Gesell makes return to Hawkeye basketball lineup in time for Big Ten Tournament

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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Mike Gesell missed the last four games for the Iowa men’s basketball team after injuring his right foot, but the freshman is set to make his return to the lineup despite the pain.

Gesell suffered a stress reaction — a disruption of bone metabolism due to repeated stress, but not a stress fracture — and watched as his teammates finished the regular season winning three of their last four games.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in Monday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference that he expects Gesell to play. He followed up on Tuesday by saying it was a “good possibility” that Gesell would start against Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament tonight.

Gesell said he’s ready.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “My foot’s getting better every day, just trying to ease into it and trying to get ready.”

The South Sioux City, Neb., native said he first noticed discomfort a few days before the team traveled to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers on Feb. 21. He brushed it off, initially, but the pain “came on quick” after the game in Lincoln.

“After the game, it just started hurting really bad,” Gesell said. “I didn’t know what happened. It was almost like a stabbing feeling. It’s just a really sharp pain, just in that one spot.”

McCaffery said Gesell only participated in about 30 percent of the practice activities on Monday, and the coaches were trying to bring him along a little at a time. The freshman did other types of workouts to keep his stamina up, but McCaffery said it’s tough to know just where Gesell’s energy is right now.

“He didn’t do a lot of up and down, so that would be hard to say,” McCaffery said. “He did a lot of workouts in the pool while he was out, so hopefully, it’ll be OK.”

The freshman also isn’t pain-free.

“It’s still hurting me a little bit,” Gesell said. “We’re kind of trying to push the process along a little faster so I can play. But you never know; once you get out there, when that adrenaline is pumping, I may not feel it at all.”

Gesell said he considers himself a competitor, and is willing to do anything he can to help the team win going forward. But he said he has to be careful not to put pride and desire ahead of the team’s success.

Playing through pain to help the team win is one thing, but knowing when you’re doing more harm than good is difficult sometimes, he said.

“I’ve just got to be honest with myself,” Gesell said. “I can’t try to be the superhero. You’ve got to be honest, let my body talk to me and just see how it feels.”

But getting Gesell back just in time for the conference tournament — in which most analysts say the Hawkeyes must make a deep run if they hope to reach the NCAA Tournament — is good for the offense.

“It brings another scorer, another shooter, another ball handler,” Devyn Marble said. “Somebody that can create for others and himself late in shot clocks and late in the game when we need quality shots.”

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