Things College Basketball Fans Say

We’re at that point in the offseason. The NBA draft is over, 2018 recruiting is still slumbering, and the international trips won’t be for another month. All I want to do is look back on highlights from last season, but as a Duke fan, the only way I can do that is with a six pack and a box of tissues (you get me, Indiana fans).

So instead, I’ve decided to highlight the large amount of silly, nonsensical, and downright bizarre things that college basketball fans say throughout the season. These are the sayings that make our friends question their friendships with us, and why our significant others realize why they are essentially single in March.

So, without further ado, here are a few of the phrases. Some of these have lots of variations as well. And yes, I say a lot of these during the season too.


  1. These refs suck, it’s like 8 on 5 out there!

Ah, the most famous phrase. If an average person looked on Twitter or on any sports forum during a game, particularly a rivalry game, they would see both fanbases acting like their games are being refereed by the Three Blind Mice. It’s so easy to do, as a fan. My team is struggling, there isn’t a rhythm to the game, and the other team is pulling away. It must be the refs! Of course, refereeing college basketball is so hard that the refs are going to make bad calls both ways, but it’s the ones against our teams we remember, and exaggerate. That Euro-step in the first half looks more like the guy carried it from half court.

  1. Crap, Ted Valentine is reffing our game.

Ah, Teddy “TV” Valentine. Somehow, he has been able to unite all the wide-ranging college basketball fandom to hating his guts. Not even John Calipari could do that. He has done so by reffing every game as if he is the reason we’re watching. Whether it’s a high-profile ACC game or a Big South Friday Night, he never changes his style, and his mere presence guarantees a dozen bad calls per team, ten over exaggerated gestures, and one unnecessary argument per head coach.

  1. These commentators are totally biased against my team!

Another popular phrase. We all agree that ESPN has an agenda about who they want to see play, but we disagree on which teams they want more (aside from SEC football, they milk that cow hard, but that’s for a football article). As such, like the refs, you’ll see on Twitter complaints about biased commentators for both sides. Normally, it’s usually one positive comment blown out of proportion, so none of them really are biased. Except Jay Bilas, he’s so anti-NCAA he’ll openly root for any school in trouble with them (looking at you, Louisville, UNC, and Syracuse).

  1. Why is our coach not calling timeout? These timeouts don’t carry over!

It’s at the end of the game, your favorite team has blown a lead. But your coach doesn’t steady the players or discuss the strategy, thinking instead the players can just play it out. Then it all backfires, the other team pulls away, and your team loses because the coach thought he could redeem the timeouts for free gas cards.

  1. Eh, they just got lucky, we got it next time.

Your team has just lost an important game, and you’re trying to rationalize. Aside from refs, this is the most popular excuse I know of. The other team’s performance was an aberration, they won’t shoot that well again. And your own team’s hot shooting or role player dropping 20? Totally normal, will definitely carry over.

  1. Why are there guys who haven’t played yet? Our starters are gassed!

It’s the second half, and you look on your team’s bench, and you see six guys that are still wearing their warm-up shirts, looking all set to check in if called. And then you look on the court, and at least two guys are doubled over, panting, needing a rest. And then you wonder where that scholarship money could have gone instead.

  1. I wish our guys could play some defense.

Defense wins championships, but it’s been put on the back burner of late in college basketball. Coaches may love the defensive stopper, but most fans (and NBA owners) prefer the high-flying scorer, so that’s what gets the big bucks in the NBA. This results in games where it looks like a player has never defended someone in his life, and much grumbling from the fans, particularly after a defensive meltdown.

  1. Those guys are replaceable, we won’t miss them next year.

It’s the end of the season, and your three best players are all graduating. These are guys you’ve loved for four years, and who you’ve said are essential to your team’s success. But now that they’re gone? Nah, they totally weren’t important. We’ll replace them in the lineup and we won’t drop off at all.

