Injury rehab is never easy—it requires extreme patience, focus and diligence. When you’re used to playing professional sports and operating at peak physical performance, it’s difficult to slow down and focus on getting healthy. But to be successful in pro sports, it’s an absolute necessity.
This is the challenge that Danielle Robinson has faced this offseason. Her rehab from season-ending ankle surgery is not just important for her personally, it’s also very important for the Lynx, who expect Robinson to take on a starter’s role next season.
“You can’t rush something like this because one day on your foot, you landing on it or stepping down on it can mess up the whole thing,” said Robinson. “You don’t want to have to go through surgery again or whatever steps necessary to make it right again, so patience. It is long. It’s a long three months and your leg definitely transforms into being very, very small, but patience is what I had to worry about.”
However, the difficult task of working her way back from a fairly serious injury has been made easier by the continuous presence of Robinson’s Lynx teammate Seimone Augustus. Augustus has been with Robinson every step of the way, working out with her and helping keep her spirits up over the course of a long few months.
“I’m happy I was able to get back up here. Obviously, D-Rob was waiting for someone to come and give her some company, just to kind of help her push through,” said Augustus. “I know it’s a tough process, I’ve been through many injuries and just to have to go through the mental fatigue… Every day you’re hoping to get better and some days are better than others, but just to be here and help her get through some of the struggles of coming back from injury, giving her some confidence, some joy.”
Outside of the benefit to Robinson, Augustus spending so much time with her point guard could be a boon for the Lynx. Last season was a shortened one without much opportunity for practice. Additionally, Robinson spent much of her time playing with the second unit as Lindsay Whalen still held the starting role. As a result, Augustus and Robinson didn’t get a chance to get to know each other on the floor as well as they might have liked. Now that has changed.
“I’ve gotten to know Mone so much more in these few weeks that we’ve had together. Like I said, it’s been a lot of fun, she’s a character,” said Robinson. “We’re always laughing and cracking jokes. It’s going to make my job a lot easier in the season because were already going to have that deeper bond.”
Augustus might have something to gain from it too—a bigger role in the Lynx offense.
“This is my point guard for next year and I’m trying to get 40-percent of the plays ran my way,” she joked. “You have to make nice with your point guard so she’ll run more plays for me next year.”
All kidding aside though, the winter spent rehabbing in Minneapolis instead of playing overseas has Robinson better-prepared to lead the Lynx in 2019. She’s spent time with Cheryl Reeve going over the playbook, she’s trained and worked on her strength with Lynx head athletic trainer Chuck Barta, and she’s learning more and more about the team.
“Being able to spend time with coach Reeve has been huge as well, it’s not always just film, sometimes it’s just talking through things, but we have watched film and we’ll be like ‘OK what were you thinking on this play?’ or ‘Do you see this?’ and it’s nice to have that because a lot of people don’t,” said Robinson. “I get to get a look at the offensive playbook a little bit more and dive deeper into where people want things, when they want it, and that’s just exciting too because I’m a student of the game always. I love watching basketball, and I don’t think there’s a better teacher right now than coach Reeve.”
With both her mind and her body set to be the sharpest they have been in a long time Robinson is ready for the challenge of taking over for Whalen and forming the Lynx in her own image. Things won’t be the same with Robinson as they were with Whalen, but it’s clear that both Robinson and Reeve believe in Robinson’s abilities. After a full offseason, Robinson will come back stronger, smarter and better-prepared in 2019. Though a lot of attention around the league right is focused on free-agency, the Lynx’s biggest boost could come from Robinson—though it wasn’t under the most ideal circumstances, Robinson has taken advantage of her opportunities this offseason. That will become clear when she takes the court.