Davis To Return Thursday

We reported to you earlier today via <i>Hot News</i> that Stanford fifth-year senior power forward Justin Davis is back in practices this week, and that this afternoon's workout would be a critical test for him. Upon speaking with the team trainer immediately after the practice concluded, we now believe that Davis will take the floor Thursday for Stanford's opening game of the Pac-10 Tournament...

Justin Davis took part in various halfcourt workouts Monday at the Ford Center, while today's practice was longer, more intense, and would ask him to run up and down the floor.  There were two tests for the fab forward today.  The first was to see how his knee felt today after yesterday's workout, easily the most he has done in any basketball capacity since the January injury.  The second test would be how his knee felt with today's extended workout.

"It looks good," says Stanford trainer Andrew Tai of the knee this afternoon.  "There is some swelling, but not more than you would expect for someone who has not practiced for six weeks."

Tai was also very satisfied with how Davis moved today in practice, while monitoring the knee.  The senior forward wore a brace on the knee and was an aggressive participant in much of the practice before pulling himself out late and finishing the afternoon shooting free throws.

"He needs to let us know when he's hurting," comments Tai.  "I'm sure Coach Montgomery would have loved to have gotten a full practice from Justin, but he did well."

The trainer's recommendation to Montgomery is a thumbs up, and Tai says that he expects Davis to play Thursday in Stanford's next game.  They will play Washington State in the Pac-10 Tournament opener.  The final medical clearance does not come from Tai, but the team doctor, Colin Eakin.

Davis last played in a college basketball game on January 29 at Oregon State, when he injured his knee in the opening minutes of the second half.  Shortly afterward, we reported that he would be out four to six weeks, and this Thursday will mark exactly six weeks since that injury.

Before his injury, Davis was averaging 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and was Stanford's leading offensive rebounder - despite missing the last eight games he still leads the team in total offensive boards (54).  He also presents a completely different offensive threat in the low post from Stanford's other power forwards, with an array of moves and lightning quickness anywhere inside 10 feet with his back to the basket.

The effect of Davis' return also has a peripheral benefit to the team, as they are experiencing a surge in excitement and enthusiasm upon seeing their once-fallen teammate rejoin them in practices.  There have been a lot of ear-to-ear grins the past two days as players have watched the senior forward's successful return to practices.

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