Bio: Sophomore, 6'1, 190 (South Sioux City, NE)
2012-13 stats: 25.1 minutes per game, 8.7 points per game, 2.6 assists per game, 2.6 rebounds per game
What we saw last season
A surprisingly solid contributor on a team that desperately needed it. His Hawkeye Sports dot com bio says that Gesell was the only freshman in the history of the program to post 295 points, 85 rebounds, and 85 assists in a single season. And while arbitrary numbers are arbitrary, there's little to doubt about a freshman point guard who got 30 starts, spread the ball around effectively, shot a semi-respectable 31.7 percent from behind the arc, proved himself to be a competent perimeter defender and deft pickpocket, and exhibited the leadership qualities you hope to get from the guy who will replace Roy Devyn Marble in 2014.
Injuries are a bit of a concern, though. Gesell was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot in mid-February. The injury forced him to miss four games and clearly hobbled him upon his return; Gesell played no more than 19 minutes in any of Iowa's five NIT games, and managed just eight minutes agaisnt Virginia and eleven in the semifinals against Maryland. Gesell also broke a bone in his non-shooting hand during a PTL game, forcing him to sit out Iowa's five games in England and France. They are both fluke injuries -- you can't really train to avoid a stress fracture or a broken finger -- but Mike needs to get back on the floor.
What we need to see this season
Gesell was brought to Iowa to play the point, but his February injury forced Iowa to move Marble back to that spot. Marble shows no signs of giving it up, forcing Gesell to either come off the bench or temporarily move to shooting guard. Playing a capable ballhandler at the off-guard is probably a good thing, especially given the size and questionable dribbling skills of Iowa's frontcourt, but Gesell is going to have to shoot more efficiently from the perimeter if he hopes to hold a starting position. An uptick in shooting percentage and offensive production, coupled with continued improvement on the defensive end, would be a reasonable request for a sophomore season.
Gesell finds his form again after Iowa's trip to the Bahamas, finally getting enough practice and court time to compensate for his lost spring and summer. He starts at shooting guard in Iowa's last 20 games, essentially getting the ball across halfcourt for Marble when needed, jumping errant perimeter passes, and knocking down an occasional jump shot. Something like 11 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds would be good.
Most likely scenario
McCaffery finds that (1) he has a boatload of options at shooting guard, depending on the opponent, (2) having Gesell in reserve for when Marble is exhausted or has that circuit go off in his brain that makes him throw the ball around the court for a few minutes is an extremely good thing, and (3) giving Gesell a lighter workload probably wouldn't hurt. Gesell spends the season in a situational rotation at shooting guard, entering at the point when Marble isn't in the game. His production dips slightly, but his role remains as crucial as before. There are a couple of overheated "What Happened to Gesell?" posts here and elsewhere. It becomes his team in 2014-15.
Can we get one of those moving walkways installed in Carver Hawkeye Arena so that Gesell and Peter Jok can work the crowd into a frenzy by doing the Soulja Boy dance before games?
If you really are concerned about stadium atmosphere, Gary Barta, this is a must-have item.