Men’s Basketball: Wildcats continue tradition of player-designed jerseys for Saturday’s Senior Day


Ella Brockway/Daily Senior Staffer

This year’s “By the Players” uniforms. For the second year in a row, NU’s seniors designed custom Under Armour uniforms for Senior Day.

Ella Brockway, Copy Chief

Exactly two weeks after the ’90s Night theme against Wisconsin, Northwestern is turning back the clock again.

The Wildcats (13-17, 4-15 Big Ten) will debut a new set of ’90s-inspired uniforms custom-designed by the team’s seniors for their final home game of the season against No. 11 Purdue (22-8, 15-4) on Saturday, continuing a practice of seniors designing their own Senior Day uniforms that began last season.

The uniforms draw inspiration from those of the Vancouver Grizzlies, an NBA expansion team that rocked some of the most iconic uniforms in the league from 1995 to 2001 before its move to Memphis. The Grizzlies’ bright teal uniforms were featured on Sports Illustrated’s list of the 30 greatest jerseys in the league’s history, and embodied the style and flair of the ’90s-era NBA.

Pictures and video of this year’s set were released on social media on Thursday and garnered more than 2,700 likes on one post from NU alum and sports business analyst Darren Rovell (Communication ’00).

Senior forward Vic Law wasn’t even born yet when those Grizzlies uniforms debuted in November 1995, but he said he remembered admiring them and similar designs while growing up playing video games like NBA Jam.

“That new logo, the jerseys themselves are fantastic,” he said. “Tomorrow, I can’t wait to play in them. Just another perk of being a senior on Senior Night.”

NU’s history of wearing custom-designed jerseys began during coach Chris Collins’ first season in Evanston, assistant equipment manager John Lovellette told The Daily. In January 2014, the Cats designed a custom Under Armour uniform as a whole group and debuted the getups in an upset win over Illinois.

The “By the Players” design concept was resurrected last season, when the program decided to allow the senior class (as opposed to the entire team) to design a custom uniform after the three upperclassmen — Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly — had to spend their final season playing away from home at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. With the continuation this year, a new NU tradition was born.

“It just shows that we care about what our athletes think and what they want, where most programs might just give the athletes the uniforms, the gear and say ‘Here, this is what you’re wearing,’” Lovellette said.

These uniforms are the end product of a process that began in September, when the Cats’ seniors — Law, center Dererk Pardon, forward Charlie Hall, and guards Ryan Taylor and Jordan Ash — met with a design team from Under Armour, Lovellette said. In addition to the general ’90s-era style, they also pushed to include smaller details in the design, Pardon said, like having the program motto “Pound the Rock” in the uniform’s trim, and including each player’s last name on the back of the shooting shirt.

“That’s something we’re really big on, (being) a team, a family,” Pardon said, “so that’s something that we tried to incorporate.”

It’ll take more than a stylish uniform for the Cats, who still sit at the very bottom of the Big Ten even after Wednesday’s win over Ohio State, to upset the Boilermakers, who would clinch a share of the conference regular season title with a win. But for Collins — who was a senior guard at Duke when the original Grizzlies jersey design came out in 1995 — the process is about more than just the uniforms.

It’s an opportunity to continue to build and create traditions and legacies for a program that for a long time — college basketball analyst Tim Doyle, who played at NU from 2004 to 2007, quoted Rovell’s tweet with a memory of his own music-less, announcer-less Senior Night — struggled to do much of either, and Collins has hope that this can become a long-standing tradition at NU.

“We came up with the idea, and then we created a monster, ’cause once the underclassmen saw that the seniors got to create one, they said, ‘We’re going to do something better next year,’” Collins said. “I think it’s something that’s unique to our program, and something the senior class, they really enjoy putting together.”

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