Aisia Robertson wore a hefty knee brace and a wide grin as she walked off the Davalos Center basketball courts Monday.
Media members were lined up to talk with the UNM women’s basketball team’s senior point guard, who is returning from ACL surgery and saw her first game action at last week’s Cancun Challenge. Robertson didn’t mind the attention one bit.
“It felt great being able to get out there and do what I love,” she said. “It’s been a long wait.”
The span between’s Robertson’s injury and her return is probably a matter of perspective. The Lobos’ All-Mountain West standout went down after landing awkwardly in the March 7 regular-season finale against Wyoming and underwent surgery in April.
Having Robertson back on the floor less than eight months later rates as a pleasant surprise to UNM coach Mike Bradbury.
“I really thought it might be January or February before we got her back,” Bradbury said. “We’ll still have to pick our spots with her as she progresses but it’s great that she’s able to go.”
Robertson played 16 minutes in UNM’s win over Missouri on Thanksgiving and logged 12 minutes in a loss to West Virginia the following day. But Robertson was on the floor at crunch time against Missouri and hit a critical late 3-pointer to help the Lobos take a 71-68 win.
“She makes a tremendous difference,” sophomore Shai McGruder said. “A.R. knows the offense, knows what passes to make and just brings that fire with her. She’s coming back with a vengeance and I love it.”
The timing of Robertson’s return is nearly ideal for the Lobos, who open Mountain West play Wednesday at Boise State. It’s ironic considering her injury could hardly have happened at a worse time for UNM, which lost its MWC tournament and WNIT openers without Robertson in the lineup.
“I kind of have a chip on my shoulder after not being able to finish last season,” she said. “I’m probably 80 to 85% physically but I just need more reps now. I’m ready to go.”
Robertson is not expected to start immediately and Bradbury plans to manage her minutes in upcoming games. Her return will impact UNM’s rotation, however, and will likely mean less time at the point and more at 2-guard for sophomore Jayla Everett.
“It won’t really change what we do,” Bradbury said, “but it gives us more options and another really good perimeter player. It’s good news, no question about that.”
The news was less definitive about senior forward Jordan Hosey, who did not play in either game in Cancun. Hosey practiced Monday but her availability for Wednesday’s game at Boise State remains uncertain, Bradbury said.
“I honestly don’t know,” Bradbury said. “I was told she could practice (Monday) and she practiced. I can’t comment on her situation right now. When I can, I will.”
McGruder started in Hosey’s place in Cancun and performed well, earning all-tournament honors. McGruder posted career highs with 16 points and eight steals against West Virginia.