Will surgery correct Johnson's knee problems?

6-9 University of Louisville freshman Brian Johnson had surgery on his right knee just before Thanksgiving but the effectiveness of the procedure likely won't be known until next fall.

While the rest of his University of Louisville teammates were basking in the sun in Hawaii, 6-9 Brian Johnson spent Thanksgiving in New York undergoing surgery to correct recurrent knee problems.

"He had surgery right before Thanksgiving," Pitino said.

Johnson, who just underwent his third knee surgery in the past six months, was on the sidelines Saturday for No. 17 Louisville's 98-57 victory over Lafayette at Freedom Hall. He appeared in good spirits and was aided by the use of crutches.

For now, though, Johnson must keep pressure off the knee for at least the next six weeks. After that, the freshman forward will begin a lengthy rehabilitation period in an attempt to return to action next season.

"We won't know until July [whether or not the surgery was successful] with what they had to do with his [surgery]," Pitino explained. "He won't be able to put any pressure on his knee for six weeks."

Pitino said the program will take a very cautious approach with Johnson's rehabilitaion because of the seriousness of the surgery. And Johnson won't be getting much excercise, at least for the next month and half, save some laps in the cool waters of the U of L training pool.

"The most exercise that he'll get until July will be just going in a pool," Pitino said. "So we're going to be overly cautious with him because this was a very serious surgery. They had to correct alot of problems because his knee has been through a lot of trauma."

Even with a cautious approach, the effectiveness of Johnson's surgery likely won't be known until the season begins next November. Still, Pitino remains optimistic that the former Oak Hill standout will be ready come the 2005-06 season.

"We won't know until next November whether or not Brian will be able to play next season or redshirt," Pitino said. "But we're optimistic on that."

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