LINCOLN, Neb. - After sitting out the entire 2011-12 season with a knee injury, Nebraska senior center Andre Almeida is participating in fall practice and should be ready to for the start of the season Nov. 7.
The 6-foot-11, 314-pound was the primary backup post player for Nebraska two seasons ago, averaging 5.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in just 15 minutes per contest.
“I think he looks as good as he has in my time here,” said new Nebraska head coach Tim Miles. “He's a large guy, so his DNA is not going to allow you to see a different guy out there. But I think he's handling all of our stuff really well.”
The Brazilian native suffered a knee injury in the 2011 Big 12 tournament and was expected to be back by the start of last season – things took longer to heal. Almeida didn't hit the practice court until February, at which point the decision had been already made to redshirt the big-man.
“I feel good. I had pretty much the whole year off last year,” said Almeida. “I have been working out hard since the summer with lots of conditioning.
“I don't think I'm back to 100 percent, but practicing in live situations is the best way to get it back to where it needs to be. As good as the individual workouts were with the coaches, there is nothing like the game speed. I think by the time the games start, I'm going to be a lot more comfortable. I came in a little rusty as far as my back to the basket.”
During the practice Big Red Report was able to observe, Almeida was Nebraska's number one option at center. The senior should get as many minutes as his knees can handle in the physical Big Ten conference.
“I'm trying to manage him a little bit. When the guys have to run a wind-sprint, I will put him on the elliptical. I'm trying to get him off his knees a little bit,” said Miles. “There is a little bit of managing him, but I think his conditioning is good. I think he's playing alright.”
Almeida understands the concern, but still wishes he could fully participate in all conditioning.
“Coach Miles knows I have a bad knee, so sometimes here and there, he has me do something, but doesn't have me pounding on my knee,” said Almeida. “It's just sometimes, I like to do the conditioning with the guys, but it's about being smart about it.”
Despite a surgically repaired knee, the 6-foot-11 center isn't even wearing a knee brace.
“I asked my trainer, but he said that if I feel good without them, to go without it. So I just put a little icy hot on before practice,” said Almeida.
Big Ten basketball media days start Thursday in Chicago, IL.