Cougar of the Week: Ogechi Ezemma

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Photo by Jonathan Edelman

Ogechi Ezemma (’19) of Hope Valley, R.I. has given Clark Women’s Basketball a major lift in the post this year. She leads the team in rebounds and is the second leading scorer this season. Ezemma sat down with The Scarlet to talk about rebounding, adjusting to college, and dance-themed TV shows.

 

Scarlet: You have averaged seven rebounds a game this season. What is your approach to rebounding the ball?
Ezemma: During the games I don’t really think about rebounding. It just happens. My main goal is just to get the ball and move on to the next play, but [Head] Coach [Pat Glispin] really emphasizes boxing out, so that’s what I try to do during games.

Scarlet: You have also been able to score consistently in the post so far. What have you been working on to improve your game in the post?
Ezemma: Usually I go to my right most of the time, and defenders know how to read that. So I usually try to go to my left, and I’m trying to improve my jump shot also. I’m trying to be versatile with my post moves instead of just doing the same thing.

Scarlet: What’s your go-to post move?
Ezemma: Definitely the right hand layup.

Scarlet: Did watching Gwyneth Ivory (’17) execute that move inspire you to make it a go-to move? Nobody uses their shoulder better than her on that move.
Ezemma: Yeah, Gwen is really strong. I hate defending her because she’s just so strong, and she can do any move over me. But the right hand layup has been my go-to move ever since I started playing basketball.

Scarlet: When did you start playing basketball?
Ezemma: I started playing basketball in fifth grade. One of my teachers recommended to my parents that I start because I was really tall. So my parents put me in a rec league in my town, and I started playing middle school basketball and I really liked it. I didn’t have a lot of confidence at first. Then I got into AAU, and just kept going with it and built my confidence up.

Scarlet: What is your hometown of Hope Valley like?
Ezemma: It’s a really small town, mostly country. I live in the middle of the woods.

Scarlet: What has been the hardest adjustment to college basketball?
Ezemma: I guess the difference between college basketball and high school basketball is definitely the pace. During my first game, I was really tired from running back and forth, and I was also really nervous. So just practicing has made me better, and definitely the players have made it an easier adjustment, and so has Coach.

Scarlet: How long did it take to feel comfortable?
Ezemma: At first I was really timid, mostly because of college and all, and it was a different environment. But once I got to know my teammates I realized that I was fine.

Scarlet: Who is the funniest?
Ezemma: There are a lot of funny people on my team, actually. I would say Dominique [St. Pierre (’18)] is the funniest. She’s always singing and being silly all the time.

Scarlet: Why did you choose Clark?
Ezemma: Clark was close to home. It’s about an hour and fifteen away. I’m also a biology major, and it’s a very good science school. I came and visited here during the summer, and everybody seemed really nice and open, so I felt like Clark was the right school for me.

Scarlet: Do you have an idea of what you want to do with your biology degree?
Ezemma: Yeah, after college I’m planning on going to med school. I want to be a pediatrician.

Scarlet: That’s awesome. Pediatricians are nice people. Do you have any free time? What do you like to do during it?
Ezemma: I have free time in between my classes and after basketball practice. During my free time I watch Netflix, do homework, obviously. I’ll try to FaceTime my sisters if I’m not home, and sometimes on weekends I’ll go home to see my family.

Scarlet: What shows are you watching right now?
Ezemma: Right now I’m watching “Dance Moms” [LAUGHS]. “Dance Moms” is one of my favorite shows, which is really weird. I also watch “Bring It!” so definitely a lot of dance shows, even though I don’t dance.

Scarlet: Do you feel like your parents were less hovering about basketball than the Dance Moms are about their children’s dancing lessons?
Ezemma: Oh yes, definitely. Dance Moms are scary.

Scarlet: Yeah, they always think they know more than the dance instructor, it’s crazy…What is the team looking to improve on as the season comes to a close?
Ezemma: Our coach has really been emphasizing connection on and off the court. We’ve been trying to have team talks, and most of the time during games if we’re down, we kind of give up, so, we’re trying to lift each other up more in games and be connected. It helps a lot.

Scarlet: Have you seen improvement in recent games?
Ezemma: Connection has definitely been better, especially on defense. Defense makes offense. We’ve been playing a lot better compared to the beginning of the season.

 

Thanks for the interview, Ogechi!