IOWA CITY, Ia. – Mike Gesell and two of his Iowa basketball teammates, Adam Woodbury and Anthony Clemmons, will go on a little road trip Wednesday.
They’re headed for Woodcliff Lakes in Fremont, Neb. Gesell’s parents, Tom and Vicki, own a cabin there. One of Mike goals is to get the 7-foot-1 Woodbury to go water skiing.
“I think that would be pretty funny to see,” Gesell said.
The trip to Nebraska will be one final bit of rest and relaxation for the Hawkeye sophomores.
“I think they’re going to enjoy it,” Gesell said. “It will be time for us to get away a little bit, and relax, because this is going to be a long season, especially with the overseas trip. So you’ve got to try and find some time to relax every once in awhile.”
Gesell had an unwanted break at the end of his freshman season, missing the Hawkeyes’ final four regular-season games with a stress reaction in his right foot. He returned to play the final seven postseason games.
“It was definitely painful,” said Gesell, a 6-1 guard. “It was almost like a stabbing sensation right in the middle of my foot. I was just trying to push through.”
Gesell’s grit made him a contributor down the stretch.
“It was tough mentally, knowing that some of the moves I’m used to making I couldn’t make,” Gesell said. “I had to be selective in what I was doing. At the same time I’m a competitor. I just wanted to be out there helping my team as much as I could.”
The low point came at Virginia in the quarterfinals of the NIT. Gesell had seven points and two steals while playing 8 minutes of the first half. Then he made a sharp cut, and had to come out. He tried to get loose before the start of the second half.
“I went to shoot a pull-up jumper and said, 'I can’t go. There’s no way I can be out there helping my team with it hurting this bad,’ ” Gesell recalled. “So I had to sit out and try to coach from the bench. I thought at that point that I was maybe done for the season. But the next day I woke up and fortunately it started to feel a little better.”
Gesell played 11 minutes against Maryland in the NIT semifinals, then led the Hawkeyes with 13 points while playing 17 minutes in a title-game loss to Baylor on April 4. He didn’t play another five-on-five game again until the Prime Time League opener on June 20.
“After the season I took a full month off,” Gesell said. “I didn’t touch a basketball. Then they’d only let me take set shots for two or three more weeks. It was close to two months before I was out there going full bore.”
Gesell, who averaged 8.7 points as a rookie, said that Hawkeye fans will see a different player in 2013-14.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable in myself,” Gesell said. “I am gaining a feel for the game. I was a little bit overwhelmed at first by the physicality and quickness of some of the guys. Now I know what’s expected.”
Thursday it’s off to Woodcliff Lakes, for some fun and fireworks on the Fourth of July. The next road trip will come next month, when the Hawkeyes travel to Europe for six exhibition games.
“We’re very hungry,” Gesell said of the Hawkeyes. “We’re a very competitive group of guys.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball