CEDAR FALLS | Robert Knar's fictional world overlapped into his reality.

That might have been helpful over the last two years.

Knar is in the final stages of a novel touching on life's journey and learning something about yourself and those around you. The redshirt freshman for the University of Northern Iowa men's basketball team has kept that in perspective while spending the last two years recovering from two separate tears of the ACL in his left knee.

"I feel very confident that things do happen for a reason," said Knar. "After looking back on this year, and even those six months with the first ACL, I've learned so much and learned who is important in your life and who is there to help you through it.

"You also find out it's not that major of a catastrophe compared to a lot of other things that are going on out there today. It's a minor thing that's helped me realize a lot."

The first injury came while playing in an AAU national tournament the summer before his senior year of high school. He still finished as Mundelein (Ill.) High School's all-time leading scorer and career leader in 3-pointers despite missing the first 20 games of his senior season.

Everything was up and running and back to normal as Knar made it through the summer getting ready for his freshman season as a Panther. A pick-up game about three weeks before the start of practice changed all of that.

"First game, first play. Slowing down, my knee wobbled a little bit and I felt it move," Knar said. "It couldn't have been a more awkward moment -- just getting into it and having that on the first play of the game."

But, just like the first one, it wasn't the end of the world. Rather, another setback in an otherwise fortunate basketball career.

"He's handled it as well as a young guy possibly could," said UNI head coach Ben Jacobson. "In some way, he's fortunate he has the type of mentality and competitive spirit that allowed him to handle being set back twice in a short time frame. I'm impressed with the fact he hasn't felt sorry for himself and approached it head on."

This time around, the rehabilitation wasn't as aggressive. Athletic trainer Don Bishop took his time to make sure Knar had a strong leg to stand, run, cut and jump on. It also helped that he wasn't expected to be the star of a postseason run as he was the year prior.

Did the accelerated therapy lead to the second injury? It's a fine question, but nobody will be able to answer it for certain.

"I really feel like the first one was a good process. If I look back on it now, maybe taking two more months on it, I think that would've been good for it. Time is always good," said Knar. "But I don't think it really had an effect on it."

Meanwhile, Knar took some time for other things in life. He chose a major at UNI -- Electrical Engineering Technology -- and learned about the game of basketball by watching, rather than playing. The chances are as high as they've ever been that he'll be in a Panther uniform this winter

"I'm hoping to retain a spot as a point guard. That's the coaches' decision, but hopefully I can help push the tempo like we were really trying to do last year," he said. "I look forward being able to partake in that, competing with others and pushing others to be the best they can. In turn, they push me to be the best that I can."

Sports reporter for The Courier

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