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January 18, 2013In recent weeks, it's seemed that whenever Nebraska head coach Tim Miles opens an interview with an announcement, he's more often than not bearing bad news.
Friday, however, was a much different story.
Miles announced that senior forward Brandon Ubel, who had missed the past two games with an elbow injury he suffered in the loss to Michigan on Jan. 9, would not only travel with the team to Penn State this weekend, but would also practice in State College, Penn., Friday night and could possibly play in Saturday's game.
"Brandon Ubel will make the trip with us, and he'll practice today," Miles said. "We'll just see how it goes."
Miles said he honestly didn't know whether Ubel would be physically able to make his return, but he would obviously welcome back his leading rebounder (6.8 rpg) and third-leading scorer (12.1 ppg) with open arms.
"All I know is our trainer was encouraged with his progress," Miles said. "Injuries, to me, are almost like I just kind exclude the guy in my thought process until he's ready to play. You can't lament about if you have him or don't have him. You just have to play the hand you're dealt. We'll see how practice goes, and if he feels good and there's no danger of getting (his elbow) any worse, than I think we'll play him."
After suffering a slight fracture and dislocation in his right elbow from getting it hyper-extended while going up for a rebound in the final minutes against Michigan, Ubel was ruled out for the Huskers' following game at Michigan State and then again for Wednesday's home loss to Purdue.
Sitting out against Michigan State marked only the second game he had missed in his career and snapped a streak of 94 straight appearances, including 47 consecutive starts.
"It was kind of a shock, that's for sure, especially when they said you're definitely not (playing) this game and probably not the next game, and then we'll see after that," Ubel said. "That kind of hit me kind of weird, but looking back on it, I've been pretty lucky. I was fortunate that it wasn't worse."
Ubel said his elbow has been healing as expected, and the plan from the beginning was to have him ready to go by the Penn State game. He said he feels about 80-85 percent recovered at this point, and assuming he feels good following Friday night's practice, he thinks he'll be ready to make his return against the Nittany Lions.
"That's the goal," Ubel said. "So hopefully I am It's getting better every day. I was able to lock it out yesterday, so that was a big step. Getting some shots up and stuff, not too far out. But we'll see how it feels today at practice and kind of go from there."