'Score the basketball?' Ya think?

Mangling language is bad for basketball, life itself

You try to score this during a basketball game. It’s a basketball.
You try to score this during a basketball game. It’s a basketball.

Another college basketball season nears its end. With it comes another year’s worth of my grievances about meaningless drivel we’ve been forced to hear over the winter.

“Sense of urgency”

Coaches, players and the lowest life-forms in media use this phrase like crazy. But why?

A hint of style doesn’t make you a fashionista. A wisp of impending doom doesn’t mean you’re doomed, though it’s probably the wisest way to bet.

A sense of urgency is like a trace of a monsoon. Do you have urgency or don’t you? If you do, it’s more than a sense. You need to press the gas pedal, baby.

If you’re down 12 points with six minutes left you better have more than a sense of urgency. You need to get your act together immediately. We’re trying to win a ballgame here.

“Ice water in his veins”

This is attributed to those who can make a shot in a crucial situation. It is, obviously, ludicrous.

Four of every five physicians tell you ice water in your veins actually inhibits your performance in many of life’s more strenuous activities, like living.

In a related matter, if you’re a player it’s better to have a figurative fire in your heart to win than to literally have concession stand nachos in your stomach at halftime.


And if you really bleed your school’s colors, it’s probably best if those colors are red and red.

“Expect the unexpected”

Announcers will occasionally say this when two longtime rivals square off. It is, of course, insane.

Go ahead, expect something that is unexpected. Try it. We’ll wait.

We were warned about this all the way back in the late 1960s when the Beatles’ released “All You Need is Love.”

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.

Nothing you can expect that you can never expect at all.

By the way, the walrus was Paul.

“Score the basketball”

You’ve surely heard the expression “Stop thinking, you’re hurting the team.” Well, if you have to think about what it is you’re trying to put in the basket, you’re hurting the team.

Lately, we hear more and more basketball people talk about “scoring the basketball.” Isn’t it kind of a given that the basketball is part of the equation? Seldom do you see scoring in basketball when someone puts a bowling ball through the net. Although, what a wild, koo-koo game that would be.

We don’t get this in other sports. Score the football? Score the soccer ball? What else were they supposed to score, their wrist bands? A garden rake? One year’s membership to a Soup of the Month club?

Has there ever been a basketball player in world history who truly needed “the basketball” tacked on to a mission statement that began with “Score?”

“Bought into”

This is another recent and awful development in modern sports.


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Athletes no longer accept instruction from coaches. They now “buy into” what their coaches are telling them.

Expressing concepts and beliefs and hoping your players accept their value apparently has gone out the window. You now must sell them on such things, and they must buy into what you’re selling.

This seems to be really big in Southeastern Conference basketball.

“This has been a group that really, since that point, has played for each other defensively and on the glass and has bought into being held accountable, too,” Florida Coach Mike White said.

“If we can put ourselves in a place to compete with Kentucky and whoever else is competing for a championship in a given year,” South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said, “then we are good enough to play against anyone in this country. Our kids have really, really bought into that.”

After Cuonzo Martin’s introductory news conference as Missouri’s new men’s basketball coach last week, Tigers player Kevin Puryear said “I know he’s completely bought into what we’re doing, and we’re all gonna buy into what he wants from us.”

I’m not buying any of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just saw a basketball player playing “like a man possessed,” and I must run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.


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