NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – If he could, Mike Gesell would live in a gym.
Always has. Always will.
The Iowa sophomore enjoys working on his game, developing skills that it takes to be successful.
Gesell didn’t have the chance to do that for more than a month after the Hawkeyes completed their run to the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament.
Following doctor’s orders, Gesell put the basketball down and did the only he could to allow a stress reaction in his right foot to heal properly. He gave it time.
“There wasn’t anything easy about it,’’ Gesell said.
No shooting. No dribbling. No conditioning.
“It was awful, but it was something that I had to do,’’ Gesell said after a recent Prime Time League game. “I play almost every day and I don’t think I’d taken any time off like that since I was probably in like third, fourth grade. I love the game.’’
But it had to be done.
“It tested me. There were days when it was tempting to pick up a ball and take a few shots, but I couldn’t do that,’’ Gesell said. “The doctors said the only way I could get over it and totally heal was to rest it, so that’s what I did. That was the only rehab — don’t do it.’’
Gesell, who averaged 8.7 points while starting 30 games last season as a freshman, was able to lift weights during his time away from the game, but he was told to avoid putting any pressure on the foot which limited his playing time during the final weeks of his freshman season.
He was allowed to start taking a few shots earlier this month and two weeks ago, he was allowed to resume full workouts and compete in the summer Prime Time League.
In some strange way, Gesell believes the time away from the game will benefit him.
“I think it probably did me some good to sit back and watch a little. I think it helped me gain a little understanding of things that should help me as I get back into it now,’’ Gesell said. “I’ll see situations a little differently because of it and that is a good thing. I think it will help me as I continue to push myself to get better.’’
He’s also learned how to adjust his game to deal with situations.
“I wasn’t as explosive and I couldn’t move certain ways, so I had to try to be a little more crafty,’’ Gesell said. “I think that helped me with my game. I think it helped me slow things down a bit and be more selective.’’