The purpose of the exploratory surgery is diagnostic to determine what is causing some swelling in McMahan's right knee. It's the same knee she had repaired 10 months ago after tearing an ACL at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tenn. She also suffered a bone bruise to the knee in September.
Dr. Greg Mathien, the team's orthopedist – longtime orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Youmans has retired – will perform the surgery, and Moshak said they are expecting the procedure to reveal the need for some maintenance-type cleanup. An MRI that Cait McMahan had after experiencing pain in the knee revealed the ACL was fine, but an arthroscopic procedure will confirm that and take care of any residual issues.
If all goes as anticipated McMahan would only miss two to three weeks.
"I'm optimistic," coach Pat Summitt said Thursday morning.
"We want to address this now and get it behind us and not have to be concerned about it all year long. Jenny was pretty optimistic about everything. You have to listen to the body, and the body was indicating that she was swelling so therefore something is going on."
While McMahan did some courtside rehab, the rest of the team went through an early morning practice at Thompson-Boling Arena that began at 6 a.m. and ended shortly after 7:30 a.m. so that the players could get to class. Freshman forward Nicci Moats, who also is coming off season-ending knee surgery that wiped out her senior year in high school, partipated in her second complete practice. The team continued along its accelerated path with new concepts introduced and wrinkles added to the offensive schemes and defensive presses.
"A lot of times it's good to get them up," Summitt said. "It gives them the rest of the day to do their schoolwork and then have some time off."
The team continues to impress its coach because they responded well despite the early hour and the session coming on the heels of a lengthy and tiring afternoon practice on Wednesday.
"It's not my favorite time of practice. It was good today. As long as they come in … a lot of times they're sleepwalking particularly when you had a practice that didn't end until 3:30 in the afternoon the day before," Summitt said. "But I thought they did a nice job. We didn't bring in the practice guys. We wanted it more just shelling and trying to do some teaching as opposed to doing a lot of contact."
Summitt is comfortable with adding information at this early point in the season because the players absorbed a lot already during preseason workouts.
"I think first of all just having the skill work time in the fall. You're able to get a lot of shots in and just work on your skills," she said. "And then when you can have the whole team, you can start teaching team concepts. I just think it's really good because when you start your full practice they have an awareness. It's not like you're starting from scratch. They know the terminology. I just think they're sharper and then certainly we can fast-forward things."
The team will return to practice Friday afternoon at the arena.