  1. Our guy should stay, but their guy should go.

It’s draft declaration season, and you’re scared your top player will test the waters. As such, the guy that you’ve been championing all season as one of the best in the game is suddenly not quite ready to leave, he needs to work on his game more. But that guy on your rival’s team with similar stats? Your rival can’t help him anymore, he should be on his way to the big time. And then you shower for an hour because you feel dirty saying something positive about your rival.

  1. Our four-year guys are well developed, their four-year guys haven’t changed a bit.

Your seniors have finished their careers, and you couldn’t be prouder. You’ve seen them slowly but surely grow into good players, and even if they were supposed to leave earlier based on their recruit ranking, you know it was all about the process. But the four-year guys on your rivals? Please. They all could’ve been OADs if they had developed them in the slightest bit. Instead, they stayed all four years, basically the same players as before. What a shame.

  1. Their five stars are going to struggle, but our four stars will contribute immediately.

You’re looking at your shiny new toys for next season, and you can’t wait to see them out on the court. They won’t suffer from any traditional freshman struggles, nah. They’ll contribute at a high level immediately, and we’ll hit the ground running. But their guys, even though they might be more talented, they aren’t as special. They’re going to struggle, they will hit that freshman wall. I almost feel sorry for our rivals. Almost.

  1. We’re so good this year, we should easily win most of our games, maybe go undefeated in conference.

You’re looking at your team’s schedule, and you’re salivating. You’re so much better than the rest of your conference, you could go undefeated and no one would bat an eye. Other teams in the past have had off days that have led to a loss or two, but not you guys. You guys are special, there’s no way you’ll have an off day.

  1. Is this the year Kansas finally doesn’t win the Big 12?

Ever since Bill Self took over Kansas in 2003-04, Kansas has had a death grip over the Big 12 title. But every year, there’s always the question: is this the year? They lost so much talent, their recruiting class is weaker, the Big 12 is stronger. I think this is finally the year they fall short. Then they win the Big 12 again, making us look silly. Then they usually lose earlier than expected in the tournament, making us look less silly.

  1. Our rivals got such a cakewalk it’s ridiculous!

It’s Selection Sunday, the day everyone has been waiting for. You see your rival team pop up, look at their bracket, and are furious. Their bracket is filled with west coast teams, high majors, and non-traditional teams. It’s a total cakewalk, you’d kill (or at least injure) for that kind of bracket. Lucky SOBs.

  1. The bubble is the weakest it has ever been this year.

Ah, yes. This is becoming a very popular phrase come March. Thanks to the three new at large bids added, it seems weaker and weaker resumes are accepted for tournament consideration. Naturally, this has coincided with the slow death of the mid-major, as more and more of the classic mid-majors are now in stronger conferences. While there is a slight element of truth, just remember that a Last Four In team has won a first round game every year, and Gonzaga made it to the title game, signifying there is still some strength left in the remaining mid-majors and Last Four In teams.

  1. This team has the most annoying fans in the country.

This is a comment made to describe a lot of different fanbases, usually to the programs that are the most successful (Kentucky, Duke, UNC, Kansas). This usually happens after a close game where the winning fans feel the need to toot their own horns. Naturally, the losers would rather not hear this, so they call the fans the annoying fanbase. Of course, every fanbase has those annoying members, it’s just a matter of being able to tune them out. And have I ever been one of those annoying fans? Well, if you can tune out all my family and friends yelling “YES!” from off the screen, I just say you probably shouldn’t see me after an important Duke win.

  1. When is college basketball coming back??

In spite of our differences, this is one phrase that every college basketball fan can agree on. In the droves of summer, where ESPN can only get one baseball game a week and force their talking heads on us even more, the promise of college basketball in November is the only thing that keeps us sane. This annoys our friends to no end, but they hopefully understand. As July fades away, let us remember we are more than halfway through the offseason. Thank goodness for that!

Mark Stouffer
Senior at Purdue studying Statistics. Also a life long Duke fan.