IOWA CITY, Iowa — Will Tyler Cook return before Big Ten play?
Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery doesn’t know. He’s not pinpointing an exact return for the freshman forward.
“I will just bring him back when the doctors say,” McCaffery said. “They say three weeks. As you know is it three weeks exactly? Is it three weeks and five days? Who knows. We will see.”
Cook underwent surgery on a fractured right index finger on Tuesday. He is expected to miss three weeks. The time frame for his return potentially brings him back before the start of Big Ten play.
Iowa opens the league schedule at Purdue on Dec. 28. Three weeks from the surgery date is Dec. 20 and the Hawkeyes host North Dakota that night. Iowa also hosts Delaware State on Dec. 22.
It would be best if Cook could get at least one nonconference game before Big Ten play. He will continue to run and ride the stationary bike during his rehab.
But it’s in the best interest for everyone involved to let him work off any rust before being thrown into the rigors of Big Ten basketball.
If his recovery doesn’t allow it, though, McCaffery will play it safe with Cook. He was the second-best player on the roster before his injury, averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. He’s a former top-40 recruit and is likely the centerpiece of the team for the next few years.
Caution is required, but Iowa should aim for getting in Cook a warmup game before Purdue if possible.