March 22, 2015

Outré basketball commentary of the day.

I'm not much of a sports person, though I have gone to a few baseball games in my life — including seeing Mark Fidrych at Tiger Stadium in 1976. And — even though, as a teenager, I wished for football to just end — I've come to enjoy sitting around with Meade watching Packers games on television. But I do not like basketball. I want the Badgers to win everything, of course, but I'm a complete outsider to basketball.

So I have my outré commentary. 5 days ago, I called it "the indoor game with unusually large people — men in silky skorts — in a cramped, squeaky place." 2 days ago, I commented on the chairs:
[T]hey bring chairs out onto the field of play during time outs so they can sit and talk. They never bring chairs out in baseball or football. Chairs! Ridiculous!
See what I mean? Outré commentary. You know what outré means, don't you?
bizarre, bizarro, cranky, crazy, curious, eccentric, erratic, far-out, funky, funny, kinky, kooky... offbeat, off-kilter, off-the-wall, outlandish, out-of-the-way, odd, peculiar, quaint, queer, queerish, quirky, remarkable, rum [chiefly British], screwy, spaced-out, strange, wacky... way-out, weird, weirdo, wild
So I'm reading about last night's big upset, fragments of which I saw out of the corner of my eye as I edited home movies from the 1950s, did the Sunday crossword on the iPad, and chatted on the telephone about the TV show "Shameless." "Did a big upset just happen?" I asked upon getting off the phone. Yeah, it kind of did. Good, I like upsets. Upsets seem exciting. So, this morning, I was reading "North Carolina State Adds to Its Lore by Shocking Top-Seeded Villanova" in the NYT:
North Carolina State pummeled the Wildcats in the paint, outrebounding them by 45-32. And the Wolfpack complemented that strong play down low — forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman each had a double-double — with dynamic guard play. 
Outrebounding. What is that, some sort of bizarro, eccentric, erratic, funky, kinky, kooky, outlandish, spaced-out, weirdo, wacky bounding? Now, that I would like to see. I'm just about to express my fascination with this new basketball word I've discovered in the New York Times when I see that it's out-rebounding, not outré-bounding and that my hope for something screwy and oh-but-they're-so-spaced-out about basketball is shattered.

52 comments:

harrogate said...

I totally called that upset last night. I've seen a goodly number of Wolfpack games this year and they went into this tournament very underrated. Moral of the story for 'Nova: "Don't turn your back on the Wolfpack/ or you might wind up in a bodybag."

Hagar said...

Basketball is a good game (amateur basketball, that is). It favors tall people, but that is fair, since just about every other kind of sport favors relatively short, wiry people.

Meade said...

"shattered"

Yeah — just like my brackets.

Original Mike said...

I bet Nigel Hayes knows what outré means.

iowan2 said...

Hagar you may want to point that out to UC-Irvine.

Snark off

Seriously. While height is an advantage, like bulk is an advantage in Football, teams that rely exclusively on those physical attributes litter the Loser brackets.

SteveR said...

At some point they should just let every team into the tournament.

Bob said...

Kind of like the time I was excited to see a story about a superb owl, and was disappointed to find it was actually about the superbowl.

madAsHell said...

Are we missing a men-in-shorts tag?

Marc Puckett said...

As I get older, I find that language and it's history and quirks is one of the increasingly few interests and pleasures with no downside whatever; thanks for sharing your perspective on it.

Laslo Spatula said...

Outréageous interpretation.

I am Laslo.

Bill said...

Here's my kind of basketball.

rehajm said...

1. In case it wasn't explained, visiting teams sit on the court in chairs so home team fans don't listen in on the huddle and steal plays, strategy, etc.

2. Though it may have originated elsewhere eavesdropping on the visiting team was made famous by the enterprising student fans at Duke University.

3. The student fans at Duke nicknamed nicknamed the Cameron Crazies.

Big Mike said...

I thought 'Nova wasn't a number one seed. I thought NC State was better than an eight. I still think Virginia is underrated as second seed.

You'd think that this improves Virginia's chances of getting to the Final Four, since they beat NC State twice in the regular season, but it's very tough to beat an ACC team three times in a season. Moreover Virginia has to get past Michigan State (which is leading them as I type this).

