It's a tough line to balance. At one time, the Cyclones would love to have back the player who, Fred Hoiberg said, "has done everything for us," and on the other, there's a huge long-term risk in rushing a player back from a knee injury.
That's where the Cyclones stand with Melvin Ejim, the Big 12's leader last year in rebounds and double-doubles who tweaked his knee days before Iowa State's exhibition game. Ejim, initially, was expected to miss four to six weeks, which plots his return around December, in time for games against Northern Iowa and Iowa.
But Hoiberg said Ejim is "ahead of schedule." If the next MRI comes back clean — Ejim feels little pain and the swelling is gone — could he be rushed back for the trip to BYU? Or, even, the Nov. 17 contest against Michigan, two-and-a-half weeks after he suffered the injury?
"Sure, selfishly, we'd all like him to come back early but we don't want him to come back if it's going to further his risk," Hoiberg said. "If there's something that could happen to have any kind of long-term damage, we're not gonna take that chance. As soon as the doctors say he's ready, he'll play.
"As soon as they give him the green light, he'll be out there the next minute."