Basketball phrases

A handy guide
by Dr. Robert Feathers


"A nickel and dimer"
"They've got length"
"Playing with poise"
"You can't teach seven feet"
"Cutting down the nets"
"Trying to stem the tide"
"Coaching them up"
"Attack the rim"
"They have the ability to score in bunches"
"Playing with a lot of emotion"
"Create off the dribble"
"She makes everyone else better"
"Ice water in his veins"
"The NBA's Mount Rushmore"
"High-volume shooter"
"Squeeze the orange"
"Nothing but net"
"Get the juices flowing"
"Playing within himself"
"Push the tempo"
"Sustain a level of defensive intensity"
"Playing with a sense of urgency"
"She has all the tools in the toolbox"
"That was a basketball play"
"This game is a marathon not a sprint"
"Active hands"
"You can't teach 6-10"
"High basketball IQ"
"Old school"
"He's been through the gauntlet before"
"He can jump through the roof"
"Size-wise"
"They don't want to get involved in a track meet"
"Building a foundation"
"Holding each other accountable"
"He commands paint touches"
"Calling for the rock"
"Above the rim"
"High-low"
"It's a matter of attitude"
"Stop and pop"
"He's got a scorer's mentality"
"That would've brought the house down"
"They make you earn it from the stripe"
"Defense never takes a night off"
"Oozing confidence"
"No style points in this game"
"That won't show up on the stat sheet"
"Attack mode"
"The rigors of conference play"
"The great players don't rest on their laurels"
"David and Goliath"
"As tough as they come"
"Forcing the issue"
"That was a character win"
"Let things come to him"
"Knocked down the J"
"It takes a full 40 minutes"
"A runaway train with ball handling skills"
"Create space"
"It's been a chess match"
"Make the extra pass"
"You can't teach anticipation"
"Milking clock"
"He can score at will"
"It's in his DNA"
"That's textbook"
"You can't question his toughness"
"Both teams have played with passion"
"You can't put a price on experience"
"She's playing at a high level"
"Paying dividends"
"Intensity on the defensive end"
"That's blue collar work"
"He's got some spring in his step"
"He plays well beyond his years"
"The game slows down for you"
"Cohesive unit"
"Full head of steam"
"A battle of attrition"
"Having that killer instinct"
"Ball reversal"
"One and done"
"Battle tested"
"He has the expectation tag"
"The basket expands"
"They've accepted their roles"
"This is a character group"
"They came out with fire in their eyes"
"Secure the rock"
"Exuding effort"
"Instant offense"
"Elevating his game"
"Low-post presence"
"That young man is something special"
"You can't teach length"
"Not for lack of effort"
"Rise up in rhythm"
"Cutting down the nets"
"He's got the thickness to body up"
"Inviting contact"
"She knows how to finish in traffic"
"Trying to put his team on his back"
"He plays tall"
"Senior leadership"
"He's a catch-and-shoot guy"
"That puts them squarely on the bubble"
"X-factor"
"Get the players to buy into his system"
"Wide body"
"They caught him ball-watching"
"They're a high-scoring outfit"
"Pick and pop"
"Tough as nails"
"He's done a really nice job in his activity play"
"He feels the game"
"Quality minutes"
"Put it to the deck"
"Value the ball"
"He's an energy player"
"Nervous energy"
"Handing out dimes"
"That jumper is wet tonight"
"They're a match up problem"
"Rise up"
"And one"
"Floor general"
"Squeeze the orange"
"Prove they belong"
"High motor guy"
"Initiating contact"
"She's savvy"
"You got to put a body on him"
"Finding their legs"
"The duck in"
"He's got a lot of spunk"
"Raised his level of play"
"Heat check"
"They never hit the panic button"
"Weathered the storm"
"Early season litmus test"
"Head on a swivel"
"Below the rim"
"Keep their eye focus"
"His bread is being buttered in the paint"
"He got his legs underneath him"
"She lets her game do the talking"
"They grind out victories"
"Post-championship hangover"
"Active and bouncy"
"Come ready to play for 48 minutes"
"He's a glass eater"
"Hand action"
"He's got tough eyes"
"Hotly contested"
"Right the ship"
"He's got a boatload of gumption"
"Interior presence"
"Contrast in styles"
"They hang their hat on defense"
"He plays a man's game underneath"
"An education in anticipation"
"Swallowed his whistle"
"You can't question their resiliency"
"Signature win"
"Skill set"
"They want to play 94 feet"
"She does not shy away from contact"
"Make him put it on the deck"
"She raises everybody's level"
"Championship DNA"
"Guard reliant"
"Hybrid forward"
"Got loose with the handle"
"Take it to the rack"
"Rhythm offense"
"Punching tickets"
"Absorbing contact"
"Absorb a bump"
"Dictating tempo"
"Perimeter oriented"
"Executing crisply"
"College basketball landscape"
"Teacher versus pupil"
"The body bang"
"Silky smooth"
"Toughness personified"
"They can't throw it in the ocean right now"
"Playing with house money"
"Hugging up on them defensively"
"A wellspring of coaching talent"
"Open floor soiree"
"Hung up in traffic"
"Put your best horses on the floor"
"Court stretchers"
"Pursue the tin"
"Heady point guard" 
"They out-veteran'd them"
"On the recruiting trail"
"Talking heads"
"Shake and bake"
"Gym rat"
"He's a leader of young men"
"Point of emphasis"
"From outside the property line"
"You can't teach motor"
"He exudes motor"
"He sold contact"
"They've been through the wars"
"Wide body banger"
"That was a splash jumper from the wing"
"They put you in the meat grinder defensively"
"Active hands"
"He's been shot-ready"
"Handle"
"That's the one thing you can't teach: poise"
"That was some string music"
"Acid test"
"They have great role acceptance"
"Yeoman's work"
"Poetry in motion"
"When the lights go on, he's not afraid of the moment"
"Hit the freshman wall"
"The soft teddy bear touch"
"Embrace the pace"
"High-percentage gunner"
"Zone buster"
"The season is a process"
"Energy plays"
"They've become a rudderless ship"
"Splash city"
"She plays above her age"
"That's a strong drive against some tall timber"
"They take on the personality of their coach"
"They can affect things with their length"
"Paint points"
"She's not gun shy"
"Belly up"
"Flex set"
"That's a return a favor foul"
"He keeps going back to the ATM and finally it pays off"
"High hands"
"A vocal, non-vocal leader"
"She's ripe for the record books"
"He's got some Spider Man in his game"
"Bumping uglies"
"Engaging in rock fights"
"They have a lot of basketball players that make plays"
"These kids are cut from a different cloth"
"Teachable moments"
"International flavor"
"Rebounding by committee"
"They come at you in waves"
"That's a big mental health basket"
"Resumed basketball activities"
"Hard hedges"
"Straddling the bubble"
"From bonus land"

