The Iowa point guard discusses the proposal at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Even when it came to his engagement, Mike Gesell had to think like a point guard.
The Iowa basketball player went into a four-corners offense when he realized his planned proposal site — center court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena — was tied up with a band concert on the night of Nov. 9, his 22nd birthday.
Team managers, who were enlisted to help with the staging, got messages to Gesell that he needed to stall. So a guy who has started 100 career Division I games at point guard reacted accordingly.
“Went to ice cream, walked around the Pentacrest, went to Wal-Mart,” he said. “I was really stretching it.”
But the concert eventually ended, and Gesell arrived at Carver-Hawkeye — with music playing on speakers and rose petals and candles on the basketball floor. Kennedy Bradley said yes.
“She had no idea,” Gesell said, “so I think I did a pretty good job.”
Gesell and Bradley have dated for a little over six months. They met each other at The Salt Company, a Christian campus ministry that meets on Thursday nights at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.
Gesell, a senior who earned his finance degree in three years, said they’re looking at a wedding date in August. Who knew the nation’s fifth-leading assist man (at 8.3 per game) was such a romantic?
“That’s my other side people don’t see,” he said with a grin.
At Iowa, like all Power 5 schools, football leads the way in paying athletic-department bills. So the 11-0, third-ranked Hawkeye football team benefits all 24 sports teams, even the No. 2 money-generator, men’s basketball.
“It helps every program here, there's no question about that,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We probably had 16 or 17 recruits on the field before the Minnesota game (Nov. 14).
“The publicity they are getting every night is great publicity for our school, for our athletic department, and everybody is talking about the Hawkeyes. So that's something we're very proud of, we take great pride in, and we're just thrilled for Kirk (Ferentz) and his staff and players.”
If the 3-0 basketball team can win Thursday’s 8 p.m. opener vs. Dayton (3-0) in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Fla., they wouldn’t play until 8:30 Friday night — which means they could watch some of the 2:30 p.m. football game between Iowa and Nebraska. Gesell, who grew up a Cornhuskers fan in South Sioux City, Neb., said he’ll be pulling for the Hawkeyes.
“They’re doing something right over there,” center Adam Woodbury said. “They continue to win, whoever’s in front of them.”
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Through three games, the Hawkeyes are scoring 34.7 percent of their points from 3-point range — compared with 24.3 percent a year ago. It helps that Iowa has rained in 12 3-pointers the last two games and is shooting 41.9 percent from deep (vs. 33.3 percent last year).
Dale Jones, a 6-foot-7 junior college transfer, has helped provide instant offense with six 3-pointers on 14 attempts. He’s also earned more trust with McCaffery with his improving defense.
“He's a lot better,” McCaffery said. “I mean, he's really trying to complete the picture. … He's not afraid to shoot it at any time, but the defensive component was where he had to work.”
Knowing that Iowa has less inside bulk than last year’s NCAA Tournament round-of-32 team, McCaffery has given Jones the green light.
“He gives us confidence in our shot,” Jones said. “I think that’s helping us right now.”
Up next for Iowa
Matchup: Iowa (3-0) vs. Dayton (3-0)
Where: Advocare Invitational, HP Field House, Orlando, Fla.
Time, TV: 8 p.m., Thursday, ESPN2