Justin Davis Interview

I sat down with Justin Davis after his first game of the summer in the SF Pro-Am League (7/10/00). He's a great kid with a winning smile, and very pleasant to talk to. Read on for his comments on his redshirt year, his jump shot, his free throws, Nick Vander Laan, comparisons with Mad Dog and much more.

The Bootleg: When you were sitting on the bench last season, were you happy with your decision, or was it painful?
Justin Davis: I had mixed feelings during the year, just like anyone when they make a tough decision. But I look back on it now, and know it was one of the best decisons of my life - next to going to Stanford. I got a year to sit out, observe the game, see how the game is played, how the refs ref, and learn the style Coach Montgomery likes to coach. Next year, I'll be a step ahead of everybody else coming into the Pac-10. In addition to being that step ahead, there were players who played this year who didn't get much time. It was a good decision, and I learned a lot.

The Bootleg: What was the mental part of the game that you picked up watching this year?
Justin Davis: The biggest thing I learned is that you have to be observant of what is going on on the court. You really have to pay attention. You see things on the bench that players don't see in the game. You can see everything. Coach Montgomery will yell when something goes wrong and then ask us on the bench, "Did you see that?" I'll see it and tell Coach. A player like Mark (Madsen) or David (Moseley) , or whoever he got mad at won't see it. You have to focus on what is going on in the game and not get distracted by what the opposing team is saying to you, or get distracted by the crowd.

The Bootleg: Was there one coach who really stood out in how he helped you this year?
Justin Davis: The coach who helped me stay focused the most was Coach Fuller. He was a crutch for me this season. He'd take time before the games just to work out with me. I could have had an empty feeling that I'm not part of the team, but I got to work out on game days, too. You guys got your game sweat on; I've got my game sweat on, too. He was there and kept the mental part of the game there for me.

The Bootleg: I know that you worked on your free throw shooting and your jump shot, so how did that progress go?
Justin Davis: I think it was pretty slow. I didn't make a big improvement. I'm not like a Casey Jacobsen or a Ryan Mendez, you know? <big grin> I don't think that the redshirt year was the best part for the improvement of my jump shot. I think that this summer is going to be that time. There are so many people who can help me, and I get to play in whole games now. No distractions; no school. I don't have to think about a paper I have to write, or anything. Just focus and shooting. Every day now I just go out and shoot a lot. I remember everything the coaches taught me during the year and am applying it now. When I'm shooting, instead of the "herky-jerky" shot as Coach Taylor would say, I'm shooting it more smooth. With this pro-am league, I'm able to get more shots up.

The Bootleg: I saw you take a 3-point tonight. Will we ever see that this year, or was that a "Pro-Am Special?" <grin>
Justin Davis: Naw. We needed a 3, down like that. It wasn't like 6 or 8 minutes left in the game; there were just 2 minutes left and we were down like 16 points.

The Bootleg: Also during the game, you shot a baseline fade-away jumper. Is that a shot you feel you'll have this next year?
Justin Davis: Yeah. I feel more comfortable shooting the turn-arounds and spin-moves - the coaches all know that. I can nail a spin-move. That's money. I'm best with things that are nice and easy and don't require a lot of movement: face the basket and take just a quick pull-up.

The Bootleg: How about the free throws?
Justin Davis: I feel they're fine. I need to just keep shooting. At the beginning of the game, that was just the first shot I took. I hadn't been shooting in a while. I shot that kinda long, but it still went in. Backboard. I didn't call it, though. <grin> The next few hit the back rim, but I'd rather it hit that part than be short. I can get that rebound. The rest of the shots were just money.

The Bootleg: How is it playing with Nick Vander Laan? Do you guys have a friendly relationship, or is there a Stanford/Cal thing going on?
Justin Davis: A lot people think something would be going on, but we just joke about it. Actually, I called him today, and he was so excited. He has been wanting me to come out and play so bad. First thing he said to me today when I got here was, "Man, you should have gone to Cal. I wish you would have gone to Cal. We would have been kicking it. Doing everything together and playing together." Nick is just a great person.

