Nasir Robinson has had to start each of the last two seasons coming off a knee surgery. On the first day of practice in October, Robinson aggravated his right knee—the same knee he had surgery on the year before that forced him to miss the first three games of last season.
Robinson was expected to be out for a month this time around. He returned in time for the season-opener on November 11 against Albany, and is off to the best start of his career. He's averaging 13.9 points a game—more than twice his career total (6.5 points a game). He's hit double-figures in six of nine games.
Robinson has played and started in all nine games, but he's had to follow a pretty meticulous training routine with team trainer Tony Salesi. A week like this one—where Pitt has four days between games—benefits him a little. Though the injury hasn't forced him out of action, head coach Jamie Dixon held Robinson from practice on Thursday. The hope was to take advantage of the lull between games, and give Robinson some extra rest as a preventative measure.
"He's had some fluid in the knee," Dixon said. "It's not so much pain, as it is stiffness."
Pitt will see its schedule slow down a little bit. In addition to the four days since the VMI game of this week, the Panthers won't play again until they tip off with South Carolina State next Saturday. With today's game against Oklahoma State, it's the first time since the six days between the Long Beach State game (November 16) and the LaSalle game (November 22) that Robinson has had the advantage of getting a few extra days off.
This latest stretch, the Panthers had five games in a span of 11 days. On the surface, it doesn't look like the number of games in that time span affected Robinson's game. In the five games, he averaged 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. For the season, Robinson has played less than 30 minutes in just four contests. He's only played less than 27 minutes in one contest, which happened to be the opener against Albany.
"This year, we haven't had as many days off as we did last year," Robinson said. "I've just been doing my extra rehab and ice."
Robinson admits that he hasn't had the knee bothering him too much, but he feels he can never have enough advice or guidance from Salesi.
"I've just been warming it up before practice to get the muscles going," Robinson said. "Basically, it's just getting a good warmup. Once the muscles get going, I feel good."
For the season, Robinson is averaging 13.9 points a game and 6.2 rebounds a game—both career-highs. Another career-high is from the free throw line. Entering the season, he was converting less than 50 percent of his free throws (90-186, 48.4%). He's 15-23 (65.2%) for the line so far this year, and was perfect in his first three games. He's only converted less than 50 percent of his free throws in one game this season (Robert Morris, 1-4).