Former Navy all-America David Robinson, the college basketball player of the year for 1986-87 and the No. 1 pick in the recent NBA draft, is writing an occasional diary for The Washington Post of his experiences at the Pan American Games. Ensign Robinson is a member of the United States basketball team.

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 15 -- One of the toughest things about international basketball competition is adjusting to the way the game is officiated. People talk a lot about the obvious differences between college and international basketball (for instance, the wider lane), but the biggest difference I find is the officiating.

In NCAA games, officials seem influenced by certain things, like a vocal coach, a certain player or a wild home crowd. But the international refs don't seem influenced by outside factors.

The games are called completely differently. So much contact is allowed underneath the basket, so much more than your basic college basketball game. I remember a game last year in Paris, against the French team. Not only did we get beat -- by 13 -- but we got beat up in the process. Rony Seikaly {of Syracuse} came into the locker room with a bloody lip and somebody else had a busted nose.

The thing you have to learn, especially if you're an inside player, is that you'll have to mix it up inside. The officials consistently allow that, so you have to make the personal adjustment. When you're playing against Western nations, as we are here at the Pan Ams, you don't have quite the physical contests you do if you're playing the Eastern bloc countries.

The Eastern bloc teams, like the Yugoslavians and the Soviets, are just big teams who use the physical style of play -- elbows and hips -- as part of their game plan. Intimidation is part of their philosophy of play.

Against the Western nations, however, if you get an elbow or something, it's more of a message. If it happens in a game with, say, Mexico or Argentina, it probably means the opposing player is mad at you.

Another one of the big adjustments comes for big men, the guys who play a traditional low-post position. At Navy, for example, I went to my spot and I expected the ball to be thrown inside.

But in all-star situations, such as these, I have to be more active and go out and get the ball. Everybody, because they're all so good, has more confidence in his jump shot. So the big men are always the focal point. The guards are more active. A center really has to be super-dominant to come out and take over.

Coach Denny Crum designed the offense so that I am able to get the ball inside more often, though. Last summer, during the world championships in Europe, Lute Olson was the coach and he wasn't used to having a real center, because he hasn't had one at Iowa or Arizona. As a result I was playing out at the top of the key or on the wings in what amounted to a three-forward offense.

In fact, since we're going through a period where there aren't a lot of true centers in U.S. college basketball, most of my teammates here at the Pan Ams have an adjustment to make with me in the lineup.

I don't think, however, that my sluggishness the first couple of games was just due to that kind of factors. My concentration is becoming a little bit better as we play more. The first game I had 11 points and 11 rebounds; the second game, 10 points and seven rebounds; the third, 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Those first couple of games I feel I took a couple of steps backward, and that means you need to go out and sort of reestablish the respect of your teammates. I'm really looking forward to the next round, which begins when we play on Sunday.