Gesell Ready for Big Spots

Iowa freshman Mike Gesell is ready to take the ball..and the pressure

Iowa CITY, Iowa - It's an overused word in sports. Many try to achieve it. The ones who do it usually succeed.

Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery says his freshman point guard Mike Gesell has intense focus. He was a valedictorian in high school as well as Nebraska's top basketball player.

"it's his make-up," McCaffery said. "If you know him, and if you're around him at all -- and this is a very strong statement. There have been very few, if any, more focused athletes I've ever been around. Very similar to Matt Gatens in that respect, and I could name some of the great players that I've had over the years. Talk about having the ability to focus and keep your day in order."

The veteran coach believes in the South Sioux City native. Gesell is expected to be the starting point guard and it has seemed that way since he committed last year to the program.

"It's been my dream since I was little," Gesell said of the position in which he finds himself. "I'm basically getting to live my dream right now. I'm trying to stay focused and continuing to work hard. I almost feel like a little kid in a candy store. That's how excited I am."

Gesell's excitement might only be matched by his confidence. Outsiders seem to be fretting over him leading a Big Ten team as a freshman way more than does he.

"I don't find pressure from it," the 6-foot-1, 185-pound redhead said. "I'm confident in my own abilities and the way I've practice and the way that I've prepared myself for this.

"I know I still have a ton of improvements to make. I know that every day there are different things I can work on. But I don't look at it as pressure. If you feel the pressure, you're not going to play up to your potential. Don't play to make mistakes, play to do things well."

Said McCaffery: "Those are the qualities that typically differentiate a freshman who comes off the bench and contributes versus one who is capable of being a starter and engineering a victory on a regular basis."

When the coach received his first academic report on Gesell, it consisted of perfect grades.

"It's never, "Where's Mike?,"" McCaffery said ""We can't find him. He's not in class. We were supposed to have a meeting. He didn't show up."

"Well, nothing but A's. Nothing but A's in high school."

Said Gesell: "My parents always engrained in me since I was little that academics always come first."

Gesell works hard for accomplishments. He achieves them. Confidence soars.

"I definitely feel like I'm ready," Gesell said. "To be any good, you've got to be confident in yourself. I feel like I can step in here and make an impact on the team, however that is, whether it's making guys better in practice, building that chemistry up, being a leader. I'm willing to do it."

Gesell passed his first test on Sunday, leading Iowa with 18 points in just 19 minutes in their 100-54 win against Quincy in an Exhibition contest.

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