Nelson finally gets his chance to play for Beavers

2010-12-11T20:15:00Z 2010-12-11T22:54:45Z Nelson finally gets his chance to play for BeaversBy Kevin Hampton, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
December 11, 2010 8:15 pm  • 

Roberto Nelson's legend has been building for over a year now.

Oregon State basketball fans have waited a long time to see Nelson, a rare big-time recruit for the Beavers, on the court.

Meanwhile, they heard the whispers:

He's the best player on the court during practice.

He hits every shot.

He can save the program.

The fans have taken hold of the idea of Nelson's greatness and their grip tightened as the Beavers have gone through growing pains as a team.

Sunday we see the real Roberto Nelson when the Beavers host Texas Pan-American at 1:30 p.m. in Gill Coliseum.

He will get on the court for the first time for OSU after sitting out more than a year because he was half a credit short on his high school transcript.

There's a lot of pressure to live up to his image.

Nelson said he's trying to avoid putting too much thought into his first game appearance.

"I'm just trying to take it as another game," Nelson said. "I'm trying not to stress myself out, not put too much pressure on myself, so when I go out there I don't have this big load on my shoulders where I can't go out there and do my best for the team."

Nelson is aware of the high hopes of the fans, but knows that success can take a while.

He doesn't want to start his career by playing poorly because of the pressure.

"I'm not really worried about (what the fans expect)," he said. "I'm glad the fans are out there waiting for me to play, that's a blessing right there, but I'm just trying to get all the pressure off so when I go out there I'll be performing my best."

Coach Craig Robinson has tried to prepare Nelson so he stays stress-free.

Robinson has made a point of joking around with Nelson and told him he'll be so excited his first shot is probably going to be an air ball.

Just as long as his other shots start going down. That means going out and establishing the fundamentals on the court first and then letting the game come to him.

"What I've been telling him is don't try and win the Pac-10 in your first few games," Robinson said. "Just come to it as if you're just really starting."

Nelson is more concerned about fitting into the rotation after missing the first month of the season than starting with a bang.

He said it will probably be a slow transition for the next couple games.

"I'm not really trying to jump into things," Nelson said. "I'm going to take it slow, take one play at a time and hopefully I'll be able to jell with the team as quick as possible before Pac-10."

Although Nelson hasn't been able to play in the games, he's spent the past year practicing and learning the system.

That should give him a leg up with the late start. He said sitting out last season improved his game and made him a better overall player.

"I was more of a scorer and that was my main focus going into college," Nelson said. "(Robinson) taught me that you can't really get to where you want to get if you can't play other positions, if you can't dribble the ball right, if you can't play defense. He's taught me everything."

So what can fans expect out of Nelson?

Well, there are reasons why he was ranked as one of the top shooting guards in the country coming out of Santa Barbara High and the subject of a feature in Sports Illustrated.

Forward Joe Burton has seen Nelson in game action. The two were teammates on a travel team throughout their high school years.

"His game is really unique," Burton said. "He can shoot anywhere on the court, make a play. He can turn nothing into something."

Robinson said once Nelson gets up to speed he's going to boost the backcourt depth and help with scoring and defense.

"He has a great knowledge of the game so he's going to help us from a basketball intellect point of view," Robinson said. "There's not going to be any aspect of the game he won't help us in."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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