Oklahoma senior Jelena Cerina would have had a heck of an adjustment, just going from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to OU. But add to that the fact that Cerina, a native of Serbia, was just getting used to America. She's settled in nicely this season, averaging 14 minutes a game for the Sooners, who will honor Cerina Sunday afternoon inside Lloyd Noble Center as the only departing senior. OU (19-10, 11-6 Big 12) is facing Kansas (18-11, 7-10) in its regular-season finale.
Did you have any sense how this would go, once you transferred from NEO to OU?
“It's been great. When I came, I expected it to be great, but it's been beyond great. I'd never been on a team that feels like family. I know every one of these girls has my back and I've got theirs. It's just amazing. We treat each other like sisters.
“I've been away for four years. Ever since I've been at OU, I've never been homesick. I've never thought, ‘Oh, I've just got to call my parents.' If I ever need advice, Coach (Sherri) Coale is there for me. She knows right what to say to me. I'm close to my brother, and he's at Northwestern in Chicago. I can call him, but whenever I can't reach him, I have my family here.”
Was it difficult to get acclimated once you moved?
“The first semester at NEO was hard. I knew English, I understood it, but I could not communicate very well. Then I got to know the culture and I relaxed. At first, though, it was like cultural shock. Everything is different. Here, everyone lives at a fast pace.”
Even at NEO?
“Yeah. Here, it's like go, go, go, go — no pause. Back home, it's like, you know, you go to school, take a little break, go to practice, take a little break. It's just like the chill mode all the time.”
What do you think about major cities like Dallas if you think this is fast?
“Whenever I was in junior college, I went to Houston with one of my teammates. That's where she was from. We had like a month for Christmas break, so I went home with her because I didn't have money to get home. It was like, ‘Uh, OK.' I remember saying, ‘So, this is just part of the city? This is not the whole thing?' She has brothers and we went to watch them play. It took us an hour and a half to go the gym. I was like, ‘Oh, lord.' Back at home, I would walk to my gym and it would take 40 minutes to walk, just casual. There, it took us an hour and a half, just to drive.”
What were some of the other adjustments for you?
“The pace is one. Oh, and then the food. (laughs) I was used to my mom cooking for me. We have like five McDonald's in the whole country, and that's the only fast food that we have. (My teammates) have to explain when we go somewhere what that restaurant has to eat. I don't know the difference, really.”