Raw Rookie Rand Works To Adjust

Ben Rand, the sharpshooter from Rochelle, Illinois, is making the transition from high school to college. His play in the PTl has improved as he has learned from his teammates. Sidelined by a minor injury, Rand reflects on the past and looks forward to his future as a Hawkeye.

Ben Rand would have struggled to conceal his identity in a lineup. The look on his face screamed, "yeah, I'm the freshman."

That wide-eyed stare has faded a little since his arrival at the Prime Time League. But the first-year Iowa guard knew realistically that this was the just the beginning of a valuable learning experience.

"I expect myself to have to grow up pretty quick," said Rand, who came to campus about five weeks ago and has been in classes both on and off of the court.

"I had to do that the first couple of weeks just trying to do your laundry and stuff like that. It's going to be the same stuff getting in there and playing. I'm going to be nervous. That's part of everybody's freshman season. Unless you're Carmelo Anthony, you kind of go through it. Freshman year is kind of a struggle."

Anthony led Syracuse to the National Championship last season in his first year. He then jumped into the NBA Draft, where he was selected third overall last month.

Repeating Anthony's success would be great, but Rand just hopes to fit in. Luckily, the Rochelle, Ill., native has assistance.

"Whenever they ask you for something, you always help them out," Iowa sophomore Greg Brunner said of Rand and fellow freshman Mike Henderson. "We're always there for them. They know that."

Rand and Henderson have impressed Brunner. And the veterans have stayed away from any initiation pranks, although sometimes the temptation has been there.

"I have trouble doing laundry every once in awhile," Brunner said. "I kind of lose my motivation. I wouldn't mind if they took over that job."

The initiation has taken place on the court. The 6-foot-5 Rand often has been matched against slick moving guard Pierre Pierce in scrimmages.

Rand injured his thumb in defending Pierce in a Tuesday practice. The freshman strained ligaments when his digit got caught in his teammate's clothing.

A trainer wrapped up Rand's injured hand so that he could play in Thursday's PTL action. He expected it to fully recover in about a week.

Rand appreciates the guidance offered to him by his teammates. He often brings up the name of senior center Jared Reiner when explaining this advantage.

"You just kind of listen to all of the other guys, the guys that have been there," Rand said. "You really just try to soak up as much information as you can about the system, about just playing in the Big Ten in general. You take it from there."

Rand amassed more than 2,000 points in his career at Rochelle High. At 6-5, he stood as one of the taller players in his small-school conference. Many of his baskets came from close range.

Those points have been harder to come by in the PTL.

"It's tough," Rand said. "I mean this isn't high school anymore. The centers aren't 6-4. When you get in the lane, you've got to find a way to get your shot. If you can't go in and dunk, you have to be creative."

A redshirt year could allow Rand time to acclimate himself to the college game.

"There hasn't been talk yet," he said. "That's something the coaches will figure out. That's really not on my mind at all right now. We'll see how that goes as the season gets closer."

Rand possesses a reliable 3-point shooting touch. Iowa would like to improve in that area. His biggest adjustment might be figuring out when to attempt that shot.

"That's one of the toughest adjustments," Brunner said. "In high school, you're the go-to guy and most of the shots are acceptable. Here, everybody was the go-to guy, and you have to find the best opportunity in the offense."

Rand likely will hear and say the word "adjustment" a lot this season. He already uses it often.

"It's a lot different than a high school setting," the freshman said. "The first couple of weeks, starting class at 8 (a.m.) and not getting home until late at night, was different for me. But I'm getting used to it and really starting to enjoy it a lot."

Rand has his teammates close by to help. He shares a townhouse with Henderson. Brunner, Reiner, Jeff Horner, Sean Sonderleiter and Brody Boyd all live in the neighborhood.

"This is one of the closest teams that I've ever been on," Rand said. "Everybody hangs out with everybody. It's a big reason why I came to Iowa."

Rand also likes Iowa City. It represents a population increase over Rochelle, which has about 10,000 people.

"I love it so far," he said. "There's a lot to do."

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