Iowa City, Ia. – When Mike Gesell got his first glimpse of Iowa’s 2012-13 men’s basketball schedule, the opening game was cause for celebration.
The Hawkeyes meet Texas-Pan American at 8 p.m. Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Gesell, a freshman who will start at point guard in his first regular-season college game, will also be celebrating his 19th birthday.
“I’ve got the whole family coming up,” said Gesell, who is from South Sioux City, Neb. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m going to be playing in the first regular-season game of my college career. It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was as little kid.”
There’s another reason to celebrate, beyond 19 candles. A year ago today, Gesell and former AAU teammate Adam Woodbury signed their letters of intent with Iowa.
“I’ve come so far already,” said Woodbury, who grew up a Hawkeye fan in Sioux City and selected Iowa over North Carolina. “This will be a special day for me and my family, to run out there wearing a Hawkeye uniform.”
The 7-foot-1 Woodbury will join Gesell in the starting lineup Friday, the second time in his three seasons as Iowa coach that Fran McCaffery has gone with two rookies on opening night. Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe started for Iowa
in the 2010-11 season opener against South Dakota State.
“We’re very close,” Gesell said. “We’re roommates, too. Adam is a great player, and I think we’ll play well together. We’ll have that chemistry on the court.”
Gesell and Woodbury were Top 100 recruits in the Class of 2012, so big things are expected of both as McCaffery’s rebuilding job continues to gain momentum. McCaffery expects his center to be a work in progress.
“He’s a guy that runs the floor, really defends and rebounds, and he’s going to have some scoring nights when he’s really good and some where’s he’s not as involved,” McCaffery said. “But you can still run your offense through him because of his ability to pass and catch, and he’s very comfortable in that role.”
Woodbury knows that fans expect a lot out of him, but he doesn’t view that as an obstacle.
“It’s hard to live up to everyone’s expectations,” Woodbury said. “You have to go at your own pace. If you know you’re making strides in the right direction, that’s all that matters. I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here.”
WHO: Texas-Pan American at Iowa.
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.
TIPOFF: 8 p.m.
TICKETS: $14 adults, $5 youth (18-under) and UI students.
RADIO: Who-AM (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network.
STAT LEADERS: For Texas-Pan American – Brandon Provost 13.4 ppg; Provost 3.5 rpg; Provost 2.1 apg; for Iowa – Devyn Marble 11.5 ppg; Aaron White 5.7 rpg; Marble 3.6 apg.
ABOUT THE BRONCS: Texas-Pan American returns five of its top six scorers from a 11-21 team.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Iowa is 9-2 when scoring 80 points or more over the last two seasons.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Iowa has lost two of its last three season openers, to Texas-San Antonio (62-50) in 2009-10 and South Dakota State (79-69) in 2010-11.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball