March means the cliches are blooming in college basketball. UConn's Khalid El-Amin provided some excellent examples after topping Seton Hall in the first round of the Big East tournament (March 9, 2000; AP):
"People were counting us out," El-Amin said. "We know what type of team we have. We can play with anyone and we can beat anyone. We have to bring energy and intensity every night."
About his star player, Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said: "He's as good a winner as there is in America."
Cliches find their way into all sports - even bowling. Here's a few remarks taken from the press conference that followed the PBA Chattanooga Open, where Parker Bohn defeated John May in the final match (February 6, 2000; Chattanooga Times & Free Press):
"I threw a couple of strikes to get ahead, but (May) responded," Bohn said. "My hat's off to John. He bowled great, and when you can come out and bowl against the PBA's best and do what he did this week, that says a lot."
May was gracious in defeat: "When I started out with a strike, I thought I was on, but the left lane was tight out and I waited too long to move left. I'm tickled to death to finish second, and I'll be back here next year."
One good turn deserves another. Darrell Walker (new coach), Michael Jordan (president basketball operations), and Abe Pollin (owner) weigh in on the shakeup at the Washington Wizards (January 31, 2000; Sports Ticker):
"Hopefully, I can be the guy to get things turned around here," Walker said.
"The thing I know about this team is they have underachieved for a long time." Jordan said. "I hope by getting Darrell here it's going to turn some of those losses into wins."
Added Pollin: "He (Walker) is a winner, a leader, and I know he will get his guys to play hard and get this thing turned around."
The sports cliches are swirling in the week of hype before the Super Bowl. Here's a sample of stuff that came out of Atlanta (January 28, 2000; NFL Insider):
"Our offensive line is quick and plays with finesse," says Ram quarterback Kurt Warner. "So I think that helps us to match up well with them."
"A lot of teams seem to play him (Warner) kind of tentative, kind of soft," Tennessee defensive end Henry Ford says. "That's not our mentality. We're not going to change what we do just because we're playing the Rams."
Adds Titans defensive tackle Josh Evans, "This is the Super Bowl. Everything will go up another level."
Will that be cash or charge? Give the Tennessee Titans credit, says Jacksonville defensive tackle Gary Walker (January 23, 2000; AP):
"They won the game, and they deserve all the credit given to them," Walker said. "To go through what they've gone through -- they just deserve a lot of credit."
He learned from the best - new Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt shows he's ready for the spotlight (January 16, 2000; AP):
"We've got a good solid foundation here. I like the nucleus of our team," Wannstedt said. "I feel totally prepared to step forward with this challenge."
Intensity comes in different forms, so it seems, and one would assume you'd want more good intensity than say...bad intensity. Maryland hoops coach Gary Williams explains after a 10 point loss to Duke (January 9, 2000; AP):
"I thought we played with good intensity, (the team) just didn't put the ball in the basket to be precise," Williams said. "We couldn't find the hot guy today and we paid the price."
In the playoffs, the cream rises to the top and the cliches are no exception. Here's what Dallas coach Chan Gailey and quarterback Troy Aikman had to say after getting ousted from post-season play courtesy of Minnesota (January 9, 2000; Sports Ticker):
"We made too many mistakes," said Cowboys coach Chan Gailey. "There were turnovers, dropped passes and mental mistakes. With those types of things, you don't give yourself a great chance to win."
"When you get in a game like this it comes down to a few plays," Aikman said. "They made the most of their opportunities and made some big plays, and we failed to do that. We had our chances and we let them get away."
Fired coach cliches? You betcha! New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft had some good ones after dispatching coach Pete Carroll on January 3, 2000 (Sports Ticker):
"This is a business of accountability," Kraft said. "Two years ago we won the division. Last year we made the playoffs. This year we failed to make the playoffs. We need a momentum change."
Slingin' the cliches like a wiley veteran, Minnesota receiver Randy Moss comments on his five catch, two touchdown performance that helped the Vikings beat Green Bay (December 20, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"I really wasn't in the game to be honest with you," Moss said. "I was just moping around and waiting for the game to come to me. I really wasn't as focused and that hyped...I tried to be patient, I tried to stay focused and just try and let my game come to me."
Ouch!!! Is it possible to shoot yourself in the foot too many times? New England coach Pete Carroll apparently thinks so in a statement made after a painful "de-feet" in Philadelphia (December 19, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"Obviously you saw it out there and it wasn't pretty," said New England coach Pete Carroll. "I just don't know want to make of it. I don't know what to say. That was a disgrace. You can't win too many games with all those turnovers. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times."
