In addition to staging their season openers in front of crowds of military personnel on Naval ships, air bases or decommissioned aircraft carriers, eight of college basketball's top programs will add one more patriotic touch.
Photos via Alligator Army and Land-Grant Holy LandUConn and Michigan State will don camouflage jerseys when they face one another Friday in a hangar at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Later that day, Syracuse and San Diego State will wear similar jerseys for their matchup on the USS Midway in San Diego, as will Florida and Georgetown for their game on the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, and Marquette and Ohio State for their game aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston.
The uniforms, each designed by Nike, are camouflage in every aspect, from the shorts and tops, to the socks, to the shoelaces. Nonetheless, Nike managed to keep the feel of each program's classic jersey by maintaining its traditional color scheme and lettering.
"Nike outdid themselves," coach Tom Izzo said in a video released by Michigan State over the weekend. "It's an unbelievable job. ... I think our players appreciated it."
The idea for staging a game on the deck of a ship was the brainchild of Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis. The Spartans met North Carolina last year in front of a crowd of sponsors, high-ranking boosters and military personnel on the USS Carl Vinson, the ship the body of Osama bin Laden was brought to in order to be buried in the North Arabian sea.
In that game, North Carolina wore Tar Heel blue camouflage jerseys with USA on the back and Michigan State donned gray camouflage jerseys with similar details. Apparently the feedback was positive enough for Nike to do it again.
My one complaint this season is the UConn and Michigan State jerseys both have so much gray camouflage in them that they may be hard to tell apart. A Michigan State spokesman assured me the Spartans' jerseys will look more green in person and on TV on Friday. Regardless, the idea is honoring the military, so as long as teams aren't passing to members of the opposition, the jerseys will be a success.
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