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Basketball Glossary

Definitions of some of the terms, team names, rules and sayings associated with basketball.
  1. Basketball Team Name Glossary (12)

Academic Progress Rate (APR)
The Academic Progress Rate is a metric created by the NCAA to quantify how much progress member institutions make in moving student-athletes towards graduation.

AAU stands for "Amateur Athletic Union" -- a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting athletics and fitness programs. Unfortunately, AAU boys' basketball programs are often linked to many of the less-savory aspects basketball.

In business accounting terms, amortization is the deduction of a capital expense over a period of time. In an NBA context, amortization is how the price paid for a team is reflected in that team's balance sheets.

An airball is a shot that misses... everything. The hoop, the rim, the backboard... the shot clock.

Alley Oop
An acrobatic play that ends in a mid-air slam dunk.

Ball Don't Lie
"Ball don't lie" has become the trademark catch-phrase of New York Knicks forward Rasheed Wallace. But what does it mean?

Assist is a statistic in basketball used to give credit to the player who "sets up" a basket with a pass.

Brick -- basketball slang for a particularly grace-less jump shot.

Amnesty Clause
The NBA's next CBA may contain an "amnesty clause," allowing teams to periodically remove player contracts from their salary cap numbers.

In NBA terms, "back-to-back" is a term used to describe a stretch of schedule when a team plays two games in as many days.

"Bruin" is an archaic term for a brown bear -- or any bear, really.

What is a charging violation?
The charging violation is one of the most difficult fouls to call in basketball. As such, it is often the most controversial as well.

Contact Period
A contact period is a date range on the NCAA's official college basketball recruiting calendar during which coaches can make "in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.

Dead Period
A Dead Period, as the name implies, is a date range on the official NCAA recruiting calendar in which little-to-no recruiting activity is permitted.

A "double-double" is a statistical achievement in basketball -- reaching ten or more in more than one category.

Defensive Efficiency
Defensive Efficiency is a statistic that measures the number of points an NBA team allows per 100 possessions.

What is a dynasty league?
A dynasty league is a fantasy league that plays out over the course of multiple years and seasons, with teams retaining players from season to season.

Basketball Related Income (BRI)
Basketball Related Income (BRI) is a term that covers most of the income generated by NBA games. The NBA's salary cap is based on a percentage of BRI generated by all NBA teams in a given year.

Elite Camp
Elite camps are invitation-only events that allow colleges to host top recruits for extended in-person summer workouts. They're also one of the least-regulated areas of recruiting and a major "gray area" when it comes to NCAA compliance.

What is flopping?
The NBA defines flopping as "any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player."

In business accounting terms, depreciation is the method used to track the cost of an asset over its useful life span.

Elite Eight
The "Elite Eight" refers to either the last eight teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament's field, or the fourth round of the tournament, in which those final eight teams meet.

Evaluation Period
An evaluation period is a date range on the NCAA's official college basketball recruiting calendar during which coaches and athletic department staff can assess prospects' abilities and academic qualifications, but cannot make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts.

FIBA is the federation that governs international basketball competition -- from the Olympics on down.

What is H2H Scoring?
Head to Head, or H2H is a scoring system common to many fantasy sports leagues, particularly baseball and basketball.

"Hoosier" is a nickname for any person from Indiana -- and by extension, the Indiana University athletic teams. What does it mean? No one's really sure...

Short for "junior college," juco typically refers to players who play at a two-year school initially, earn an associate's degree, and then transfer into a four-year college with two seasons' eligibility remaining.

Tar Heel
A nickname for North Carolinians dating back to the Civil War

Isolation Play
The isolation is the simplest play in basketball and, very often, the most effective.

Krzyzewskiville is an area of the Duke campus where students camp out to wait for basketball tickets.

What is the Ted Stepien Rule?
NBA rules forbid teams from trading their first-round draft pick in successive seasons. That prohibition is generally known as the "Ted Stepien Rule."

Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is a formal agreement that binds a given player to a given school.

Medical Redshirt
A college player who misses a year or more due to injury can apply to have his or her scholarship extended. This is called a "medical redshirt," which makes more sense once you know the background.

