IOWA CITY — Mike Gesell was injury free through the end of 2012. But 2013 has been unkind to the Iowa sophomore.
He suffered a stress reaction in his right foot midway through February and hobbled through the rest of the season. His foot fully healed by the summer but in a July 18 Prime Time League game, Gesell broke the second metacarpal in left hand. He’s still wearing a cast and will not be able to play in Europe next week.
“I came off a screen and went to throw a pass and got my hand hit,” Gesell said in his first interview since the injury. “I didn’t even get hit very hard, but I came out hurting pretty bad. So I came out during the game and found out it was broken.”
Gesell, a 6-foot-1 guard from South Sioux City, Neb., originally thought his finger was dislocated but noticed his hand was swelling quickly. He immediately left the arena and met with trainer Brad Floy. Gesell went to the hospital, was fitted for a temporary cast, then received a permanent cast the next morning.
“Everything was lined up really good so no surgery was required,” Gesell said. “So I got pretty lucky that way. They knew it was a pretty easy healing process.”
Gesell obviously is frustrated by his run of injuries.
“It kind of stinks,” he said. “I was just talking with Coach (Fran McCaffery) yesterday. I don’t think I’ve been through a full practice since February. It’s tough going through injuries like this. I’m trying to stay positive. It’s better now than in the season. I’m going to be that much more ready to go when the season gets here.”
Gesell started 30 games and played in four others. He missed Iowa’s final four regular season games, then returned as a starter in the Big Ten Tournament an opening NIT game. His foot injury prevented him using his lateral quickness and playing more than a few minutes at a time.
He was the only freshman in Iowa history to score at 295 points, grab 85 rebounds and dish 85 assists in a season. He averaged 8.7 points a game last year.
“Very frustrating, especially in light of the fact of how his season ended,” McCaffery said. “I don’t know if there was a more productive player that we were trying to nurse through the last 11 games. His productivity for the amount of minutes he played was incredible. I wanted him to be able to get back and play pain free. I don’t think we’ll do much in terms of pushing him here.”
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