OAKLAND, Calif. — Arizona point guard Justin Coleman will play Saturday against California after missing a day of practice with a sore shoulder, UA coach Sean Miller told the Star on Friday.
Miller said Coleman mostly sat out Thursday’s practice for precautionary reasons, after Stanford’s Josh Sharma clipped him near midcourt late in Thursday’s game, but fully returned to practice on Friday.
“His shoulder did not pop out,” Miller said. “It’s just a very sensitive area and when it gets dislocated, I think it takes four to six weeks for that area to calm down if he gets struck really hard, which he did.
“So I think it scared him more than anything. But the good news is because it didn’t dislocate again, every day that goes by he gets a little bit better and stronger. He practiced full tilt today and he should be fine for tomorrow.”
Sharma’s arm came down hard on Coleman near midcourt, wrapping around his shoulder, but Miller said Coleman was not whacked below the waist at the same time.
“It was an awkward play because you had a 7-footer running full speed the wrong direction,” Miller said. “It could have been worse.”
After Ira Lee scored four points and pulled down a key rebound late in UA’s 75-70 win Wednesday, Miller said he wanted to play Lee and Chase Jeter together more often. Lee is averaging only 14.1 minutes, the least of UA’s four post players.
“Ira over the last month has really started to pick it up and I think he’s making more positive plays,” Miller said. “He’s more sure of himself and he’s really giving us great minutes off the bench right now.”
Lee’s free throws came as a result of Coleman’s injury. Under NCAA rules, if a player doesn’t shoot free throws because of injury, the opposing team’s coach gets to choose among the four other players on the court, and Stanford’s Jerod Haase picked Lee.
Lee entered the game hitting 81 percent from the line but had averaged just 1.5 free-throw attempts per game, and Miller said he guessed Haase picked him because he hadn’t shot often.
Miller said he expects Cal point guard Paris Austin will play Saturday despite missing the past two games because of an ankle injury.
Even though Cal is on a four-game losing streak, Miller said their start to Pac-12 play comes with “kind of an asterisk” because of Austin’s absence.
“Just watching Cal, they are a much improved offensive team from a year ago,” Miller said. “I don’t think they get enough credit for who they’ve become offensively. … Their big guys on this year’s team are really skilled, so they can beat you from the 3-point line, they have some guys who can really put the ball on the floor and go off the dribble. If you look at their numbers, offensively they’ve really taken a major step up from a year ago.”