I don't actually fill out brackets. I like college basketball way better than I like the pro game, but I still don't watch it all much or follow it closely to have an educated opinion on the various teams. Living in the greater Washington metropolitan area as I do I do get to see a lot of Maryland, Georgetown, and Virginia games so I have some interest in those three. (Yes, I watched Utah beat G-town on prime time last night.)

Spread Eagle said...

When James Naismith invented the game he never envisioned it going "above the rim," or that it would be a sport dominated by very tall people. In fact, he wanted the basket to be "unguardable," and believed that 10 feet high would be too high and out of reach. Maybe 20 feet would be more like it, and put the emphasis on athleticism and shooting ability, instead of heighth.

traditionalguy said...

Rebounds are bound off the rim, so the near misses are close to the basket for the tall players to jump for but the bad misses bounce 20 feet back to where the active shorter players roam and beat the others to them.

rehajm said...

Bar bet most likely to allow you to drink free during the tournament**-

Spell Krzyzewski

**Odds reduced in the state of NC, at Duke University Alum events, against certain ESPN employees and fans of Polish heritage, and when the word Krzyzewski is displayed on screen during the tournament.

rhhardin said...

Short people got no reason to live.

linsee said...

One of the newspapers I worked for had a naming convention for editorials that placed an e before the topic. That is why I found myself puzzling over a file named "eromania."

dreams said...

Basketball used to be a better game, the current players can't shoot, don't/won't block out (position themselves between the goal and the opposing offensive players to prevent or lessen their advantage of getting the rebound of a missed shot) and most current players don't know how or for some reason refused to use the backboard to score easy layup points.

rhhardin said...

I am historically so uninterested in basketball that I have no idea what the rules are. It's like cricket to me, or soccer.

I know the rules in fencing, though, so I'm not a complete idiot in sports.

Sebastian said...

"put the emphasis on athleticism and shooting ability, instead of height"

Of course, the best (pro) players have it all. Which is what makes (pro) basketball at its (very rare) best amazing.

And of course, height is not necessary to be great. Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Allen Iverson . . .

Curious George said...

"Sebastian said...
And of course, height is not necessary to be great. Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Allen Iverson . . ."

Parker is 6' 2", tall by most standards and certainly not short even by NBA standards.

James said...

I'm surprised Althouse hasn't mentioned the Wisconsin players attempts to stump the stenographer: Wisconsin Players Are Obsessed With The Stenographer

James said...

Are we missing a men-in-shorts tag?

The New York Times to the rescue: For College Basketball Players, Skin Is No Longer In

JZ said...

Shut up! You saw Mark "the Bird" Fidrych at Tiger Stadium. Numerically, that's better than seeing Hendrix at Woodstock.

rehajm said...

For College Basketball Players, Skin Is No Longer In

Same as it ever was

traditionalguy said...

ATL. Hawks won their Conference already. Watching them play team b-ball is like a ballet of beauty and grace.
They are the Scott Walkers of the NBA.

Milwaukee is way back. So winning needs more than the Big Stars in NBA.

CWJ said...

Big Mike,

At least we don't have to hear Virginia fans whine about being underrated any longer.

Sebastian said...

"Parker is 6' 2", tall by most standards and certainly not short even by NBA standards"

Not by mine :)

But seriously, 6'2'' is average point guard height, well below NBA mean and median.

And since I may not have another chance to hold forth on basketball on AA's blog:

"Basketball used to be a better game, the current players can't shoot"

No: The best free-throw shooter in history, Steve Nash, just retired. Kyle Korver is still on pace for the best shooting season ever (50/50/90!). The best 7' shooter of all time, Dirk Nowitzki (48/38/88 career), is still playing. One of the most remarkable shooters I have ever seen, Steph Curry (47/44/90), is just reaching his peak.

Ann Althouse said...

"You'd think that this improves Virginia's chances of getting to the Final Four..."

Oops!

"I don't actually fill out brackets...."

I did. I have Michigan State playing Wisconsin in the final game. Just because that's what I like.

Ann Althouse said...

"I bet Nigel Hayes knows what outré means."

That was great!

Ann Althouse said...

Love the stenographer thing. Hadn't seen it until just now.

Big Mike said...

@CWJ, that's heartless.

@rehajm, if you hear the name pronounced, the only letters you will get right are the ending 's', 'k', and 'i'.

MadisonMan said...

Am glad MSU beat whining Virginia. I don't fill out brackets -- I don't follow College BB close enough to know things.