One foot-shot is enough for Philadelphia's Andy Reid, who has clearly polished his press conference skills, as demonstrated after a 10 point loss to the Cowboys (December 12, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"My overall evaluation of the game is that they came out more physical than us on both sides of the ball," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "We shot ourselves in the foot from the get go."
Pittsburgh Steeler coach Bill Cowher reveals that he has a firm grasp of the obvious - he coaches a football team and they're supposed to win football games. But if you say things enough times does that mean you're lying? (December 5, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"(This) is a football team, we've got four games to go and we've got to find ways to win football games. I keep saying that, but it is the truth. It's where we are at. That is the only thing we have to focus on."
Denver may have gotten out-played and out-coached in their loss to Kansas City, but they weren't out-cliched (December 5, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"Give credit to Kansas City," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "They found a way to win that game. We had our opportunities and did not take advantage. We got outplayed and we got outcoached."
Say what??? The NY Jets hold Indianapolis to just 13 points but still lose. That should be good enough for a win, says Jet coach Bill Parcells, but he's not saying that's good enough to beat the other team. So just what IS he saying? (November 28, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"If you hold this team to 13 points you should win," Parcells said. "I am not saying we should have beat them, but I know it should have been better than it was."
Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy pulls out all the stops and serves up a sports cliche hat-trick following a 16-3 victory in Seattle (November 28, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"I was proud of our team," said Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy. "They hung in there and kept fighting. We had a little bit of adversity but the guys continued to play hard."
According to Seattle running back Ricky Watters, everything, everywhere is great. But what about in Kansas City, where the Chiefs had just lost to the Seahawks? (November 21, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"It was a total team win," Watters said. "We knew coming in here that we would have to put our best foot forward and we did. We have a lot of heart. To come in here and get a win is great for the team, for the organization, and it is great for everybody."
After defeating Tennessee on November 7, 1999 and seeing the team record run to 7-1, Miami coach Jimmy Johnson makes a statement. Whoops, no he doesn't....or does he? (Sports Ticker):
"This (win) is not a statement," Johnson said. "The only statement we are making now is that we are better than the seven teams that we have played."
Cleveland coach Chris Palmer breaks down the Browns' 41-9 shellacking by the Baltimore Ravens (November 7, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"I thought the game really broke down to the fact that we did not make any plays on offense, defense or special teams."
Giant quarterback Kent Graham celebrates a Monday Night victory over Dallas by stringing together cliche after cliche in the post-game press conference (October 18, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"(This win) is a great foundation to build from," Graham said. "Offensively, we have been struggling but tonight I thought we came out and played 60 minutes and did what our coach asked us to do and made plays when we needed to make them."
Miami coach Jimmy Johnson on pride, big plays, and finding the winning way after a 34-31 victory over Indianapolis (October 10, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"I am really proud of our guys, the way they hung in there," Johnson said. "We gave them some big plays. We gave up some big plays on defense and we gave up some big plays in the kicking game. But our guys found a way to win."
Facing elimination by the Mets in game 4 of their best-of-5 series, Arizona manager Buck Showalter stands up and delivers (October 8, 1999; Sports Ticker):
"Our backs have been to the wall all season long...The only difference tomorrow is that if you lose, your season is over."
Miami receiver Tony Martin contemplates intensity, flatness, and execution following a 23-18 loss to Buffalo on October 4, 1999 (AP):
"We need to pick up the intensity. We need to match the intensity of the defense. We came out flat and lacked a bounce in our step. I have no idea why we came out flat. There's no excuse. We just didn't execute."
Denver quarterback Brian Griese steps up and takes responsibility for the loss to Tampa Bay 13-10 on September 26, 1999 (Sports Ticker):
"They were really coming after us," Griese said. "That's when guys need to step up and make plays. We didn't get the job done and I take responsibility for what happened because we had opportunities to make plays. My job is to step up and make plays and I didn't do that today."
For NY Giant running back Gary Brown, 100 percent effort can't be faulted - or can it? A very paradoxical statement made after falling to the Cowboys on November 8, 1998 (Sports Ticker):
"You can't fault the effort. Everyone just needs to give 110 percent. We came out and played 100 percent. They just made the plays."
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