March 30, 2006

10 Questions With Men's Lacrosse's Joe Boulukos

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1. How was your Spring Break?

It was good.

Did you get a lot of sun?

No, it was kind of overcast here. But it was a good time.

Yeah, Ithaca’s a wonderful place to spend Spring Break. Do you resent all the people who spent last week on a beach?

I don’t think I resent it, but I would definitely like to have had a few Spring Breaks. Maybe I can have one after college. It’s good being with the team, we had fun. But some of my other friends were in Jamaica, and they came back all tanned, so it’s a little different.

Don’t you just want to punch all those guys in the face?

Oh, yeah. Definitely.

If you had a Spring Break, where do you think you’d go?

From what other people have said, I guess Acapulco, or South Beach maybe.

You really don’t have any idea though, because you haven’t been to these places.

Exactly. I’ve never been there.

Have you ever left the State of New York for anything other than lacrosse?

Only a couple of times.

2. What does your NCAA bracket look like?

Well, I didn’t have George Mason in it, I’ll tell you that much.

Let’s be clear: this was purely for “recreational” purposes, correct?

Right. Completely. I filled out my bracket alone in my room and didn’t let anyone see it. Didn’t share it with anyone.

You don’t even know what a “pool” is, do you?

Nope, not at all.

Glad we cleared that up. Who was in your Final Four?

UConn, UCLA –

You had UCLA?

Yeah. And … who was in Duke’s bracket? Boston College.

No, they were in Villanova’s region. That game was a bloodbath.

Oh, right. I had BC over Villanova. Who was it in Duke’s bracket?

I can’t even remember. I had them losing. I think that was the only correct pick I made.

Was it Texas?

That’s it.

Okay, I had UConn, UCLA, Boston College, and Texas. It didn’t really pan out for me.

Yeah, not so much. I had Gonzaga, Texas, Ohio State, and UConn. But everyone’s bracket exploded, so we shouldn’t feel bad. At least we aren’t like those horrible delinquents who had money riding on this.

[Laughing] Exactly.

Because gambling is wrong. Where does a team like George Mason come from?

I don’t know, they have a great defense I guess. I was kind of pissed because my hometown team is Hofstra, and they beat them this year.

Twice!

Yeah, and they got snubbed from the tournament. And George Mason’s best player was suspended for the first game because he punched one of the Hofstra players in the balls! Do you remember that?

It was all over SportsCenter. I’m still sore.

I couldn’t believe it. But they found a way to make it to the Final Four somehow.

Who’s going to win? I’m going with UCLA.

I’ll go with them, too.

I love a kiss-ass.

I think they have a good defense and a good offense. They’re the most well-rounded team left.

3. Yesterday, I wrote a column defending Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison for crying after losing to UCLA.

Yeah, I saw that. It looked good. I read the first paragraph.

Ah, so you’re the one. Thanks a bunch.

No problem.

How much of a role does emotion play for you on the lacrosse field?

It’s a lot. It’s hard to play a competitive sport if you’re not completely into it, pumped up, and ready to go. Emotion is a big part of how I perform.

Yeah, I’m not saying that you should be breaking down in tears whenever you miss the net or anything, but I don’t think you can discount emotion.

Exactly. Emotion is big part of any athlete’s success. I don’t blame Morrison for crying. I mean, when you spend four years doing something that you’ve worked so hard for, you know, that’s the reason that he’s crying. His career is over, all that time and all that work. I can understand it.

Does this mean you’ll be crying your eyes out after the team wins a national championship this spring?

Yeah, I hope so.

4. We’ve just witnessed a March Madness where all the No. 1 seeds lost. The latest coach’s poll has Cornell lacrosse ranked second in the nation. This doesn’t mean jack squat, does it?

No. Definitely not. Especially since one of our biggest wins was against a team that might not even be playing the rest of the season.

We’ll get to Duke a little later.

I think that especially in lacrosse there’s a lot of parity at the top. Out of those 15 or 20 teams, on any given day if you don’t play well, they’ll beat you. Even if you’re ranked No. 1. So, the ranking doesn’t mean a lot to us right now.

And there’s still a lot of season left. But you’re off to an undefeated start. That has to give you some confidence going forward.

Yeah, this is the best start to a season we’ve had in a while. Since I’ve been here, we’ve started out only a little better than .500 in the first part of the season. Now, we’re undefeated, so it’s been great. We’re definitely confident, but [head] coach [Jeff] Tambroni has been doing a good job keeping our heads small and making sure we get back to work every Monday.

Because you don’t want to lose to a George Mason.

No, we don’t. That’s for sure.

5. What does scoring feel like?

Hmm, what does scoring feel like …

That’s the question.

It’s like a big build-up, you’re trying as hard as you possibly can, and then it happens.

It’s a release?

Yeah, it’s a big release.

After a 5-point day against Yale last week, you now have over 100 points for your career. What’s more important to you, a goal or an assist?

I’d say they’re the same for me. I think they’re both just as important. Some people will tell you “oh, an assist is more important, because without the assist you wouldn’t have the goal.”

Right, and “an assist makes you a team player.” Blah, blah, blah.

I’m all about teamwork, but without the guy shooting the ball, it wouldn’t go in the net. So, I think they’re both equally important.

6. Clear this up for the uninitiated: why do the defensemen have longer sticks than the attackers? Are they tougher than you guys?

Yeah, I think it’s the toughness factor. They’re big mean guys.

Are they compensating for something? Maybe a lack of skill?

You could definitely say that. We always make fun of them and say that the offensive players are the skill guys on the team.

The defenders are just meatheads, huh?

Exactly.

