Justin Davis: "I won't play"

That is the answer the Stanford fifth-year senior power forward gave tonight when asked about his new medical update. If you held out hope that he could make a token appearance Saturday for Senior Day, then this will disappoint you. We are left with more questions than answers after his MRI results today on his injured left knee, but here is the best and latest information on your favorite Stanford senior forward.

Today was the big day that we all expected the news to finally come on the left knee MRI for Justin Davis. It was precisely four weeks ago at Oregon State that he turned his knee while scrambling for a loose ball rebound, and the hope was that he would have good news before tonight's home contest against those same Beavers. The greatest fear for Cardinalmaniacs™ was that the MRI news could spell doom, revealing that the Stanford senior would be out for the remainder of the season.

What we learned was something in between. Davis is neither cleared for a return to practices, nor is he lost for the year.

"The MRI definitely showed there is still bone bruising," the injured forward reports. "That part will take the longest to heal."

"But I can play with a little bruise. A little boo-boo," Davis adds with a grin.

In essence, the results do not tell us much of anything new. We are still in a holding pattern awaiting the return of this athletic power forward, with no concrete evidence that points to a specific return. Tomorrow, he will still be on a regimen of riding the excercise bike and swimming in the pool. He cannot handle a basketball on the court against another person; at best he can shoot in a defenseless drill. No running or jumping is allowed.

The bottom-line question all Stanford fans want answered is how soon will Davis be back. His simplest answer, told this evening to The Bootleg:

"I think I could be back in a week and a half," he professes. "I'm not disappointed. I was originally told it would be four to six weeks, and today is four weeks. I should be good by six weeks. If this was the seventh week and I still had more time to go, then I would be upset."

Davis adds that he does not necessarily anticipate another MRI. The two key determinants he will now be monitoring are the stability and strength of his knee.

"When I go to make a move, I need to feel solid," he describes. "It depends on how my body cooperates."

Teammates and coaches alike referenced Davis in their post-game comments. Nobody danced around the issue, and were clear in their understanding that he is not joining them anytime too soon. Even freshman Fred Washington, who should have been basking in the glow of his career-high 11 points, addressed his fallen teammate.

"I'd rather have Justing playing - have us at full strength," Washington declares. "I'd rather be playing five minutes."

Head coach Mike Montgomery was quick to point out afterward that the Card were outrebounded by the undersized Beavers, for the second time this year. Though he could have made the excuse that the battles on the boards will be righted once he has back his star power forward, the coach instead reminded us that this team needs to rebound with what they have today.

"We're not going to have Justin for a while," Montgomery says matter of factly. "So we'd better learn to rebound without him."

Saturday will be Senior Day for Stanford as they host Oregon in the final home game of the year. There is nothing Justin Davis wants more than to take the floor in front of his family and friends. Fans have taken a real rooting interest for him to enjoy that farewell moment, as well. But it is time to recognize that it will not happen. His return will be another day. It may be the Pac-10 Tournament, if his projection proves correct. But we don't really know too much more tonight than we knew this morning.


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