Iowa guard Mike Gesell did something this spring that he’s never done before when it comes to basketball.
In order for a stress reaction in his right foot to heal properly, Gesell went almost a month without doing anything basketball related, including shooting baskets. It was the first time he had been away from the game for that long since he started playing competitively.”
“It was terrible,” Gesell said Friday afternoon in a telephone interview. “It wasn’t fun it all. But I had to stay disciplined because I just want this healthy and I don’t want it lingering.
“But it’s definitely not fun. I just love the game and I love to play just about every day. So it was tough to take all that time off.”
The rest appears to have worked because Gesell said he no longer feels any pain in his foot.
“It feels great,” he said. “It hasn’t been hurting at all lately.”
Gesell is now shooting baskets and doing individual drills on a daily basis while staying these past few weeks at his parents’ home in South Sioux City, Neb.
Gesell said he will be examined by a doctor as a precautionary measure after he returns to Iowa City next week before he starts playing in pick-up games. He expects to play in the Prime Time League, which will start June 20 at the North Liberty Community Center.
“That’s my guess, unless the coaches say something to where they don’t want me playing,” Gesell said. “But I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing in it.”
Gesell played in 34 games last season as a freshman, starting 30 times. He missed the last four regular-season games because of the injury and then battled through the pain during Iowa’s march to a runner-up finish in the National Invitation Tournament. Gesell played in all five NIT games, but was in noticeable pain.
“There is not much you can do as far as rehab except for rest,” Gesell said. “So I knew in the season that it wouldn’t start getting better until after the season was finally done and I could just take some time off.”
In addition to not playing basketball, Gesell also was careful to not put any significant pressure on his foot during his recovery.
“I took almost a whole month where I didn’t shoot, all I did was lift (weights),” Gesell said. “I didn’t even do a lot of leg lifts or all that stuff, just to really keep the pressure off it.
“And then I started shooting and getting back in to it slowly and then progressively started doing more and more.”
The 6-foot-1 Gesell is the only Hawkeye freshman to finish with at least 295 points, 85 assists and 85 rebounds during a season. He also had 40 steals, which is tied for the sixth most by an Iowa freshman in school history.
The time away from basketball made Gesell appreciate the game even more.
“I knew what I was missing, but I think I missed it a little bit more than I thought I would,” said Gesell, who made first-team all-state three times in high school. “When they finally told me I could start shooting again, it was a great feeling just to get out there and start shooting again.”
Gesell is optimistic that he’ll hear good news from his doctor next week.
“They just want the doctor to take one last look at it just to make sure it’s good,” Gesell said. “I’m pretty sure all he’s going to say is ‘You’re fine and you’re good to go.’ That’s my opinion.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball