In the Locker Room With Matthew Walker and Randy Ollie


Sophomores Matt Walker (left) and Randy Ollie

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

This week the Review sat down with sophomore men’s basketball players Matthew Walker and Randy Ollie to discuss the challenges of playing on the road, the first time they dunked and the  NBA players they try to emulate.

How has the season gone thus far?

Matthew Walker: For what our expectations were in the beginning of the preseason, certainly below that. It started off pretty rough because we knew three of four teams [in the division] were ranked [nationally]. We knew we hadn’t really established an identity for ourselves yet and still had to figure it out. Our team went from one with a lot of potential to back to square one.

Randy Ollie: We just haven’t played to our full potential yet, which is a good and a bad thing. Obviously it’s a bad thing since our record is not the greatest in the world, but it’s a good thing since we have a lot of basketball ahead of us and we still have a chance to do some special things in terms of the conference championship, and maybe we can try to make the NCAA championships.

What are your expectations for the last four games of the season?

MW: If we win two out of our next three, we’ll make it to the conference tournament. If we get into the tournament, I don’t think there’s a team that can stop us if we play to our potential.

What is the highlight of the season so far?

RO: I would say beating DePauw [University] is my highlight. That was the first time Oberlin has ever beat a ranked team so it was good to be a part of some part of history.

MW: I think when we first played Wabash [College]. That was a team that we went out and completely demolished and demoralized and made sure there wasn’t a chance for them to win.

What’s the toughest part about playing on the road?

RO: I would say the fans. You never know what you’re going to get between obnoxious and ridiculous. We just played at Allegheny [College] and a fan had a blow horn when I was shooting free-throws to start the game, and that was kind of annoying.

MW: Probably the referees. I remember an occasion against Wittenberg [University] and their biggest guy was trying to start fights with people. And, immediately after the ref scolded us for it and then had a conversation with Randy.

What’s the weirdest thing a fan ever said to you?

RO: “Do you know how to read?” That was at DePauw this year. I didn’t get the joke, but I thought it was pretty funny.

MW: At Kenyon [College], one of them was trying to get me to dance during the pregame. He was like, “I know you remember coming here. Come have fun.”

You’ve had seven losses by single-digits. How frustrating is that?

MW: If anything, it’s a testament to our potential. Our potential is there. All those games, it comes down to the last three or four minutes, a stretch of maybe two missed shots, and they come down and make two baskets. Those are the stretches we need to do better in to win those games.

RO: I think that if you can take pride in a loss, you could make the argument that we can really play with anyone. We really only beat ourselves; no one ever beats Oberlin College basketball.

How does your off-court relationship help foster on-court chemistry?

MW: I think our team is pretty goofy with each other. In terms of on– court, we’ve been through six, seven, eight different lineup changes, so we all know how to play with everyone at this point.

RO: I like to think of the team as kind of like a family. Coaches are parents, you got your older siblings, your younger siblings. Sometimes people make you mad and you want to pull your hair out, but at the end of the day, it’s all love, it’s all family.

Are there any pro players that you model your game after?

MW: My two favorite players right now who I can say I play most like are Zach Randolph and, number two, my favorite player of all time, Charles Barkley. I’m nowhere near as athletic as Charles Barkley, but he was a 6’ 5” forward in the NBA, and I’m a 6’ 5” forward in college basketball.

RO: I like to compare myself to an undersized LaMarcus Aldridge. My mid-range game isn’t as good, but it’s getting there.

What about Oberlin made you want to come here?

MW: When I came to visit, I felt really, really comfortable. It didn’t seem like I would stick out like a sore thumb here. I could just fit in the way I wanted to fit in. The head coach and I have had a strong relationship. He seems like he’s really focused on my growth each day and each year. Also this school is beautiful. Except for in the winter. This sucks.

RO: I came to visit and I just loved the team when I came. I loved the coaching staff, and I got the sense that everyone wants the best out of you. There’s a lot of programs where you don’t feel that way in terms of academics, athletics and just the culture of the school.

Do you remember the first time you were able to dunk?

MW: It was eighth grade at a high school not far from my house. I was looking at the older kids play and I saw this one kid I knew dunk on someone I thought was really good. My coach came over and said, “None of you guys can dunk.” Right after that, I dunked and then my friend dunked, and we were like, “Yeah, shut up.”

RO: Freshman year for me. One day after practice we were messing around, throwing lobs, and amazingly I caught one for the first time ever. I puffed my chest out a little bit after that, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?

RO: Jabari Parker. I played against him in high school, seen him up close. He’s got the full package. In terms of whose game is NBA ready, that’s Jabari Parker.

MW: I would have agreed with Jabari Parker, but Andrew Wiggins as of late has been great. I think he has more potential than Jabari. Unlike Jabari, he plays defense.