Nov. 1, 2013
TODAY'S FEATURED PLAYER: Rayte'a Long
So., Forward, 6-0
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
As she heads into her second season at Vanderbilt, Rayte'a Long is ready to get things cooking for the Commodores.
The sophomore from Dayton, Ohio, who is revered by her teammates as the best chef on the squad, came into her own last season as a freshman, seeing action in 25 games, including an eight-point, five-rebound effort in her SEC debut against Mississippi State.
This season, she's looking to build on the experience she gained and emerge as a top-tier player, both offensively and defensively.
Off the court, Long has proven that she knows her way around the kitchen. In a preseason survey taken by the Commodores, Long was named the best cook by a run away margin.
Today, Long is our featured player as we continue our Countdown to Tipoff -- a two-week preview package that will spotlight a different player or coach each day. Long recently sat down for an interview with vucommodores.com to talk about the coming season and a few other topics. Here's what she had to say:
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH RAYTE'A
QUESTION: How big of an advantage it is to have a year of college ball under your belt?
RAYTE'A: (Going from) freshman year to sophomore year is definitely a night-and-day difference. This year, I have so much more confidence, and I know what's going on more. ... You see everything (that) you didn't see your freshman year. ... You get work done faster, you get things done faster, because you know what you're doing.
QUESTION: What do you feel like are some of the biggest lessons you learned last season in terms of what it takes, mentally and physically, to play in the SEC?
RAYTE'A: Coming in from high school, obviously it's a big difference. (And that goes) for freshmen all over the world, not just me. You have to be really mentally tough, especially down the stretch of the season. When the tough gets to going, are you really prepared for it? You really have to focus on being consistent -- and that was my biggest problem (last season). You have to be consistent. To do that, you have to be mentally tough.
QUESTION: Your teammates voted you the best cook on the team. What is your favorite thing to cook?
RAYTE'A: I am probably not supposed to say this, but my favorite thing to fix is a fruit pizza. It's a sugar-cookie crust with a cream-cheese-type of sweet mix and fruit. I guess (the fruit is) the part that (makes me) think it's innocent. But it's not. It's bad for you; it's dessert. I also love making spaghetti. I can make a bomb spaghetti. ... I just love food in general.
QUESTION: You are a long way from home, obviously. How often did your friends and family get to see you play in person last season?
RAYTE'A: For the most part, every home game, my dad was here. And I loved that. Being able to see your family is always great, especially when you are hours away from home and can't see them every day like you used to. When we went to Dayton last year, pretty much my whole high school and family (were there). We had a family reunion. That was a joy; that was great.
QUESTION: Which area of your game are you hoping to improve on the most this season as a sophomore?
RAYTE'A: I'm passionate about defense, (and this year) I'm hoping to be a defensive stop; like a threat every possession. ... Offensively, I want to be able to catch and score. You put the ball in my hands and I am going to score or get somebody else to score.
Favorite movie: Lion King
Favorite fast-food place: Chipotle
Favorite athlete (past or present): Steve Nash
Favorite vacation spot: Louisiana
Favorite celebrity: Kevin Hunt
Favorite TV Show: Law & Order SVU
Favorite band/artist: Temptations
Favorite thing to do on an off day from practice: Sleep or play with puppies
Favorite book: Life of Pi (by Yann Martel)
Favorite song: Player's Anthem (by Junior M.A.F.I.A.)
Most famous person you've ever meet: Outkast (Andre 3000 and Big Boi)
Famous person you would most like to meet (past or present): Martin Luther King Jr.
What is your oddest talent: Being me
My ultimate dream job: CEO of my own company
Name one thing on your bucket list: Travel the world