CINCINNATI – College basketball’s tournament time is taking on a new look this year, with lots of double-takes expected.
Six teams will wear special uniforms for their conference and anticipated NCAA tournament appearances next month, setting a fashion trend in college basketball: camouflage-patterned shorts, bright-colored jerseys and sleeves.
Yep. Sleeves on jerseys, including those worn by tradition-rich UCLA, giving March’s rich history a decidedly unconventional look. Six teams will wear special tournament uniforms unveiled on Thursday by Adidas – UCLA, Louisville, Baylor, Kansas, Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
“I’m sure the traditionalists out there are really, really struggling looking at those uniforms,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said on Thursday.
Especially those worn by UCLA, Louisville and Baylor, which agreed to have short sleeves on their jerseys. Adidas debuted a short-sleeve basketball shirt with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in mid-February.
The new look will be especially head-turning for teams that usually wear tradition on their chests.
“Everyone here knows Kansas’ tradition and history should be what is promoted in our look, and we have done that for years,” coach Bill Self said. “But this is the one game or whatever that we will make that exception for Adidas.
“I probably don’t think as much of them as I do the normal ones we wear, but for a game or two I don’t think it’s that big of a deal in the Big 12 tournament.”
Alternate uniforms have become big business in college sports, from Oregon’s fluorescent tones with Nike to Maryland’s loud designs with Under Armour. Adidas introduced special light-weight basketball uniforms for Cincinnati, Louisville and Baylor at tournament time last season.
Baylor and Louisville got the most attention with their bright colors.
Cincinnati’s were more subdued, with neon trim. Bearcats players quickly took a liking to them – Cincinnati reached the Big East tournament title game before losing to Louisville, then made the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament while wearing them.
“It’s like it refreshes you as a team,” point guard Cashmere Wright said before practice on Thursday. “You go out there and it’s a whole other uniform. You can take any identity you want to take. Last year, we got an identity and we just played it out.”