Flex Cap
The NBA owners have proposed what they are calling a "flex" cap to solve the league's financial problems. The players union says the flex cap is just a hard cap with a new name.

Memorandum of Understanding
A memorandum of understanding is a formal agreement between two or more parties, but not quite as binding as a contract.

Midnight Madness
"Midnight Madness" refers to a massive pep rally that many schools hold on the first day of basketball practice in mid-October.

Official Visit
An official visit is a formal visit by a potential recruit to a college or university. Student-athletes are limited to five official visits.

Mini Mid-Level Exception
The "Mini Mid-Level Exception" is a new salary cap exception introduced in the 2011 NBA CBA which allows teams over the luxury tax threshold to sign free agents.

What is a redraft league?
In a redraft league, all teams start from scratch with completely new rosters each season.

What is Pace?
Pace is a statistic describing how fast a basketball team tends to play, as measured by the number of possessions in each game they play.

One and Done
The NBA's rule prohibiting high school seniors from entering the draft -- a la Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James -- has given rise to a new class of college player: the "one and done."

Package Deal
In basketball recruiting, "package deal" often refers to a situation where a college program offers a job to the high school or AAU coach of a top recruit in order to get that recruit to commit.

Point Shaving
Point Shaving is the (highly illegal) act of purposefully holding down the score of a sporting event, in order to impact who will win bets against a point spread.

Hard Cap
A "hard cap" is a salary cap that cannot be exceeded for any reason.

What is a technical foul?
In basketball, a technical foul can be called for any one of a number of infractions not directly related to game play, such as fighting or arguing with officials.

Mid Level Exception
The NBA's next CBA may contain an "amnesty clause," allowing teams to periodically remove player contracts from their salary cap numbers.

What is a snake draft?
In a "snake" draft, teams select players in numeric order in the initial round, and that order is reversed in the second.

Point Spread
Given that a matchup of real equals in any sporting event is exceedingly rare, sports books create a point spread to handicap the superior team.

Quiet Period
A quiet period is a date range on the NCAA's official college basketball recruiting calendar during which coaches can only make in-person recruiting contacts on their program's campus.

Princeton Offense
The Princeton Offense is a system of basketball plays that features constant motion, precision passing and "back door" cuts to the basket designed to create easy shots.

"Poison Pill" Contract
A poison pill contract is an offer to a restricted free agent specially structured to make it difficult for the player's original team to match.

First Four
The "First Four" refers to the four games of the NCAA Tournament's new opening round, added when March Madness expanded to 68 teams for the 2011 tourney.

What is Rotisserie?
Rotisserie is a scoring system common to many fantasy sports leagues, particularly baseball and basketball.

A redshirt is a player who sits out an entire season of his or her sport in order to preserve a year's worth of eligibility.

Runners -- sometimes called "street agents" -- work to befriend basketball players with pro potential in the hopes of later signing those players to lucrative representation deals.

Show Cause
"Show Cause" is the harshest penalty the NCAA can levy against an individual.

Sweet Sixteen
The "Sweet Sixteen" refers to the last sixteen teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament's field of 65, or to the third round of NCAA Tournament play.

Like all college students, college basketball players have the option of transferring from one school to another. But because the NCAA is involved, transferring is far more complicated than simply making sure credits will be accepted at the new school.

Unofficial Visit
An unofficial visit is an informal visit by a potential recruit to a college or university.

"Walk On" is a term generally used to refer to a non-scholarship player.

In basketball, the term "wingspan" is used to describe a player's measurement from fingertips to fingertips when both arms are extended fully.

Roster Depreciation Allowance
Invented by then-Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, the "roster depreciation allowance" is an obscure section of tax law that allows professional sports teams to "write off" the declining value of player contracts.

What is a "Bourre?"
What is "Bourre?"

Soft Cap
A "soft cap" is a salary cap that can be exceeded for a variety of reasons. The NBA's current salary cap structure is "soft".

What is a "Trade Kicker?"
What is a "Trade Kicker?"

Play-in Game
In the 1990s, the NCAA Tournament included so-called play-in games, which would feature teams playing for the right to advance to the field of 64.

What is the Trent Tucker Rule?
Most NBA fans know it takes minimum .3 seconds to catch and shoot off an inbounds play. They might not know why.

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