Made-up nonsense that doesn't mean anything


"Dribble drive"

"Blowbyability"
"Activity plays"
"Anxiety fouls"
"Positive minutes"
"Glue guy"
"The ultimate glue guy"
"Face up floor man"
"Possession value"
"Extended burn"
"Tap-ahead"
"Lead out"
"Run out"
"Selective run out"
"That's a great step in"
"They got out on a rim run"
"Nice push ahead"
"Baseline rub series"
"Work rate"
"Tear drop rain bringer"
"Walling up"
"Run through"
"You can't give him any air space"
"That was a South Philly floater"
"Body seeking"
"Great throw-ahead"
"Lob-o-meter"
"Pump fake fly-by"
"Step-through"
"That was a shoot-behind"
"Leak out"

The Chris Webber Special

"You stick with who brought you to the dance, you stick with that girl." 

"You can't win a game in the first half. Just go into the locker room, put on your headphones, wash your hands, come back out."
"Monkey in the middle"
(On West Virginia's Billy Dee Williams) "Hopefully his game is as smooth as the actor"
"If you're lions, you don't worry about the complaints of a sheep"


Team, event, person, arena or network-specific phrases


"Carolina blue"

"Tobacco Road"
"The grindhouse"
"The family of networks"
"Raleighwood"
"Arizona basketball lore" 
"The Splash Brothers"
"The Mike Krzyzewski coaching tree"


Please don't mention these things again


"Coach K"

"Hack-a-(insert poor free-throw shooter's name)"
"The Cameron Crazies"