In this edition of Get Hype!, Bwog’s #1 baller boi Max Rettig sat down with men’s basketball center Cory Osetkowski (CC ’15) to discuss hoop dreamz, personal goals, and the Roar Zone.
Bwog: How has the team been doing so far this season? What improvements need to be made down the stretch to contend with Harvard and Yale?
Cory: You know, we’re coming back into our early-season form I think. Early in the season our defense was our strength, holding other teams to something like 40 points per game. So I’d say our big key down the stretch is defending and fighting for all 40 minutes. I do think that we have a chance to do something special.
B: Think back to last year. How has the team dynamic changed this year, given that a bunch of key players are not on the court? Who’s stepped up in their absence?
C: A lot of players have really stepped up with respect to leading the team and have done a great job of that. Kyle Castlin has made a huge impact on the court, Maodo Lo has really become a strong leader, and Isaac Cohen is just a really smart guy to have on the court. He knows what all the plays are and what is happening on the court.
B: You’re a tall guy at 6’11”. Aside from the obvious physical advantages, are there any mental or intangible advantages your height gives you on the court?
C: I definitely see my height as a mental strength as well. If a guard is coming down the lane and sees me standing there, I’m an imposing force to have to deal with. I’m also sort of a rare height—I used to, of course, not be this tall, and I’d have to make my own adjustments. But it definitely helps on the court.
B: You’ve just finished a 5-game slate at home, and now you’re going on the road for 6 out of your last 8. How is that going to affect the team, and how do you look to improve your 2-4 away record?
C: Playing at home is a huge advantage in that we have our own classmates and fans here cheering us on. That isn’t the case for road games, where the situation is more hostile. So I’d say we plan to just stay dialed in and focused on the court and playing to win.
B: How do you plan to improve upon your own stat line? Are you looking for more minutes?
C: I try to do whatever Coach Smith needs me to do, which is be selfless and play for the team and play to win every game. But yeah, I’d definitely like to increase my shooting percentage a bit and maybe take some more 3’s.
B: Is there any one opponent you are looking forward to playing down the stretch? Any team you wish you were done with?
C: You know, I don’t think there’s any team we wouldn’t want to play again. At the end of the day, we get a win or a loss, so that’s the mentality we go into games with, to win against whoever we’re playing that night.
B: Do you get treated differently as an athlete? Any looks or remarks?
C: I wouldn’t say I get treated differently by anyone, but people do know I play basketball and will say “Good job” or “Go get ’em” or something like that. And I’ll get those people who look at me and say “You’re really tall. You must play basketball.”
B: You’re a senior, so you’ve been here for a while. How have things changed over the past 4 years? What’s your perspective on the team, and on Columbia in general?
C: I think the team has gotten much closer. A few years ago it was sort of clique-y, groups of guys would form and that would be it. Our team chemistry and leadership has definitely improved and unified the team. In the past two years especially, I feel like we’re playing more because we love the sport than because we have to play, and our fans have responded with a positive attitude I think starting last year, when we made the playoffs for the first time in 40 years.
B: Is there any particular song the band plays that you love, or one you really want them to play? What are your thoughts on the Roar Zone?
C: The Roar Zone is a great addition. They help us out a lot with their cheering and heckling of other teams. I don’t really pay attention to the band though; I try to really tune in to the court and block out any external stuff or sounds the band might be making.
B: Anything you want to say to the community?
C: Just to stay with us through our ups and downs. We love playing for you guys.