Like althouse, though, I like to see some upsets, within reason (my definition: When Big 10 teams are lower seeds ;) )

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Ann said:

"I want the Badgers to win everything, of course."


Why "of course"?

What difference does it make to you, or anyone else for that matter, whether they win or not?

I've been around for a long time and this whole idea of rooting for a team strikes me as utter balderdash.

Unless one is betting money on the game, of course.

Are you betting on the Badgers, Ann? If so, do you always bet on the Badgers or do you bet on the team you expect to win?

John Henry

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, Michigan State is always a contender in the NCAA tournament.

Meade said...

rhhardin said...
"Short people got no reason to live."

All men are brothers until the day they die.

Popville said...

Growing up in Raleigh, ACC basketball was our Major League. Everett Case ran the basketball camp I attended as a kid. And of course Go Wolfpavk is my mantra and the two teams I hate most in the world are Duke & Carolina.

Simon said...

Players of the electric guitar these days have access to a plethora of effects, some so common that they are rarely even considered on a conscious level, and others that the judicious player saves for such moments as demand a truly special effect.


Likewise, every cook loves his spice rack, but knows that while salt is omnipresent, tumeric, for example, is best reserved for special occaisions.

In the same way, the writer has such words and knows when to use them. "Outre," to my mind, belongs in that category along with words like "brio," "elan," and the like: Helpful, but best used sparingly.

dreams said...

"No: The best free-throw shooter in history, Steve Nash, just retired. Kyle Korver is still on pace for the best shooting season ever (50/50/90!). The best 7' shooter of all time, Dirk Nowitzki (48/38/88 career), is still playing. One of the most remarkable shooters I have ever seen, Steph Curry (47/44/90), is just reaching his peak."

I was referring to the college game.

Original Mike said...

"I've been around for a long time and this whole idea of rooting for a team strikes me as utter balderdash."

That's nice.

CWJ said...

Big Mike,

Look at it this way. If VA had received the #1 seed they thought they deserved, fully half of the #1s would already be gone. That's not good either.

Christy said...

I always liked basketball because fans are close enough and faces unblocked enough to read the emotions of players. That excites me and brings me into the game. Is it a girl thing?

jr565 said...

Basketball is a boring game to me. You could strip out the first half and then just make the second half be the game. Why do they need to score SO many points?
That being said, I do enjoy playoff games. I've seen a few that were nail biters in terms of the back and forth.
But regular season games, blechhh. I wont start watching till the fourth quarter.

JSD said...

Saw Mark Fidrych in May 1976 pitch a complete game at Fenway Park. He then lost 2-0 allowing a Carl Yastrzemski home run in the 8th inning with Carlton Fisk on base. Luis Tiant was the victor and also pitched a complete game. Best game I ever saw.

dreams said...

In the forties, fifties and into the early sixties in rural KY, high school basketball games were a main entertainment for local people. There might be three or four small high schools in each county, I'm not sure of the number, so they provided a good opportunity for a lot of boys athletically inclined to play basketball. In about the mid sixties the counties consolidated the high schools into one county high school which had the effect of limited the opportunity for many of those who wanted to play basketball. I think in many ways the fifties were an ideal time to grow up except for maybe the athletic girl.

Joe Schmoe said...

You know what basketball vernacular always puzzled me? When a player has an open path to the basket, the play-by-play announcer would say he went "unmolested" through the lane to score.

It bothered me because of the implied converse condition. If he wasn't wide open, would the opposing team actually be molesting him?

Big Mike said...

The Shockers pulled a shocker of their own.

gadfly said...

This Althouse gem is reminiscent of the finest-kind of Andy Griffith comedy.

Henry said...

Here's some outrébounding for you.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

I've never had the slightest interest in any sports...I remember even as a child always finding the white noise of sporting events on tv (the crowd's collective cheering blending into a non-stop "shhhhhhh," overlaid with the stentorian sound of the announcers rattling off their jargon-filled color commentary) indescribably off-putting and depressing. (The not dissimilar sound of vacuum cleaners has always affected me the same way.)

I remain baffled at the nearly universal obsession with sports by people around the world.

I agree with a point Noam Chomsky made years ago, in telling of his own teen-age years and of attending one football game at his school, that rooting for one's team teaches us to adopt an "us versus them" attitude, even absent any logical reason for it. Perhaps it's more accurate to say this is an innate feature of human psychology and that learning to root for one's team simply amplifies and deepens this tendency. We are just pack animals, after all.