While preparing for Friday's home opener against Army, women's basketball senior forward and co-captain Brittani Rettig took some charges from Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman.
1. The team had a tough Thanksgiving break, losing three straight games. How will you get back on track?
I think we've already taken those steps. We had a good practice yesterday.
So, is it just that the team needs more practice at this early point in the season?
Yeah. More practice, and lots of film. Luckily, the mistakes we've been making are small ones. Our intensity is there. We've played some really tough teams, but I think that we stepped up. We weren't intimidated or anything like that.
With such a young team, it's certainly important to at least have the intensity.
Right. We are young, but we have a lot of experience. A lot of the sophomores saw a lot of minutes last year as freshmen, so we really don't use that as an excuse. We don't really like to consider ourselves as a young team anymore. We just need to learn from our little mistakes.
2. Since you didn't get to spend last week with your family in Texas, how did you and your teammates celebrate Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving day we were actually here [on campus]. So, we had Thanksgiving at our coach's house.
Is she a good cook?
She's pretty good. It wasn't really her cooking by herself though. It was more of a potluck thing.
Ah, so everyone brought something?
Yeah, we all were able to contribute. This year was a big deal because the coaches deep-fried the turkeys.
You know, people burn down their houses when they do that.
Yeah, it was a problem! They actually had to call 1-800-BUTTERBALL, or whatever that number is.
There's a freaking hotline for this?
Yeah, what's that from? It's from a movie or something.
So, this is real? And it works? They'll walk you through the deep-frying?
Yeah, it worked!
How hard is it to deep-fry a turkey? Throw it in the Fry-O-Later, press "On," and pray your house doesn't burn down.
Yeah. We fried two turkeys, and another girl on the team who's also from Texas made candied yams.
Is this what they do in Texas? Deep-fry everything?
Yeah, it's better that way! You can deep-fry anything.
I lived in a fraternity house for two years. I believe you. What did you bring to this potluck?
I brought a strawberry cake.
No, but it had a lot of icing and fat on it.
Well, thank God for that.
Oh! My roommate and I also made corn fritters.
These are also deep-fried, I'm assuming?
Oh, yes they are.
I'm noticing a theme here.
3. What's Thanksgiving like in the Rettig household? Is there still a lot of deep-frying?
Yeah, there's deep-frying. It's a lot louder. We play a lot of games in my family, and they get really heated.
Like what? The Feats of Strength? The Airing of Grievances?
We play these old trivia games. I have a lot of aunts and uncles, so one of my aunts will make up all these questions to embarrass someone else, and we'll have to guess who it is. It gets really loud and it gets really embarrassing.
Here, it's a little more reserved, I think. When the team gets together, we eat, we chill, and we watch TV. It's a lot more lively back home.
You don't actively insult and embarrass your teammates?
Yeah, I try to encourage them and be nice to them. I'm kind of like the mother figure of the team.
To be a real family, you have to be able to insult each other. You should explain this to the freshmen.
Maybe towards the end of the season I'll start bringing out all the cut-downs, but for now I'll be nice.
4. Was there any culture shock from going to college in the northeast after growing up in Texas?
Yeah. Everything is different. Of course there's the traditional stuff, like how everyone says that people are friendlier in Texas. That's true.
What? We're not friendly? You got a problem with people from the northeast? You don't like us?
They just talk really fast, and they're really short with you. They don't want to just have a conversation.
I think you're allowing the Long Island demographic to color your perceptions.
Well, Long Islanders make up most of Cornell, right?
Yeah, there's a giant funnel from Nassau to Ithaca.
And there's all these "organic" foods. I've never seen that stuff before.
Yeah, real food. Don't worry, I'm sure it's just a fad.
I've never had sushi before. I've never had hummus. And kosher foods?
Not a lot of Jews in Texas, huh?
None! I think I met my first Jewish person here at school.
What else is different?
The music. The rap music that I'm used to is all the Dirty South kind of stuff.
Does Texas count as "crunk?" Am I even using that word correctly?
Yeah, we're crunk. In Texas, we consider ourselves part of "The South," even though people up here think of us as part of "The West" or "The Midwest."
