Dec. 1, 2003
Three-time letterwinner Jared Reiner knows something about pressure.
Last year, the center from Tripp, S.D., led the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 8.3 ards per game. He led the team from the field with a .541 average and tied with Glen Worley for a team best 34 blocked shots.
A finance major, Reiner also led the team with a grade point average that qualifies him for the UI Honors program. And, last year, he won academic all-Big Ten laurels for the second time in a row.
Now in his senior season, Reiner has been charged with leading a team that tied for eighth in the Big Ten to league glory. That’s something unseen since he helped Iowa win the 2001 Big Ten Tournament championship at the United Center in Chicago.
Reiner is a true student-athlete, and it would be easy for it all to build up. But Reiner still keeps a level head amid the stress and demands.
“It’s tough, especially in basketball, where we travel almost more than any other sport,” he said. “We get home late after a game and then have a 9:30 class. But it takes realizing you have to take care of what’s important and what’s in front of you at the moment.”
“It comes with the territory, being an upperclassman and playing a lot of minutes. You’re going to have pressure and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be here. There’s a lot of pressure on you being a senior.”
Iowa’s Jared Reiner
At the moment, it appears that Reiner may be approaching a breakthrough in his career.
After finishing the exhibition season undefeated, Coach Steve Alford said that his 6-foot-1, 255-pound post player could be “on the brink of something really big”.
“He’s just a weapon we have to continue to exploit and look at,” said the fifth-year coach. “I really like what’s happened with his game. He’s worked hard.”
Reiner said spending time in the gym and practicing his moves over the summer have built his confidence heading into his last season.
“I like the fact that my strengths are increasing a lot,” he said. “Out of the 365 days in the year, you work out 330 and the other days you get to perform. That’s the trade-off. You work hard to get the rewards of playing in the game.
“I have more confidence on the floor and leading my teammates. I’m confident that if we need a basket, then they can throw it to me and I can make the shot.”
And the leadership role that Reiner has had to assume has come naturally to him.
“It comes with the territory, being an upperclassman and playing a lot of minutes,” he said. “You’re going to have pressure and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be here. There’s a lot of pressure on you being a senior.”
Aside from amazing focus and prioritization skills, taught to him by his high school guidance counselor and mother, Joanne, Reiner has a lot of motivation.
Wearing rubber Nike wristbands with the word “respect” engraved on the top side, Reiner also has letters on his shoes that keeps him centered.
On his left shoe are the letters, BGRD, for his deceased friend Brian, his grandfather, his uncle Russ and another deceased friend Derek. On the right, simply, “Dad” – a reminder of the father he lost at age six.
“When I see those letters, it makes me think about what I’m playing for,” Reiner said. “You’re always motivated by things that have happened in your past. I just think about how fortunate I am to be playing at Iowa.”
That motivation is currently leading Reiner to make a big push to achieve his childhood NBA dreams.
“Any kid who picks up a basketball is lying to you if they say they don’t have aspirations to play professional basketball,” he said. “But I’m not going to worry about that. That would be selfish of me. If we go out and win ball games and play well, then we’ll let the cards fall where they may.”
Ever the focused team player, Reiner is most concerned about the new season. Considering his class of seniors is the most experienced that Coach Alford has had to work with in his tenure, Reiner understands that the public’s microscope is focused keenly on their success.
“I definitely think we’re one of the best teams in the Big Ten,” he said. “We have a strong front line returning, and we have Pierre Pierce returning to the lineup. He’s a scoring threat and he’s good on defense too.
“I think we have a good shot at a Big Ten title and going far in the NCAA tournament,” Reiner added. “It all comes down to taking care of the task at hand. What do you have to do today to achieve your goals?”
Whether or not the proverbial chips fall in the right way for Reiner at the end of the year, with his combination of intelligence and experience, it is quite clear he could always be a motivational speaker.