College Basketball Tribute Uniform Ideas
UCLA: John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”
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NC State’s chill-inducing Jimmy V Classic uniforms — featuring a superimposed net around the neck and the phrase “Don’t Ever Give Up” on the nameplate — got us thinking about other programs’ uniforms that could pay tribute to legendary coaches…
The idea of UCLA saluting John Wooden by weaving in his “Pyramid of Success” is a definite must. The legendary coach’s “building blocks for winning at basketball and life” would be a helpful reminder to a program that’s currently on the brink.
Nike and Jordan Brand have introduced subtle, water-mark like designs into the back of their jerseys in recent years. If UCLA uniform provider adidas can do the same with Wooden’s Pyramid, it would look very sharp without cluttering things up.
Georgetown: John Thompson's Towel
The Hoyas are already paying tribute to their legendary former coach (and the father of their current one) with their new uniforms for the 2012-2013 season that also includes the Kente cloth of the 1990s. So why not go a step farther and include the white towel that was such a big part of his image?
It would be easy to emboss the towel on one side of the jersey, draped over the shoulder. Think of it as a cooler version of what the Oklahoma City Thunder recently tried with their throwback look.
Granted, if G’town wanted to keep the towel white, this would only work for its navy blue uniforms. But it would still be a nice nod to the man who gave the program life - not to mention the man responsible for the coach currently leading the Hoyas.
Indiana: Bob Knight’s Sweater
No wonder Bobby Knight often seemed irritable and out of control at Indiana. If you were wearing a sweater and working up a lather while intensely coaching game after game, you’d be cranky, too.
While the relationship between IU and its former coach remains acrimonious, there’s no denying that his 662 wins and three national titles with the Hoosiers are tribute-worthy. To pull off the “sweater look,” the color gradient of the away uniforms could be made to look like wool, and a white collar could be superimposed around the neck. (a similar design to Rutgers’ new football uniforms).
Of course, if Indiana’s administration had a sense of humor, they could always simply superimpose a picture of a flying chair on the back of the Hoosiers’ jerseys.
Temple: John Chaney’s Tie
We’re sure that John Chaney arrived at every one of his games dressed professionally. But once play started, he loosened the top button of his shirt and his tie as if he had just gotten off of a long day trying to sell insurance.
Bringing back memories of that disheveled look would allow Owls fans to reminisce about the often hellish match-up zone defense that opponents had to go up against as well as the workmanlike manner in which Temple won year after year. (Chaney had just two losing seasons during his time in Philly.)
The Owls could even have two versions of this alternate jersey with a superimposed tie: One with a superimposed black sweater vest and one without.
West Virginia: Bob Huggins’ Track Suit
Besides that one time that Huggins dressed up to resemble a bottle of Dijon mustard, when was the last time you remember seeing him wear anything other than a track suit?
It’s such a big part of his image at this point that, let’s face it, you wouldn’t be surprised to see him buried in one. What West Virginia could do is either A) Make uniforms out of the same material as a tracksuit; or B) Wear full-body tracksuits for a whole game (if it’s allowed by the NCAA).
If it’s good enough for Huggins at his first Big 12 Media Day, it should be good enough for his players on gameday.
Louisville: Denny Crum's Red Jacket
Cardinals fans without a sense of history would assume that Rick Pitino’s white suit would be the easy choice here. They shouldn’t forget that before Pitino arrived at Louisville, Denny Crum was at the helm for 30 years — and had a unique look of his own.
While leading the Cardinals to 675 wins and two NCAA championships, Crum was sometimes seen sporting a bright red blazer worn over a white, buttoned-down shirt. It was bold and loud, quite the opposite of his taciturn sideline personality that gave birth to his “Cool Hand Luke” nickname.
Louisville could design away uniforms that have a strip of white going down the middle and a superimposed red-and-black, checkerboard tie. It would be a unique and innovative look in tribute of a coach who could be described with both those adjectives.