Is everything really bigger in Texas?
Yes. Especially the boys.
Stop right there.
Oh no! I mean, just larger people -
We're moving on.
No! I didn't mean that! Just physically! You know, longer, bigger, taller. People, that's all.
Sure you did.
I need to say this, though: Texas is the best state ever. Can you quote me on that? It's the best state, and it could be it's own country if it wanted to.
It sure has enough big strong guys.
5. What's your favorite NBA team?
NBA? Definitely the Mavericks.
Mavs, huh? Not the Spurs? Not the Rockets? Why Dallas?
I grew up going to Mavs games. You know, back when they had the cowboy hat on the "M"?
Oh, yeah. The Jason Kidd years. The Jimmy Jackson years.
Jason Kidd - I have his shirt! And Jimmy Jackson is the hottest player in the NBA.
It seems like everyone says that, for some reason.
No, he really is! Hands down, the hottest player in the NBA.
Why? Is it his eyes?
It's his everything. He actually looks like my high school boyfriend.
Do you like Mark Cuban?
I do. He's fun to watch on the sidelines. I go to a lot of games when I'm at home. I like him. I think he's turned around the whole program.
Even though he's insane?
Yeah, but the crazy people are the successful people. Look at Bobby Knight.
Look at Einstein. You have to be kind of crazy.
Okaaaaay. Does it bother you that the best player on the Mavericks is a tall, goofy, German?
He's not goofy.
Oh. I think he's pretty goofy.
I love Dirk! I love his flowing blonde hair.
You like the Dirk Diggler, huh?
Yeah, Dirk Diggler. I dig Dirk.
6. A few weeks ago, some hack wrote a barely readable column in the Sun about Sheryl Swoopes coming out of the closet. Does the realization that she's a lesbian change your perception of her?
It's kind of a tough question to ask. I was actually wondering if you were gonna go there.
Of course I'm going there. Haven't you ever read this before?
I grew up watching Sheryl Swoopes and I met her as a little girl. My respect for her as a player doesn't change. But, because of my personal values, I don't agree with that way of life. But I can't judge anyone. I had some friends that I played with since the fourth grade who came out during senior year of high school. That was kind of a shock for me. But now, since I've worked through that whole thing with some of my best friends, when I heard about Sheryl Swoopes I wasn't as shocked as I would have been a few years ago. It's kind of prevalent now.
Yeah, and that's the thing, isn't it? A lot of exceptionally small-minded people assume that all women's basketball players are gay.
Yeah, I get that all the time. "Oh, you play basketball? Are you gay?"
Right. And it's any women's sport. People aren't really surprised when a women's athlete comes out, because they assumed as much already. It's ridiculous, because it removes the meaning from Swoopes' decision.
I hate that that assumption is there, because for most of us it's not true. It's kind of become this socially acceptable thing to do within women's sports ... I don't know, I have strong feelings about this kind of thing, and I don't want to offend anyone. It's a touchy subject.
7. The Editor in Chief tells me I'm supposed to ask you about your evening at Johnny O's. [Laughing] What do you want to know?
I don't know. I'm just following orders here.
Well, as a Cornell student-athlete, it's very important to be able to juggle -
Is this the boilerplate?
- athletics, a social life, and academics. The combination of -
Are you reading off a script? Are there cue cards behind me?
- all three are essential to your well-being during your undergraduate experience.
Where does Johnny O's come into this?
You don't know?
I'm a very good role model for my team. I represent my team in the best way possible.
"I do not recollect, Mr. Senator."
8. If Earth had to play an alien world in a game of basketball, and losing meant total annihilation, what's our starting five?
Oh wow. It could be anyone in the world?
Anyone who's still playing ball. So, not "Kareem from 1971," for example. Imagine that the game is tomorrow. Our lives depend on this. NBA rules.
Okay, the starting five would need to have Steve Nash at the point guard.
You still love Nash? Even after he left you for Phoenix? It's the hair, isn't it?
I have a thing for long hair. I had a crush on Brian Grant just because of his dreads. It's weird, because he's not even that cute.
I'll go with Kobe at the two.
