Benson Returns Eyeing A Better Opportunity
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
By Mark Bodenrader, D-League.com
Orem, Utah, January 6, 2009 - He’s back. Rod Benson. The closest thing the NBA D-League has to a rock star.
After playing two seasons in the D-League with the Austin Toros and Dakota Wizards, Benson failed to receive a call-up to the NBA, even despite being the league’s leading rebounder last season. As a result, the 6-10 center out of Cal made the decision to take his game overseas with the hope that it would help further his career.
The loss of Benson threatened to not only affect the Wizards but his growing online following as well. Benson has his own web site – www.TooMuchRodBenson.com -- and also authors a superb blog over on Yahoo! Sports' Ball Don't Lie which has built up quite a nice readership as well as acclaim. Saying he operates one of the more entertaining blogs in all of sports would not be a stretch.
Fortunately, Benson managed to maintain his blog overseas and satisfy his faithful fanboys, although he admits there wasn’t much to write about.
“When you’re watching the game I have the same thing to say every day: ‘There’s a game and I’m not in it,’” said Benson.
As you may have deduced, Benson’s European excursion didn’t go quite as he had hoped. Benson joined the team SLUC Nancy in France and struggled to see action from the get-go.
“The problem was I went over there to play, to get better and to have an opportunity to further my career,” said Benson. “I just wasn’t getting enough playing time, which I thought I deserved.”
Sensing the situation wasn’t going to improve any time soon and that the better opportunity to get noticed was in the D-League, Benson made the decision to head back to the States. He returned to Dakota on January 2, suiting up for the Wizards in their 106-101 defeat in Los Angeles.
“It’s nothing against playing ball overseas but coming back here I’ll be coming back to the basketball I’ve learned to play for the last couple years,” said Benson. “I should be able to get re-acclimated and get comfortable with it quickly and just have fun.”
The transition back to the D-League has been less than smooth so far though.
First, there’s the matter of getting back into game shape after not being able to see much action overseas. Benson views the Showcase as a great chance to do so.
“Today is a big step in that it’s about the wind, the lungs, the legs and also just playing a completely different style of basketball from the last few months,” said Benson, who had probably his most productive outing since rejoining the team, posting seven points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench Tuesday in the Wizards' Showcase opener -- a 115-110 defeat of Iowa.
On top of getting his legs under him, Benson intends to focus on lifting weights and becoming stronger – a beneficial side effect of his experience overseas.
Second, Benson admits that even though he has played with many of his Wizards teammates before, the meshing process doesn’t occur as rapidly as people might think.
“It’s like going from night to day basically,” said Benson. “No matter how comfortable you are with the guys, there’s going to be a transition period. Thankfully, since I know them and I know the coach and the staff, it’ll make that transition period shorter and that’s the goal.”
Third, Benson has to return to Bismarck, North Dakota… during the winter. Although, it must be noted that Benson said that is something he is actually looking forward to.
“In a weird way I am excited to go back to Dakota,” said Benson. “It’s about 20 below zero right now and there are blizzards and all that, but I’m excited to go back to my old stomping grounds. You’ve got to understand that when I was in France I was dreaming about going to Ground Round and Buffalo Wild Wings and all that stuff because it didn’t exist. I’ll get tired of it sooner or later, but right now I’m excited to go back.”
And we’re excited he’s back.