The Bootleg: How do you evaluate Nick as a player you'll face next year?
Justin Davis: It will be interesting. Nick is a straight banger. He doesn't have finesse to his game. He's just a straight, hard-nosed player, and sometimes, that's all it takes to get the job done. Out here, he is playing good - against Darnell Robinson, a 300+ pound guy, Nick was guarding him. Nick is nowhere near 300 pounds, but he just has that strong will and determination to stop a player like that. Next year, he'll know some of my moves, and I'll know some of his moves. When we do guard each other, it'll be a pretty good match-up. Of course I won't guard him that much, since I'll probably be matched up against (Sean) Lampley. I can't wait to play against him next year, knowing that he's someone I almost played with. We'll also have this summer as something to look back on, along with all the rivalry we'll have with Stanford and Cal.

The Bootleg: I noticed that Mendy is on your roster but didn't see him out here tonight. What's the story?
Justin Davis: This was my first game. I would love to have him come play. He's an awesome player - one of my favorite college basketball players, period.

The Bootleg: What do you see this next year with Stanford's inside game, with yourself, Curtis and the Collins twins? What are you going to miss with Madsen not being there, and what will be new?
Justin Davis: I think we'll miss a lot - the tenacity, that Mark had. I'll try and pick that up. I think we'll be a lot more athletic. Curtis can block a shot from anywhere. I'm quick off my feet, too. I can't get the high shots like him, but I can come over from the help side and get to the ball pretty quick. I think the defense in the paint will be sweet this year.

The Bootleg: For all the wondering Stanford fans reading this, how would you compare and contrast your game with Mark Madsen's?
Justin Davis: You see, that's funny. A lot of people always compare me and Mark. They're always saying, "Oh, he'll be the next Madsen." I never saw myself as a player like Mark. Mark plays hard, OK. The game of basketball is played hard - everybody is supposed to play hard. If you're not playing hard, then you're not bringing a hundred percent to the game. I feel that every player should play hard like Mark. If everyone did that across the team, we'd go undefeated. I felt a lot of us played hard last year, and that's why he had a good record. If you look at Mark's game, there aren't a lot of things that stand out. I mean, you wouldn't say that he can get you with this post move or that. He's a great defender and can rebound - a good, tough banger. I look at myself and I say I'm a good rebounder - you're supposed to rebound. I'm a good defender - you're supposed to defend. I'm working towards getting a lot more moves, being more versatile. I know there are a lot of things I can do that Mark can't do, but I know there are also some things that Mark can do that I can't. It's hard to really compare us, when people say that I'll fill Mark Madsen's shoes. I'll say right now that I won't exactly do that. I'll play hard like Mark and defend like Mark, but that's about it for the comparison.

The Bootleg: How is Curtis and his foot?
Justin Davis: The last I heard, it was getting better. That's the last I heard from our weightlifting coach, who is keeping track of all the players - Mike Riley. I talked to Mike Riley this past Saturday and he said that Curtis' foot is getting a little better.

The Bootleg: What is your prediction for Stanford basketball in 2000-2001? What will be your strengths, and what are you most concerned about?
Justin Davis: I don't feel that we'll lack on the scoring part or defense. The only thing I'm worried about is our leadership. We lost our two leaders. I feel that Mark's leadership was so valuable that it will be tough to replace that. David was such a great leader that it will impossible to replace that. Mark led by his actions; Mose led by his mouth, and his actions. You look across the board on our team, and we have very quiet, nice, won't-get-in-your-face type people. Sometimes you're going to need that one player to get in your face - not a firecracker - but someone to get you going. I don't know where that is going to come from.

The Bootleg: Who would be a leading candidate to take that role next season?
Justin Davis: I wouldn't say that there is any leading candidate right now.

The Bootleg: Seeing the guys this last year, is there anybody who was quiet before but could step up now that Mark and Mose are gone?
Justin Davis: I really don't know.

The Bootleg: Is there anything you would like to say to Stanford fans who are excited and anxious about the season?
Justin Davis: Just support us. The message board people - just give us a break sometimes. <smiles> Be a little bit nicer and give us break.

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