Ladyguide: How to Follow, Enjoy, and Talk About College Basketball.

Have you seen the IT Crowd episode where Moss and Roy use a computer gadget that feeds them lines about football AKA soccer in order to fit in with first the post guy and then some men at a pub? Like that app, this post will bring the knowledge to talk about college basketball’s “ludicrous displays.” Whether you just want a cheat sheet or you’re genuinely interested in getting into the game, this compendium of phrases and terms is for you.

1. Introduction to College Basketball History. Do not let Canadians fool or mislead you: while the father of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, was Canadian (and a great person), basketball was developed in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts as a healthy indoor sport alternative to freezing your balls and/or ovaries off in outdoor sports in the New England winter. Just one year later, the enterprising Senda Berenson, a physical education instructor at Smith College adapted the game for women. However, basketball truly came into its own when Dr. Naismith coached at the University of Kansas, and his disciples (Forrest “Phog” Allen, Adolph Rupp) took the sport to new heights at Kansas and University of Kentucky, respectively. Between then and now, we’ve banned Dean Ball (a reference to former great UNC coach Dean Smith who liked to turn games into giant games of keep-away [called “four corners offense”], forcing the introduction of a shot clock), introduced the dribble, and found Michael Jordan.

2. College Basketball Set-up 101. Two teams meet on a basketball court or “the court.” There is one, round, orange ball with a texture like goose-pimples. Each team has five players on the court at any one time and up to eight scholarship players on the bench. Game starts with a tip-off, where a referee throws the ball up and two players, one from each team, jump and try to “tip” the ball towards their teammates.  The game is divided into two 20-minute halves with a 15-minute halftime. If a game ends in a tie, the teams play in 5-minute overtimes until a winner is decided. The record for number of overtimes is seven in a game between Cincinnati and Bradley in 1981 (Cincy won).

3. College Basketball Lingo.

* walk – you must dribble every time you take a step. If you do not, you better hope you’re in the act of shooting (you get two steps) or else you’re going to be called for a “walk.”

* jump ball – Are two players going for a ball and neither seems to have the advantage? Are they all tied up? That’s a “jump ball” and teams take turns getting possession of the ball. In the NBA, the players jump for it (like in the tip off described above), hence the name. College is just weird.

* getting T-ed up ““ technical foul. Don’t mouth off to the officials, hit someone in the face, or take off all your clothes and you should be fine.

*soft D ““ This is not a comment on the status of someone’s genitalia, but rather a comment on how hard or soft someone’s defensive effort is.

* draining it from downtown ““ a colorful way to talk about “sinking a long trey,” which is a colorful way to talk about hitting a long three-point shot. Sometimes to celebrate a great trey, I sing the words to “Downtown,” Lucille Bluth style.

* points in the paint ““ You know how there’s a rectangle, often painted, beneath the basket and extending to the free throw line? Well, you do now. That’s the paint. Generally, getting a lot of points in the paint is evidence of a successful, aggressive interior game. You probably do a lot of rebounding, you sassy molassy.

* slash to the rim ““ One way to get points in the paint is to slash to the rim. Move fast and cut through defenders like they’re butter and wham, pretty arced shot or a nice lay-up  will do you well. If you’re lucky, you might draw a foul and get sent to the line for an “and-one” free-throw situation.

* pound it down low ““ Commentators love to say this, double-entendre notwithstanding. It’s another good way to get points in the paint – get the ball to your biggest, baddest center/post player and watch him shuttle that ball up and into the basket.

* perimeter game ““ An alternative to getting the ball inside, a perimeter game relies on long two point shots and some nice treys to fill up the scoreboard.

* man-to-man defense ““ The name gets at the heart of this term – each player is matched up with a player on the other team based on strengths/weaknesses and told to stick to that player like glue. This technique is employed if you are well-matched with your opponent.

* zone defense ““ But what if you’re not well-matched? What if you’re scrawny and can’t run in a straight line? Then you employ the zone defense. You hope that you match up better as a cohesive team than as individuals, like in man-to-man.

* post moves ““ It’s when your big center (the player near the bucket) acts like a ballerina, and spins and twirls and pivots to avoid defenders and get the ball in the bucket.  It’s so graceful and artful and just, ugh, beautiful. I’m serious, when you get a post-man that can boogie? It’s like angels.

