Deciphering the lingo of the courts

March 17, 1995|By Ray Frager | Ray Frager,Sun Staff Writer

In past years, perhaps you could escape the NCAA basketball tournament. But it has followed you to Baltimore this time around.

Hoopheads won't leave you alone. They speak in bewildering terms about things you're supposed to have opinions on. Every television is tuned in to a game.

We're here to help. What follows is a glossary of terms to stop you from double-dribbling through your next basketball discussion:

Big Dance, the: The NCAA tournament, when the Big Player can hit the Big Shot and later sign a sneaker deal for the Big Bucks. Also: the Big Show.

Block, on the: Where a player sets up to receive the ball near the basket. Also, where some of the out-of-town fans may go tonight if they can sneak away from their wives.

Dish: To pass the ball to a teammate for an open shot. Not to be confused with "dis," which is what you do to that teammate if he misses the shot.

GPA: Grade-point average. Almost never comes up during a tournament that can keep a player out of class for the large part of a month.

Heady: Adjective applied by announcers to short, slow players who can't shoot.

Kiss: Banking the ball off the backboard into the basket. This usage invented by announcer Bill Raftery, a big Ace Frehley fan. Only married members of the Brigham Young University team are permitted to try the maneuver.

Next level, the: Where college players want to go after they leave school, the NBA. Also, where an usher tells you to go when it turns out that scalper was lying about how good those tickets were.

Office pool: A gambling exercise in which you try to pick the winner of every game in the tournament. Called a pool because you get soaked for whatever fee is needed, and you never win. Invariably, the winner is someone's 12-year-old kid who picked the winners according to the most popular college jackets in middle school. The biggest entertainment value comes in seeing the office basketball expert lose his national champion in the first round to an upset by the Sally Struthers School of Career Advancement.

Paint, in the: A phrase indicating that a player is in the lane area near each basket. So named because the lane is often a different color from the rest of the floor. And, yes, we know that the entire court is painted. It's a basketball thing, you wouldn't understand.

Rack: The basket.

Rock: The ball. What you take to the rack.

Trey: A three-point basket, awarded for shots taken behind a line drawn about 20 feet from the basket. From the French tres, as in tres imbecile, which is what the coach calls one of his stiffs whose three-point attempt lands in the lap of a CBS executive sitting in a free courtside seat. Also: trifecta, long-range bomb, from way downtown, rainbow, from beyond the arc.

Vitale, Dick: ESPN announcer. Louder than having Metallica give a concert in your rec room. He has managed quite a successful career despite the handicap of being unable to speak standard English. Typically insightful commentary: "Uh-oh, look out! Slam bam jam, bay-bee!!! Are you kiddin' me? Are you kiddin' me? Are you kiddin' me?" (From an Iowa State-Kansas game this season, in which he was describing a player tying his sneakers.)

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