Nov. 12, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- One year ago, Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa as student-athletes. Exactly one year later, the Sioux City area duo sparked the Hawkeyes to a season-opening victory against UT-Pan American.
The highly-touted freshmen tandem were looking forward to their Hawkeye debuts, and didn't disappoint.
Woodbury, who scored 10 points against the Broncs, grew up watching Hawkeye games since he was 6-years-old.
"Friday was a great experience," said Woodbury, a 7-foot-1 center. "I think the hair on my back stood up a little bit when I came out of the tunnel. I grew up my whole life working for this moment and getting the win... you couldn't ask for much more."
Woodbury also blocked three of the team's 10 shots, which are the most since Iowa's 2005 team swatted 10 shots against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
"I felt confident coming into the game," said Woodbury. "I was more comfortable and had more rhythm than in the exhibition."
Woodbury, who is ambidextrous, settled in after missing his first couple shots.
"I'm extremely confident in both hands," Woodbury said. "I work on that every day in practice. If I can keep the defense guessing which side I'm going, that's only going to be beneficial to me."
Gesell was especially pumped for Friday's opener since it coincided with his 19th birthday. He did a phenomenal job directing the Hawkeye offense. The 6-foot-1 point guard, whose dream has been to be a Hawkeye since he was a kid, finished with seven points, four assists and three rebounds.
"It was exciting to have a game on my birthday," Gesell said. "We've been working hard in practice, and it was nice to start the year out with a win. Our coaches did an excellent job preparing us. I had confidence in my game, which took away the nerves."
UI head coach Fran McCaffery liked what he saw out of the two freshmen.
"They were terrific," said McCaffery. "Mike was solid the whole game. He kept pushing it and played great defense. Adam got it going defensively in the second half. That's because he runs and he is always where he's supposed to be."
Sophomore Aaron White was also complimentary of how the freshmen performed in their collegiate debut.
"The freshmen are big time," said White. "They're very professional. Mike, Adam and all the freshmen are real assets to this team."
The Hawkeyes return to action tonight against Central Michigan at 6:30 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a game which can be seen on the BTN (BTN2GO).
Gesell said the Hawkeyes can improve in a couple areas between games.
"We have to value every possession and get after it defensively," said Gesell. "One of our major goals is to be a much better defensive team. We're working on that every day in practice... we showed spurts of that Friday, and we'll continue to get better."