Western's Robinson thrives on rejections
March 2, 2005
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University women's basketball forward Krystal Robinson has turned this season into her personal block party. Finally healthy after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee 15 games into last season, the sophomore from Kent is happy to show off her timing and jumping ability.
"Not everybody can block shots, so that's an edge I have on a lot of people," said the 6-foot-1 Robinson, who attended Kentridge High School. "When I block a shot, everyone just goes crazy. It gets me and my team excited."
Robinson's shot blocking has helped the Vikings to 22-4 overall, 14-3 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and are ranked No.13 in the latest USA Today/ESPN/Women's Basketball Coaches Association /NCAA Division II Coaches Poll.
She has rejected a team-high 63 (2.4 per game) shots this season, the second most in the GNAC, and is working on a streak of 21 games with at least one block.
"Her presence on defense is huge," Western coach Carmen Dolfo said. "She really has an innate ability to be able to understand where to be on defense, where to help, and she gets a lot of her blocks not only on the person she is defending, but helping on other people as well. As a coach you try to teach that, but Krystal just seems to be really natural in that way."
Although she enjoys blocking shots, Robinson is happy just to be on the court after her freshman season was cut short by the knee injury. For the first time in her career, Robinson had to watch from the sideline.
"I've never had any major injuries so I just wasn't expecting it," said Robinson. "It seemed like I was just getting into a groove, and I felt that in a way, I kind of let my team down. But it was something I couldn't really help."
Robinson said the rehab process was long and difficult, sometimes making it hard to keep a positive attitude. She said the support of her teammates helped ease the pain.
"They were behind me 100 percent, and they were always there for me," Robinson said. "Tearing my ACL gave me a renewed passion for the game. It just made me appreciate how much you really have. I hated watching, so heading into this season I was really pumped and I was just so excited to come back."
Tendonitis in her knee last summer slowed Robinson's comeback even more. Dolfo said Robinson was not able to go all out until the day before the first game this season.
Despite appearing in every game, Robinson began the season playing tentatively and didn't see significant playing time until December.
"I didn't really know what my expectations were of Krystal, just because we didn't know how she was going to come off of the injury," Dolfo said. "We've always known Krystal was good and she could help us a lot, but it was really touch-and-go for a little while."
"The first game against Montana State-Billings, I was too scared to go in on offensive rebounds because I blew out my knee on a rebound," said Robinson. "I was just too scared to do certain things because I was worried about my knee in the back of my mind."
Slowly but surely, Robinson returned to full strength and regained her confidence. She debuted in the starting lineup against Northwest Nazarene on January 20, and has started every game since.
Robinson has thrived offensively as well. She leads the team in field goal percentage and is averaging 6.7 points per game, but it's her shot-blocking ability that can alter a game.
"Defense wins games and blocking shots is intimidating for people I play against," Robinson said. "I've always blocked shots, junior high, high school, it's all about timing and it's definitely an advantage."
"Just having Krystal in the game definitely takes confidence away from players that are shooting," said Dolfo, "and that gets everyone else going."
This season, Robinson has blocked more than five shots four times, twice reaching a career-high of seven. The school record for blocked shots in a game is nine, a number Robinson has her eyes on.
"I blocked 10 shots a couple of times in high school so I'm close," she said.
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