Stop the madness

So I’m watching March Madness with my husband and suddenly, I need a simultaneous translation.

I realize I came from a generation that did not encourage women to be athletic. I had no basketball-playing siblings and while I dated some basketball players in high school and watched some games in college, I wasn’t listening.

My consequent lack of familiarization with basketball terms leaves me shaking my head and putting my TV on subtitles, as the commentators call the games.

I’m trying to follow comments like: “It’s about their ability to master the post up.” And “This gives him a real presence on the interior.” “They’re gonna live and die with their 3s,” or “He had a bunny there, but wasn’t able to transition.” Say what?

Expressions like “tapped up, dipsy-do, get to the back boat, putbacks and able to convert in transition,” sent me running to my computer.

Finally, after watching three or four games, the total immersion started to pay off and I found my ears making some sense of the patter, but as soon as they went to the half-time commentators, I was lost again.

“These guards can get up under you where taller ones only get on you,” and “This guy is a real glass cleaner.” “Get it over the contest,” “You don’t live by the jumper’s grid,” “Gave him a read off that pick-and-roll,” and “Going to try to load to the basketball.” Beg pardon?

I’m unlikely to ever be truly fluent, even though my alma mater, San Diego State, made a proud showing this year. But either way, just watching Charles Barkley made it all worthwhile. He’s no Shaquille O’Neal, but his commentary, whether I understand it or not, and clever commercials will keep me tuned in.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer trying to decide who to root for now. (Go, Aztecs) Contact her at



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