For Reference: A Basketball Jargon Lesson


Some basketball coaches, including Joe Sanchez at Payson High School, refer to player positions with numbers, 1 through 5, rather than names like point guard (PG), shooting guard (SG), small forward (SF), power forward (PF) and center (C).

In the interest of clarity, let’s define those numbered positions.

The “1” is the point guard or the player who is the team’s best ball handler and passer.

Steve Nash is one of the premier point guards in the sport.

The shooting guard is known as the “2” and is often one of the team’s better long-range shooters. A “2” also must have good ball handling skills and the ability to drive to the hoop. The finest “2” guards can create their own shots off the dribble.

The small forward is the “3” and is a player often considered to be the most versatile of the five players on the floor. A “3” player must be quick, have strength inside and the ability to draw fouls and get to the line.

Those players who can succeed as both a “2” and “3” are called “swingmen.”

The “4” is a power forward and plays in the post or low blocks. On offense they can play with their backs to the basket or set up for mid-range jump shots. They must also be good rebounders and strong inside defenders.

The “5” or center is sometimes called a “pivot” and is usually the tallest player on the team. The “5” plays near the baseline, close to the basket and must be an intimidating defender and good rebounder with the skill to score close to the basket.

Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are some of the finest “5’s” to play the game.

Devils, Cats clash tonight

With the battle between Arizona and ASU for the Territorial Cup set for tonight in Tucson, those that bleed maroon and gold are probably hoping for a repeat of one of the most memorable games in the history of the rivalry.

It occurred in 1975 when the Frank Kush-led Devils were 10-0 and ranked No. 8 in the country, and Arizona was 9-1 and No. 12.

On the line was the WAC championship, a Fiesta Bowl berth and, of course, all-important bragging rights.

The Wildcats took an early 14-3 lead by dominating most of the first half. But the Devils had the ball very late in the second quarter on the Arizona 8-yard-line.

On the final play of the half, quarterback Dennis Sproul took a five-step drop and found John Jefferson running a slant pattern in the end zone. He unleashed a pass that most everyone in the stands, including myself, thought was going to sail wide and be an incompletion.

But Jefferson leaped into a full-extension dive, snatched the ball out of the air and fell into end zone.

Today, Sun Devil fans call it simply “The Catch.”

Some on the Arizona side thought it should have been ruled and incompletion, saying the ball had hit the ground.

But those arguments went for naught and the Devils had cut the Wildcat lead to 14-10 at halftime.

The catch also gave the Devils the momentum boost the team needed in the second half.

Sproul’s fourth-quarter TD run gave the Devils an incredible 24-21 win and a ducat to play Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

ASU won the bowl game to finish 12-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation, the best in school history.

Those who witnessed Jefferson’s catch, which proved to be the difference in the game, remember it as the greatest play in Sun Devil football history.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.