Cordell Pemsl 'questionable' as Iowa tries to regroup vs. Southern

Hawkeyes forward suffered deep laceration of right shin, but no fracture

Iowa Hawkeyes forward Cordell Pemsl (35) is led off the court after being injured Thursday against Iowa State at HIlton Coliseum. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes forward Cordell Pemsl (35) is led off the court after being injured Thursday against Iowa State at HIlton Coliseum. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — In two of the last three games, the Iowa men’s basketball team has seen injuries to members of its frontcourt that unfortunately mirror the way a few of its losses have come about.

Said player was playing well, offering a spark for the Hawkeyes before an injury removed that spark. That’s not unlike the Iowa offense as a whole — sparking, clicking for a time, then a sputtering stop.

On Thursday night at Iowa State, it was Cordell Pemsl who fit that bill. While offering a productive 17 minutes — 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists with no turnovers — the sophomore chased after a loose ball out of bounds. He careened past a media table, hit a chair and landed at the feet of the Cyclones’ student section.

The tumble left him with a deep laceration of his right shin, but fortunately for him and the Hawkeyes, no fracture. He’s questionable for Sunday’s game against Southern, according to Iowa officials.

“We thought it might’ve been worse than it is (initially),” head coach Fran McCaffery said after the game Thursday, before Pemsl’s trip to the hospital. “He played great. I’m really proud of him.”

Pemsl has a penchant for putting his body on the line to chase loose balls like the one Thursday. When Iowa was at Virginia Tech, Pemsl chased a ball on the sideline and ended up clearing the courtside seats and landing behind them before eventually returning to the game.

He joined teammate Ryan Kriener in the category of derailed contributors. Kriener had five points, four rebounds and two assists in just seven minutes against Penn State before sustaining a head injury that put him in the concussion protocol and forced him to miss the game at Indiana.

Pemsl’s availability for the game Sunday being questionable, plus the caliber of opponent, could mean it would make sense for him to sit out and heal fully before Iowa’s following game, the Hy-Vee Classic matchup with Drake in Des Moines on Dec. 16.

His teammates offered words of support for Pemsl after the game, and he tweeted late Thursday night, “Thank you to everyone who reached out to me. I will be okay. I’m in great hands. God always has a plan in store. Just have to believe.”

“Any time you get hurt, it sucks,” teammate Tyler Cook said. “But Cordell is as tough as they come, so I have no doubt that regardless of what it comes out as, he’ll be fine.”

Kriener returned against the Cyclones with two points, three rebounds and no turnovers in six minutes. Pemsl’s return will be eagerly anticipated, as he’s averaging 5.7 points and 5.8 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game.

The symbolism in Cook’s words — echoed by his teammates — in lifting up Pemsl can translate to the team as a whole. With five games left before the return to conference play, there’s really no other option for the Hawkeyes, Cook said.

“That’s the only thing there is to do,” Cook said. “If we get down, there’s no improvement for us. Me using the voice that I have, I’m going to try to help encourage the guys, and I know they’ll do the same for me.

“We’re all going to help each other get better.”

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