Nike Elite teams not exactly winning games

A 32-year-old Maryland fan standing outside of Comcast Center on Saturday night had one complaint about his Terrapins’ victory over Duke earlier that evening: The uniforms.

Travis Judd couldn’t stand the fact that Duke wore one-time only alternate uniforms in the game, saying it robbed Terps’ fans of having the full feel of beating the hated Blue Devils.

“Redskins fans would rather beat the Cowboys with them wearing the blue stars on their helmets, not some Navy blue helmet with white face masks with white jerseys and white pants. It just wouldn’t feel the same… Yeah, we beat Duke tonight, but it felt different because they didn’t look like Duke other than that (Mason) Plumlee and coach (Mike Krzyzewski) K.”

It is kind of funny how a Maryland fan could be so picky when his team was in desperate need of a win over a team such as Duke, but it actually speaks volumes about some teams wearing alternate uniforms. He said Maryland fans should be able to capture that night with photos and not have to “stop and explain what it was Duke was wearing years down the road.”

Duke’s regular uniforms are classics, and on the rare occasions the Blue Devils play true road games, one of the pleasures opposing fans get is to see that traditional and well-known uniform in person. There’s something unique and special about that “D U K E” jersey.

The same thing goes for North Carolina, which wore its Nike Elite uniforms in a loss at Miami a week earlier. At least in Carolina’s case they wore their classic light blue road uniforms, so opposing fans got an eye-full of that unmistakable Carolina Blue. But they still had to look at the interlocking “NC” on the chest, not the traditional and gorgeous “North” above the numbers and “Carolina” below them on the jerseys.

UNC and Duke are two of ten men’s teams that have worn the Nike Hyper Elite uniforms in the last month. Never mind that amateur athletes are essentially modeling a look just for the purpose of ringing cash registers, which is a different and more disturbing angle to this, but the uniforms are just plain ugly.

Anyone check out what Texas wore at Kansas on Saturday night? What about Gonzaga’s uniforms it wore at Butler a few weeks ago? What about Duke’s large “D” that just looked so out of place?

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, however, liked the look. But there’s also another reason to give them a run in a game.

“I think the uniforms looked good,” he said. “I wish we’d won in them.  I don’t think uniforms win a game, I do think that kids like different looks. They are always different materials and in the way people put out apparel and shoes nowadays you want to keep up with the very best things. Those uniforms are very light weight and good looking and may be something that we use in the future.”

Then why not wear the same materials but with the traditional look? That’s where this moves beyond just trying something out. But then again, that’s a different topic for another time.

Krzyzewski isn’t the only coach whose team wore the Hyper Elite unis and lost. Eight of the 10 clubs that wore them dropped their games. A few of them were completely destroyed.

Georgetown (over Cincinnati) and Southern Cal (over UCLA) are the only Nike Hyper Elite teams to win their games. And the losers: Maryland 82, Duke 81; Miami 87, UNC 61; Butler 64, Gonzaga 63; Indiana 75, Michigan State 70; Michigan 76, Ohio State 64; Kansas 73, Texas 47; Tennessee 88, UK 58; Notre Dame 65, Villanova 60.

Krzyzewksi is probably right, the uniforms had nothing to do with his team’s performance, but that’s not stopping UNC coach Roy Williams from offering a big, fat thumbs down when it comes to alternate looks from now on.

“Nike is a wonderful partner,” he said on his radio show last week. “Our athletic department would not be anywhere near as good as we are financially without them. I love them to death. I went with Nike in 1997.

“They can get me to wear a little beanie or whatever they want, but I am not frickin’ wearing any more new uniforms.”

There are a legion of Tar Heels fans out there glad to know he feels that way, and at some point host fans wanting to get a glimpse of the classic UNC look will be grateful as well.

In a non-curmudgeon way, that’s a good thing.