One of the best parts is coining your own phrases.  Like last year, when Kentucky had star point guard John Wall, every time he made a swift cut to the basket, I’d call it a “Papa John’s Pizza Pie Delivery Service.” This year, I have an infinitely more streamlined and broadly applicable “Three Stooges Play,” which generally refers to any play where a number of errors happen in short succession, often creating a hilarious on-court scene.

A note for those filling out brackets – TART is in first place, followed closely by Mosh Moshkla. It’s still anyone’s game, though, so stay tuned. In the meanwhile, share your favorite basketball moves, memories, and phrases.

11 replies on “Ladyguide: How to Follow, Enjoy, and Talk About College Basketball.”

As an Arizona fan and longtime Dook hater, I am still riding high from last nights win. I love March Madness for so many reasons and I think if you take some time to follow your school you will automatically gain a love for the game. I carry my paper bracket around (even though I have an Iphone)everywhere for the entire tournament and as someone who is down with science I am so superstitious during basketball season…

One of my favorite quotes from last nights game-
“Imagine that: Coach K talking about being overwhelmed by an Arizona team that deploys but one senior, Horne – an Arizona team that was basically thrown together by scratch in the summer of 2009.” Greg Hansen.

Go Cats.

Arizona played a great, physical game and that’s exactly what it takes to take down Duke (who, despite their talent and ability this year, are a surprisingly soft team). Sean Miller has done a hell of a job there – he was a great hire and someone that I would not have minded seeing at the school I support (Kentucky). I also love that Arizona’s raw, young, cobbled-together team fought back against the “You need experience” storyline that the media’s been trying to peddle ever since the one and done rule went into effect.

I am really excited for the UConn/Arizona match up, especially since I think either team would be deserving of reaching the Final Four. Good luck to your Cats and congrats on a big big win!

I’m glad I supplemented your otherwise complete guide!

As a side note, I have such a soft spot for college basketball, though it doesn’t excite me as much as it did when I was a student and could attend games for free. I was a senior at UNC when Tyler Hansbrough’s nose was broken in the Dook game at the Dean Dome, and there’s really nothing like the atmosphere in that place against Dook. My school also won the national championship when I was a sophomore, and the subsequent all-nighter I pulled in order to go to work at the on-campus bookstore at 7 a.m. was well worth it. I got a free T-shirt that all my other coworkers who didn’t show up that early to earn one were jealous of all day, one that still hangs in my closet. Also the only class I had that day at 12:30 had about 150 students in it. The professor yelled at all of us on Thursday because only eight people showed up to class that Tuesday afternoon, most likely because they were still celebrating or had celebrated too much.

I watched from the Dean Dome that year (2009)! My ears were ringing for 3 days after wards from the amount of noise! And I’m sure I don’t need to describe what Franklin Street was like…

In other news, I wanted to do a little celebratory boogie for doing well so far, but it was obviously premature. As much as I hate Duke, I think they are a strong team and I had them going to the elite eight. I don’t know if I should be happy or disappointed about last night’s results… :P

Oh, I’m talking about the ’05 championship! I graduated in ’07. Sean May used to wander into my job at the campus computer store and get blank CDs and such. That guy was enormous.

I just can’t bear to like Dook, even to say that they’re good. They’re dirty players with a dirty coach. Did you hear of the song “This is Why You Suck?” That song came out after Hansbrough’s nose got broken as a spoof of that rap song “This is Why I’m Hot.” Damn, we were all screaming for DeMarcus Nelson’s ejection. And it happened!

My roommate had a photo that was sold at Student Stores of Franklin Street before and after the championship in ’05. It was a huge deal. A friend of mine climbed a streetlight with his camera, and I wish I’d gotten a photo from him. Ahhh nothing like a UNC victory celebration, is there? I’m glad you got to have one too in ’09!

Well, I’m a native Chapel Hillian, so I’ve been to every NCAA celebration since 1986, which should be 3 by my count! I have high hopes for this year, especially since Puke is out.

I’ll have to check out the “This is Why You Suck” track you mentioned. It’s a bit late, but no time liek the present for some Devil bashing! On a similar note, have you heard the Clef Hangers’latest Carolina-centric track? I’ve been listening to it before games to get pumped! Its hard being far away from the heart of the action.


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