We trust you can say `Terps rule!'

Lingo: How to keep conversational balls in the air.

March 31, 2001|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,SUN STAFF

So you're going to a Final Four party this weekend, and you're worried because you know nothing about basketball?

Relax. We're here to help, with a few catchphrases and buzzwords which, if properly employed, will make you seem like one of the savviest fans since James Naismith (and if you've never heard of Naismith, you definitely need to read this article).

First, a disclaimer. Remember, as Alexander Pope said: "A little learning is a dangerous thing."

Not that Pope's important to know. He predates even the two-handed set shot. But do take his advice, i.e., use the following terms sparingly, and at the appropriate times.

FOR THE RECORD - The spelling of Lonny Baxter has been corrected for the electronic database. See microfilm for original story.

"Nice hops": Up-to-the-minute way to describe players who really get up in the air on their dunks and rebounds. Hipper still: "mad hops." Hippest of all: praise a player's "mad skillz." (The "z" in "skillz" is seldom apparent in conversational usage; save it for e-mail.) "Mad quicks" is acceptable for describing a good point guard. "He's got mad flava oozin' out of him" probably too hip for any party where French onion dip is served.

"Nice drop step": First, pick out the biggest man on the court. For the Terps, Lonny Baxter will be the guy. Never mind with Duke's players - they don't do drop steps, they just shoot three-balls (discussed later). If Lonny gets the ball close to the basket and scores, repeat this phrase. Even if he made a different move, it's unlikely anyone will notice you were wrong.

"Packer is a fount of negativity": Billy Packer is a CBS announcer who has become a big sourpuss over the years. Say this early on and you'll score points with every fan in the room.

Klingon/Sharpei/Head Ribs: Uncomplimentary nicknames for Duke All-America forward Shane Battier, who inevitably irritates Terps fans with his mad skillz or his tendency to act as if he is running for office. The nicknames come from his shaven, strangely grooved scalp.

"He needs to go inside and post up": What to say when someone complains about the sometimes lackluster play of Terps forward Terence Morris. Trust us, you'll sound like a genius.

"They should try a matchup zone": For when your team is giving up too many easy baskets. (Hint: don't use if your team is already playing a matchup zone. Billy Packer will tell you if they are, especially if they are playing it poorly.)

"Not enough weak side help": Alternative all-purpose comment after an easy opposition basket.

"En fuego!": Spanish for "on fire," pronounced "en fwago." A cliche (but still a winner) coined by ESPN's Dan Patrick. Shout it when Juan Dixon knocks in a three-ball.

The Walking Aneurysm: Little-known nickname for Terps Coach Gary Williams (because this reporter just made it up). Best used when the veins in his neck are bulging while he screams at an official, or at his team. If you're rooting for Maryland, say it with a hint of sympathy, unless the game is hopelessly out of hand. In that case it is fashionable to begin blaming the coach.

Ratface/The Ferret: Derogatory names to yell at Duke's Coach K. Just because he's good doesn't mean you have to like him.

"Slam bam jam, ba-beeeee!": Never say this after a dunk. A line used by sportscaster Dick Vitale at the volume of a 747 on takeoff, it will likely annoy a full 89 percent of your fellow fans.

"Better get a T.O., ba-beeee!": Another Vitalism, yet somehow this one's OK because it's considered derisive parody rather than mere emulation. Say it when your team is falling apart.

A final warning: Someone even more ignorant than you may ask you to explain yourself. First, try laughing. Then offer an incredulous, "Oh, c'mon!" If they insist, or, worse, question why you opened your mouth at all, only one option remains:

Better get a T.O., ba-beeee!

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