 games last season, when he made eight starts.

Mata's injury was an unpleasant reminder of the injuries UCLA endured last season, when every scholarship player was hurt at one time or another even as the Bruins advanced to the national championship game, where they lost to Florida.

Howland said Mata's injury potentially "becomes a huge concern" for UCLA's low-post game.

"I was counting on him to play a major role this year, and I still am," he said.

Forward Josh Shipp, who was lost for the season in January because of constant pain in his right hip after surgery, will be ready for the start of practice.

A year ago at this time, Shipp was in the early recovery stages from the hip surgery. As a freshman, he averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, which led all Pac-10 newcomers.

Now a sophomore after a redshirt injury season, Shipp provided a glimpse of his potential by scoring in double figures in the four Pac-10 games he played in last season.

"I feel blessed," he said. "A lot of guys don't make it back. I feel like I'm in better shape."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.