For about a month, UNLV junior Matt Shaw wondered if something was wrong with his right knee. He finally has the answer, and it’s what he feared the most.
A Rebels basketball team already short on numbers was reduced by one Friday when Shaw, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, was declared out for the 2008-09 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Shaw will have surgery in mid-July, redshirt next season and have two years of eligibility remaining.
“I was really looking forward to this year,” he said. “I was depressed at first.
“But I try to look at the positive side of it. All I can do is be hopeful about it. I can spend a year getting healthy and working hard. A lot of people have bounced back from ACL injuries.”
Shaw started seven games and played in all 35 last season as UNLV finished 27-8 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 6.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 19.0 minutes per game.
Shaw, who scored in double figures in 10 games and shot 24-for-73 on 3-pointers, was expected to challenge for a starting role or be one of the first two players off the bench next season.
“Matt’s an experienced guy that we’ll miss,” coach Lon Kruger said. “It’s very disappointing in the short term because everyone wants to play and no one wants to be injured.
“I think in the long term he can make it a positive because of that redshirt year.”
Kruger said Shaw’s absence could create more opportunities for two incoming recruits — 6-10 freshman center Brice Massamba and 6-8 junior forward Darris Santee.
“It’s definitely disappointing, and it’s definitely going to be a big loss. Matt is a great player,” senior forward Joe Darger said. “Hopefully some of the younger guys that are coming in can step up and fill that role. I think we’ll be all right.
“I feel bad for him, but we’ve just got to keep moving on. Hopefully we can keep everybody else healthy.”
Shaw was on the floor Tuesday morning when the Rebels opened practice for their tour of Australia. But he said he aggravated his right knee, which he initially injured in a pickup game in early May.
“I thought everything was OK. But trying to go really hard on it during practice let me know something was wrong with it,” said Shaw, from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. “I stopped and I felt a pop, so I knew I had to go to the doctor.”
Shaw had an MRI exam Tuesday, and team physician Dr. Gerald Higgins found the tear. After surgery, Shaw will need six to nine months of rehabilitation.
Kruger will take only eight healthy players to Australia for a six-game exhibition tour from June 23 to July 5. Shaw will join the team on the trip.
Contact Reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.