Sports has its own language

By Lucas Deal

Have you ever noticed that there is an unbelievable amount of slang terms and jargon in college basketball?

The game is littered with corny catch phrases and lingo and whether you’re watching ESPN or the local news, you can’t seem to get away from it.

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I’ve personally always liked jargon in sports, simply because I think it adds personality to writing and reporting. Its fun to read and to say.

If I had to choose, I’d say baseball has the largest, most complete language of jargon, but college basketball is probably a close second.

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    Because four columns and a live blog this week have left me barren for good ideas, I’d like to present to you my top-five college basketball slang terms.

    Yeah I know, it’s a lazy cop out on my part, but I really don’t care because it’s Friday and I don’t have anything else left to say.

    Besides, the last two weeks have been pretty serious around here and we could all use a good break.

    So, without further ado, here are my top-five all-time favorite college basketball slang terms.

    1. Bubble Watch.

    Not to be confused with “Panda Watch” from “Anchorman”, Bubble Watch is a daily-updated Web page listing the current status of all bubble teams.

    I have no idea why these teams are called bubble teams and what caused the college basketball gods to anoint them as such, but I’ve always thought Bubble Watch was a pretty good title. And, unlike “Bracketology”, both bubble and watch are actual words.

    2. Spurtability.

    Coined by veteran CBS commentator Clark Kellogg several years ago, spurtability translates to exactly what it says: a team’s ability to go on scoring spurts. In 2005, Kellogg fell in love with Illinois’ remarkable spurtability. This season, North Carolina, Kansas and Florida have displayed the most natural spurtability.

    You want a prime example of what spurtability really is? Set your DVR back to Wednesday and check out the 22-2 run Virginia Tech dropped on Boston College in their game. That was spurtability at its best.

    3. Cinderella.

    I guess technically this is a Disney movie, but to every well-informed college basketball fan who submits a bracket in an office pool this year, it’s that little-known 13-seed that can make you look like a genius if they can somehow manage to knock off back-to-back ranked teams in three days.

    In most cases, the slipper usually fits for at least a win or two, but every once in a while Cinderella goes off. Such was the case last year when George Mason used a slipper, some magic beans, pixie dust and all sorts of Disney-related magic to shock the college basketball world and make it to the Final Four.

    4. Bottom Feeder.

    Unlike the last two references, a bottom feeder is not a good thing. As a matter of fact, if someone refers to your team as a bottom feeder, it pretty much means: You stink. Then again, if you couldn’t figure that out for yourself you’ve got bigger problems.

    As members of the Big Ten, Illinois is fortunate to play America’s consummate bottom feeder, Northwestern, twice a year. Northwestern has never won, let alone even played, in an NCAA Tournament game. I guess the kids up there are pretty smart but geez, you’d think even a bottom feeder would get thrown a bone every once in a while.

    5. Last but certainly not least: Dagger.

    A creation of color-man extraordinaire Bill Raftery, a dagger is a nail-in-the-coffin shot often made late in games. The Raft Man’s signature call is often imitated but rarely duplicated and has become a staple during the NCAA Tournament.

    Basically it works like this: If your team is struggling to stay in a game and Raftery or Gus Johnson drop the “D-word” on you after the other team scores, you might as well just turn the game off, because it is not your day.

    And there you have it, my five favorite college basketball slang terms. If you think you missed Dickie V, you didn’t. He’s just not in there.

    I doubt he minds.

    Lucas Deal is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at

    [email protected]