7. Before Spring Break, I interviewed Maggie Fava from the women’s lacrosse team. She’s glad that the women don’t play with the men’s rules, which allow for more contact. Is there too much physicality in the men’s game?

No, the contact is an important part of the game. It great. It makes lacrosse a mixture of basketball, football, and a lot of different sports. I think that’s part of what makes the game so exciting – big hits and stuff like that.

Does it detract from the skill level?

No, not at all.

9. Let’s talk about the Duke situation. Soon after you defeated them last Wednesday, allegations arose that three members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team raped an exotic dancer at an off-campus party. The University suspended the entire team from competition, pending an investigation. DNA samples have been taken from the 46 white players, since the victim claims her attackers were Caucasian. What is your reaction to all of this?

It’s a big shock. They had an unbelievable year last year.

Yeah, they lost to Hopkins in the championship game.

I know a couple of the guys, and I never would have expected anything like this to happen.

Have you heard from them at all?

I’m not that close to them, really. And they’re all keeping everything silent.

That’s the thing. No one on the team is talking to anyone. If the allegations are true and three of the Duke players assaulted that woman, wouldn’t the other 44 guys on the team know? And this is an absolutely heinous crime – where do you draw the line between being a teammate by not stepping forward, and being a good human by breaking the silence?

That’s been the topic of conversation with us. We’re a really close team, but you’re right, it’s a heinous crime. It’s sexual assault, and there might even be some racism involved. It’s terrible. I don’t know if it was a team decision or something the lawyers have said, but you’d think that someone would step forward. That would be the right thing to do.

If you were in that position, if you knew something, would you be able to come forward?

I hope to never be in that situation. But if I was, I’d like to think I would. But also, just thinking about it, how could the whole team be witnessing this and not do something about it as it was going on? With our team, I don’t think that would ever happen. We wouldn’t let each other do something like that. And I don’t know all the facts, but I can’t believe no one stepped in to stop it.

Has your coach addressed the team about this yet?

Yes, he has a lot. He’s basically told us that this is why teammates are important. This kind of thing should never happen. Someone should have stepped in.

9. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and guess that you’re Greek.

Yep, you got it. Good call!

It’s all those “k’s” and vowels in your last name. One of my best friends is Greek, and he’s a pretty good cook. But his father is fantastic. We’ll all visit him, and his Dad will whip up a seven-course meal in about 30 seconds. We pass out after lunch and don’t wake up for three days. Do you have any skills in the kitchen?

Yeah, I enjoy cooking. I definitely watch The Food Channel, too.

Is Rachael Ray attractive? I can never tell.

Yeah, I think so. There’s something about Greek food, though. We’ll visit my grandma, and there’s no way you can eat the amount of food she makes. And even when you’re stuffed, she’ll still going to put more food on your plate.

And it’s disrespectful if you don’t go into a coma trying to finish.

Exactly.

When you were a kid, did you have a weight problem because of this?

I wouldn’t say that I had a weight “problem,” but I was definitely chubby as a kid, yeah.

Ah, so it wasn’t a chronic condition?

It wasn’t a chronic condition, but I was definitely chubby, that’s for sure.

Well, I’m relieved that you’ve grown out of all that. Good for you.

Thanks.

When you meet a nice girl and decide to settle down, is the wedding going to be big, fat, and Greek?

I don’t know. My brother got married, and it was small. He’s older than me. He did it a little differently, though – he got married in Jamaica.

He bucked the stereotype.

His close friends came and some family, but that’s about it. But if I get married close to home, my Mom’s not Greek but my Dad is, and his side of the family is HUGE. So, I’m sure it’ll be pretty big.

You’ve booked your tickets for Jamaica already, haven’t you?

I’ve definitely thought about it.

Might be a good move.

10. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell?

I’m prepared for this one.

Great. I’m expecting a good answer.

Well, a bunch of the guys on the team said I shouldn’t pick women’s lacrosse, because they didn’t give us a shout-out last week.

Yeah, Maggie went with squash. Do you realize that the men’s squash team has more votes than you? You guys have been completely shut out so far.

I know.

Hell, even men’s crew got a vote. I live with those guys, and they’re ugly as sin.

We’re kind of hurt by it. But that’s alright. I think I’m going to have to go with women’s track.

They’ve been the popular answer. But what is it about women’s track, exactly? People say it’s because they run around in their underwear, and I’m sure that helps. But do you know any of them on a personal level? Are there intangible redeeming qualities that we should know about?

I do actually know a couple, because a few of the guys on the team are dating them.

Ah. But you’re not, right? You’re non-biased?

Yeah, I’m a bachelor.

Should we print your phone number?

Hey, if it will help, maybe.

I’m here for you.

But yeah, they’re great girls. Really nice.

So, there’s personality behind the spandex?

I think so. And if you run that much, you have to have a really nice body. Let’s be honest.

But isn’t picking women’s track taking the easy way out? The swimmers wear even less clothes, for example.v

Yeah, you’re right! Maybe I should rethink this.

Hey, if your inclination is to pick track, then go ahead. I’m just making sure you’ve really thought about this.

There are just so many good-looking girls in Cornell athletics that it’s hard to pick.

Do you think that on the whole the athletes are hotter than the general female population?

Wow. I don’t know. They’re both great groups.

Oh, come on.

You going to hurt my chances here.

Please. You’re telling me that you can’t walk into a bar and say, “hi, I’m captain of the lacrosse team” and have dozens of women throw themselves at you?

No, no. It doesn’t work like that. I wish.

Ten Questions With Per Ostman will appear every Thursday, or until he’s arrested for running an illegal March Madness gambling ring out of the basement of the Sun office. Comments can be sent to tenquestions@mac.com.

Archived article by Per Ostman
Sun Senior Writer