Every time you subtract a piece from this Stanford arsenal, they fire away and prove the doubters wrong. When Josh Childress missed the entire non-conference schedule, the Card knocked off the likes of Kansas and Gonzaga. When Chris Hernandez sat out a pair of games, Jason Haas stepped in and the Card didn't miss a beat. Justin Davis has been out the last three and a half games, and Matt Haryasz the last two - yet the #2 ranked Stanford Cardinal throttled Arizona State and pulled off one of the most thrilling comeback finishes in the school's history to defeat Arizona.
That stuff makes for fine print, and it gives Cardinalmaniacs™ warm fuzzies all over, but that does not change the fact that this team would very much like to have their two power forwards back in action. Haryasz worked like a madman late last week to try and play in the Saturday game against the Wildcats, but came up short with too much pain in his sprained right ankle. Justin Davis has been publicly reported by ESPN to be back next week for the games in L.A.
"I saw one report that says I had surgery," says an incredulous Davis, shaking his head.
The rumors and disinformation that surround these types of injury situations are somewhere between incredible and laughable, so it's time to get the record straight.
First things first - Justin Davis is not playing in L.A. next week. His knee is improving, but the Stanford doctors still have him under orders to use crutches at least into next week. He walks with a noticeable limp and does not even walk up and down the sidelines in practice. His afternoon routine while his teammates are scrapping on the Maples hardwood is a combination of:
- Ride the exercise bike
- Swimming exercises in the pool
- Applications of cold and pressure to his knee from a device called GameReady, which was also used last week on Haryasz' ankle
"It feels a little stronger," Davis says of his knee. But when you ask how him to elaborate on the status of his injury, he deadpans back, "I'm not playing."
A realistic timeline for his return is still probably in March. I'll continue to keep you updated as things become better known in the next few weeks.
Haryasz has a completely different injury and thus has always been expected to return to the court much sooner, and he now says with complete certainty that he will suit up Saturday and play in the game against Cal at Haas Pavilion. The question is how far along is he and thus how close to 100% of his abilities will we see that day.
Stanford took off Sunday and Monday, which gave Haryasz more time to rest the ankle. Tuesday was his first practice since the injury, but he only participated in 5-on-0 drills where there was no defense. Wednesday saw him return to normal practice drills, with about 70% participation. On Thursday, he did everything.
What I saw in Thursday's practice was all I need to know that his ankle is good. Much of the sophomore's game is predicated upon lift and acceleration, both of which come from pushing off that ankle. In rebounding, I saw him lift as high as he did two weeks ago. When he had the ball at the top of the key and drove the lane, he looked as quick as he did in the Oregon game. The best sign of all might have been a play where he laid out completely for a loose ball on the sideline.
"I think the only thing that could hold me back in the Cal game is if I'm thinking about the ankle," he muses. But that play was pretty compelling evidence that he is not giving a second thought to his ankle when he is out on the court.
This all being said, he is experiencing some pain that makes life a little difficult right now.
"It feels a little sore after practice," Haryasz reports. "And when I get home it really starts to tighten up. But when I'm on the court, it does fine."
"They have me taped up awfully tight - almost like a boot," he chuckles.
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