Mount Saint Mary’s: Jim Phelan’s Bow Tie
The bowtie of the former longtime (1954–2003) Mount Saint Mary’s coach was so iconic that in Phelan’s Wikipedia page, mention of it is listed before his 830 career wins.
Seeing as the court at MSM’s Knott Arena is already adorned with bowties painted on to either end of the parquet in Phelan’s honor, convincing the Mountaineers’ higher-ups to add superimposed bowties below the neckline of the team’s uniforms shouldn’t be a problem.
This would be perfect for the 2013–2014 season, since it would mark 10 years since Phelan retired.
Notre Dame: Digger Phelps’ Highlighter
Yes, we know that Digger’s habit of pairing his ties with a similarly-colored highlighter is a habit that he started with ESPN, not during his tenure as Notre Dame’s basketball coach.
But highlighter-colored Irish unis would make for a nice testament to the 20 years Phelps spent leading the Irish to unprecedented hardwood success as well as the fact that he still lives in South Bend.
The uniforms themselves could be a neon green hue similar to that of a standard highlighter, very similar to the “lime green” unis Phelps once tried as a coach. Add on a patch that says “DIGGER” with a highlighter pen running either above it or below it and the Irish would be set.
Syracuse: Jim Boeheim’s Plaid
Like anyone who has laid eyes on this photograph of the magnanimous Orange coach, we were a little horrified. But then ... we couldn’t look away.
First off, where Boeheim managed to find a plaid suit that mirrors Syracuse’s color scheme is beyond our comprehension. Was there a suit maker in upstate New York in the 1970s transfixed with the exploits of Boeheim’s basketball team?
And if that’s not enough, Boeheim’s tie is also primarily blue and orange. We’d love to see a piece of the ‘70s return with plaid alternate uniforms for the ‘Cuse, complete with a disco ball hanging from the scoreboard at midcourt.
North Carolina: Dean Smith’s Coaching Tree
The Tar Heels will always be Dean Smith’s program. To see how many former players defer to him like the benevolent matriarch that he is remains one of the more touching things to witness in major college basketball.
It is little wonder that so many former Tar Heels went into basketball leadership positions themselves since Smith was that influential in their personal development. A whole section of Smith’s Wikipedia page lists 20 former players who became either coaches or executives.
Jordan Brand, the Heels’ uniform provider, could easily superimpose the Dean Smith Coaching Tree on the back of the UNC uniforms with Smith at the top and various branches leading to the names of those he inspired.
UConn: Jim Calhoun’s Foibles
The same acerbic, Boston-bred personality that frequently had Calhoun in the running as one of college basketball’s most hated coaches was also the source of his (and UConn’s) success.
We can think of two ways to acknowledge Calhoun’s roots and his legacy simultaneously. One would be to change the spelling of the school on the jerseys so it would be the phonetic, Beantown pronunciation (“Yu-cahn!”).
The second would be to have “Get Some Facts!” as the nameplate on each jersey. A fun little reminder of Calhoun’s blowup at a trolling reporter criticizing him for his salary.
Kentucky: Old-School Team Jacket
This spring will mark 55 years since the Wildcats won the last of their four titles under legendary coach Adolph Rupp. How cool would it be to see the team wearing jerseys made to replicate the old-timey jackets given to the UK players to salute that title and the previous three won under Rupp?
Pair these with the belts and old-school unis worn by the “Fiddlin’ Five” and UK has the makings of a great retro night.
Duke: Stars and Stripes
Should the Blue Devils ever be selected to play in a Veterans Day tip-off game, Stars-and-Stripes inspired uniforms would be fitting in light of their iconic coach having played and coached for Army and coached Team USA to consecutive Olympic gold medals.
And since Duke already has one of the primary colors in the stars-and-stripes scheme, it would be easy to transform its uniforms into something patriotic looking. If Southern Miss can do it with black football helmets, the Blue Devils can do it with their blue uniforms by turning the background into horizontal blue and white stripes and having the word “Duke” covered in red stars.