Northwestern wears player-designed basketball uniforms

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Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern’s new uniforms debuted Sunday in the Wildcats’ 49-43 over No. 23 Illinois. Players helped Under Armour design the new uniform.

Ally Mutnick, Campus Editor

Northwestern basketball fans who showed up to Sunday’s game against in-state rival Illinois were treated to both an upset win and the debut of player-designed uniforms.

The cartoon-covered shorts of the gray and purple uniforms depict slogans, pictures and interests of the men’s basketball team, said Nick Brilowski, an athletic department spokesman.

Official NU athletic outfitter Under Armour approached NU athletics with the idea of a special uniform. In May 2013, Under Armour staff met with coach Chris Collins and veteran players senior forward Drew Crawford, junior guards Dave Sobolewski and JerShon Cobb and sophomore guard Tre Demps.

“They basically had a meeting at center court in Welsh-Ryan Arena,” Brilowski said. “They polled the guys and said ‘Tell me about your program. What’s important for you?'”

The final design included images of the Chicago skyline, the John Hancock building, the phrase “Pound the Rock,” a reference to the team’s unofficial slogan, and the word “Friday,” a reference to one of the team’s favorite movies.

Brilowski said the athletics department decided to use the uniforms against Illinois because of the teams’ longstanding rivalry.

The uniforms spurred a mixed reaction from the sports community and NU students.

Wildside president Gram Bowsher said he thought students warmed up to the uniforms at the game — especially after NU’s 49-43 victory over No. 23 Illinois.

Bowsher said he had heard from students who found the uniforms strange. He also noted a particularly critical Deadspin story that called the uniforms “disastrous” and “plenty stupid.”

“They kind of put us on the chopping block there for a bit,” Bowsher said. “But in the end, people can talk about how much they hated the uniforms as much as they want, because we won the game.”

Brilowski said the athletic department would be open to using the uniforms again at another game but he was not sure when.

When asked at a postgame press conference if the uniforms would see another game, freshman forward Sanjay Lumpkin said the team had been thinking about it before Sunday’s Illini matchup.

“I was kind of joking around and I said, ‘I think we should wear them again,'” he said. “They said, ‘Just win and we’ll talk about it,’ so I hope we wear them again.”

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Twitter: @allymutnick