BASKETBALL ISSUE | Language adds to game experience

by Aly Martinez

Basketball has gained tremendous popularity across Butler University’s campus within the past few years, but one thing that never changes is the importance of recognizing basketball’s vocabulary.  Comprehension of the language is essential when appreciating what’s going on throughout the halves.

It could be assumed that supporters would become more familiar with the most common terms and phrases used. However a number of people remain behind on the jargon.

Sophomore Derek Brown said he could typically get into watching the Bulldogs play at Hinkle Fieldhouse, but he said he feels most fans are just yelling to yell.

“There are people who get on your nerves because they don’t know what they are talking about, and there are those who do know what they are talking about but are getting way too intense,” he said.

To avoid being one of those clueless fans, it’s best to brush up on the basic terms used to describe certain actions and calls that are said during a game.

Tisha Hill, assistant Women’s Basketball coach, said her favorite expressions are the ones most commonly heard.  Some words she mentioned were “shoot,” “dribble,” “rebound,” “box-out,” “pressure the ball,” and “foul.”

During practice, Hill said the coaches tell the girls, “don’t let a player face cut you.”  She said it sounds pretty violent, but it means not to let a player from the opposite team jump in front of you and cut you off from the ball.

Another fairly uncommon term Hill said the coaches frequently shout out is “caboose.”  Hill explained that to caboose during a game means to chase a screen.

Alex Prittie, a sophomore, said he likes that there’s a whole language around basketball and that there can be several words to describe one action.

Prittie brought up the fact that terminology differs from group to group.  He said the terms and phrases he uses when he’s playing at Butler or at home are not the same as what he hears in the gym he practices at during the summer.

“In the summer, the style of game is much quicker and fast-paced,” he said. “So since the style is different, our speech is also very different.”

Prittie did stress the importance of knowing the fundamentals of the language and said he likes hearing the terms associated with the more exciting plays such as “kiss the rim” or “honey dip”— both expressions referring to dunks.

Junior Laura Smith said she grew up on basketball, and that aside from the constant scoring and physical contact of the game, the terminology also kept her interested.

Smith said there is a variation in the way certain crowds speak when talking about basketball.  She said the biggest differences she has noticed are between genders and age groups.

“When I played, if we wanted someone to really guard their person, we would say ‘be like gum on their shoe,” she said.

Brown said,  “Every group will have its own little spin on the language, but there definitely are some basic terms and phrases that everyone should be familiar with.”



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