Knee Injury To ISU’s Ejim Thins Cyclone Frontcourt For Non-Conference PlayPosted by Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) on October 31st, 2013
One of the biggest keys for Iowa State this season is whether its defense will be good enough to make the Cyclones’ high-powered offense stand up. As someone who led the Big 12 in double-doubles last season, forward Melvin Ejim was going to be a big part of that objective. The preseason all-Big 12 selection led the conference in rebounding last season, but the Cyclones’ prospects of hitting the ground running were dealt a big blow when the team announced Thursday that the senior will miss four to six weeks after hyper-extending his left knee and suffering a bone bruise in practice Wednesday.
The injury will likely keep Ejim out of ISU’s most important non-conference battle, which comes against national runner-up Michigan at Hilton Coliseum on November 17. Barring something unforeseen, he’ll also be sidelined for the Cyclones’ tilt against BYU in Provo three days later. The recovery window pegs his probable return as either December 7 against Northern Iowa or December 13 for another intrastate game against Big Ten sleeper Iowa, though obviously that’s subject to change based on the recovery. In the meantime, look for Fred Hoiberg to try to patch his frontcourt together with one of his patented small lineups. Forward Georges Niang could slide up to the five spot, moving probable starter and JuCo transfer Dustin Hogue to the power forward slot. If Hoiberg finds that he needs a bigger body down low, junior Percy Gibson could see a bump in playing time, though he’ll be an offensive liability if he doesn’t improve from his mediocre sophomore campaign. The trickle-down effect could also push junior Naz Long into meaningful playing time.
The injury really hurts Iowa State’s chances against the Wolverines in a game that many are looking forward to, so the Cyclones and their fans will have to try for a little Hilton Magic – though a three-point barrage from Niang and Matt Thomas would really come in handy. Some solace can be taken in the fact that even with a longer than expected recovery time, Ejim should return for the Diamond Head Classic, where the Cyclones will have a chance to build their NCAA Tournament resume on a neutral floor against a solid (if unspectacular) field.