Kobe Bean? But he's just going to jack up 40 shots and we'll all die.
No, it'll be okay. Steve Nash is a playmaker. Kobe will shoot. Then we'll put LeBron James up front with ... hmm... we can't have too many scorers.
Yeah, who's playing defense? Nash sure isn't.
We'll put Tim Duncan at the four because he's a lot like Nash. He's level-headed and has good fundamentals and doesn't need to score. And he's smart.
Yeah, he stayed in school.
At the five, I think we'll go with Shaq just for old time's sake.
Old time's sake? Who's a better center than Shaq? Mehmet Okur? Rasho Nesterovic? Zydrunus Ilgauskus? Darko?
Actually, I want to go with Shawn Bradley. He was in Space Jam.
Shawn Bradley? Are you freaking kidding me? The Stick Figure? You'd trust this guy with your life?
He was in Space Jam! He knows about aliens and stuff!
Oh, well that's a relief! I don't think Bradley is even in the League anymore.
I don't care. Shawn Bradley is playing center. It will give him a chance to redeem himself.
I guess the aliens need someone to dunk on.
He'll be good! He's tall!
Well, then why don't we knock the rust off Manute Bol and Gheorge Muresan while we're at it?
It'll be his chance to go out on top!
You're going to kill us all.
9. What's the hottest men's team at Cornell?
Men's squash? Are you screwing with me? I'm from the northeast, man! I don't like it when people screw with me! I'm not nice like people from Texas!
Are you kidding?
You want to back this up with some evidence? Give me some names? Because I don't think you're serious. No one in the history of 10 Questions has ever picked men's squash.
Umm ... because ...
You have no idea. Look, I appreciate the sarcasm, and in fact, I respect it. But, you don't even know any of their names, do you?
Umm, I've seen them work out in the weight room.
And they're HUGE.
They look like nice guys.
They are, actually. I know a few of them.
See, that's why they're hot. It's not just about looks. That's the difference between guys and girls. We look for a total package.
I think I've just been insulted.
We're looking for "good" guys, so that increases their attractiveness.
Fair enough. But men's squash?
Why? Are you saying that the men's squash team is ugly?
Hey, I'm an impartial journalist. I'm just shocked, is all. Is it the racquets or something?
Yeah, you know, the whole backhand thing. Are there backhands in squash?
Yes, I believe their racquets do in fact have two sides.
There's just a lot of skill involved. They have to play off all the walls. Agility, endurance. Yeah. Because you can only find those qualities in squash players.
And it's rare! It's like a one-in-a-million thing. It's not like football players, who are a dime a dozen.
10. If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
First would be Oprah, just because -
She'll give you a free car?
Maybe! No, just because ever since eighth grade, it's been my dream to host my own show.
And your first guests will be the Cornell men's squash team.
Yeah, I'd just want to talk to her. I want to be her.
She looks great now.
Not without make up, though.
Yikes. Okay, two more.
My Dad. Because -
Haven't you eaten dinner with your Dad for your entire life? Like from years zero to 18? I think I value that more now. That's what I want to be able to do, just go have dinner with my Dad. Are you a Daddy's Girl?
Yes, very much so. You can ask anyone.
Did he brandish a shotgun when you'd bring boys home in high school? I mean, this is Texas, right?
No, he was actually really relaxed about that sort of thing. We spent a lot of time on basketball. You'd have thought I was a little boy running around -
I don't think you're helping out with that stereotype we discussed earlier.
[Laughs] The third would probably be Jessica Simpson.
[Bangs head against table, repeatedly and with vigor]
Because, no, because -
I don't even have a joke here.
I think it would be cool! She's from Dallas. I would like to know -
If there are chickens in the sea?
No, the inside scoop with her and Nick, with their whole breakup.
I'm speechless. I am without speech.
She would be fun! Most people pick these important people, and the conversations would be all serious. But I just want to sit back and have fun.
10 Questions With Per Ostman appeared every Thursday this semester, except when Per insisted on writing about the Red Sox and Sheryl Swoopes. If he passes all his finals, 10 Q's will return next semester. You can wish him luck at email@example.com.
Archived article by Per Ostman