Iowa freshman point guard Mike Gesell is determined to play in Thursday’s game against Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, but he wasn’t ready on Tuesday to guarantee it.
“I’m going to do all I can to try and play, but it’s still up in the air,” Gesell said.
Gesell started the first 27 games this season, but then missed the last four games because of what he described Tuesday as a stress reaction in his right foot. He first noticed the pain in the days leading up to Iowa’s 64-60 loss at Nebraska on Feb. 21 in Lincoln, Neb.
Gesell played 30 minutes against the Cornhuskers, but afterwards the pain in his foot had worsened.
“It wasn’t like anything I really thought of,” Gesell said. “And then after the (Nebraska) game it started hurting really bad and I didn’t know what happened. It just kind of came up quick.”
Gesell said the pain still hasn’t completely subsided. He’s just trying to accelerate the recovery process so he can participate in Thursday’s game at the United Center in Chicago.
“It’s still hurting me a little bit,” Gesell said. “We’re just trying to push the process along a little bit faster, so hopefully, I can play.
“I’m a competitor and I really want to play in it, getting to play at the United Center. I just want what’s best for our team and I want to help this team out in any way I can.”
Gesell wants to play, though, only if he can be productive and make a positive impact. In addition to be Iowa’s third leading scorer with a 9.0 average, Gesell still ranks second on the team with 33 steals and third in assists with 79 despite missing the last four games.
“If I’m not out there doing what I’m capable of doing, if I’m just trying to play through the pain, I’m not helping my teammates,” Gesell said. “So I just want what’s best for the team.
“I just have to be honest with myself. I can’t try to be a super hero. You’ve got to be honest and let my body talk to me.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has gone from being guardedly optimistic last week that Gesell would play in the Big Ten Tournament to now thinking that Gesell might start against Northwestern.
“That would still be up in the air,” McCaffery said. “We’ll see how he does today and tomorrow. It’s a good possibility, though.”
Gesell returned to practice Monday for a light workout and was expected to test the foot again during Tuesday’s practice.
“When I get out there and the adrenaline is pumping I may not feel anything at all,” Gesell said. “There really is not much you can do to treat a bone like that except rest. So the only things I’ve been doing are just working out and trying to keep my conditioning, my lungs, keep them going.”
Gesell said he was told by a doctor that the risk is small that he would make the injury worse by playing this week.
“That’s always a possibility,” Gesell said. “But I talked to the doctor and he said it’s a pretty stable bone. He doesn’t think it would break.
“But if worse comes to worse, I have to sit out a little bit longer in the offseason. But it’s not something where if something worse happened I’d have to get surgery or anything like that. He’s fine with me playing on it as long as it doesn’t hurt too bad.”
Gesell described the pain in his foot as being almost like a “stabbing feeling.”
“It’s just a real sharp pain and just in that one spot,” Gesell said. “Different movements will set it off.”
Gesell had been wearing a protective boot on the foot until recently. He isn’t concerned about his conditioning because he’s been riding a stationary bike and doing water exercises as part of his rehabilitation.
“It’s still not going to be back exactly where I was, but I think that I’ll be fine,” Gesell said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball