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The ‘Uniformication’ of college hoops

By now, I really thought it would wear on me in a good way. Instead, it’s worn me out.

Shorts that look like zubaz (circa 1991). Jerseys with sleeves, akin to pajama tops. Circus shorts in need of “The Big Top.”

College hoops has put the “mad” into March Madness alright. Uniform designers have gone mad and we’re hopping mad. And, yes, the collective “we” goes way beyond Paulie Pastel.

In fact, all the way to the top. In going thru his bracket with ESPN prior to the tourney, President Barack Obama cited the uniforms as a reason Notre Dame wouldn’t advance past the first weekend, saying “that neon glow wasn’t working for me.”

We’d love to say that college basketball looks great. But, we can be honest, right? Forgetting the blocking/charging debate for a moment, when it comes to the recent look of college hoops and Adidas reinventing the uniforms, basketball is trying way too hard. And it’s hard to watch — literally.

Here’s what basketball is not — it’s not football. It can’t pull off a multitude of multiple patterns and multi-layered color schemes — it’s like multiple personalities.

Who am I watching again? And who did this school used to be? Which personality are they today? Louisville? Are you sure? Can I see some identification?

Watching these Adidas teams reminds me of the guy far beyond the 18-34 age demo who’s spotted wearing skate gear T-shirts and flat-bill caps (What? How dare you stare straight at Paulie Mid-Life Crisis!?)

Just like “That Guy,” it’s time for basketball to look itself in the mirror. That is, if it can stand the sight.

Based on recent fashion trends, I know that I can’t. For instance, I grew up watching the Golden State Warriors. Recently, when they busted out their “Ode to the Banana Peel” uniform combo with Tour de France leader jersey tops, I threw up watching the Warriors.

We’ve all heard the saying — if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Well, the new uniforms are most definitely loud, no doubt. But it’s not the volume, it’s the message. It screams that college basketball is desperate. When uniforms inspire comparisons to Underoos with Fruit Stripes, then it’s painfully obvious that the sport is eager to sacrifice tradition in hopes of becoming part of an imagined in-crowd. Or worse, to create an additional revenue stream.

In an interview with AP, Jeff Halmos, part of the menswear designer duo Shipley & Halmos, termed the uniforms “ultra-forward.” Yet, don’t call it a compliment.

“I was so shocked at UCLA. If I was part of a storied franchise like that, I’d say, ‘Absolutely not.’ I would tell my team that it’s an honor to wear this traditional jersey, and I wouldn’t cheapen it,” he said. “There’s a threshold to which innovation crosses a boundary. The ‘throwback era’ — when classic uniforms had a mainstream moment a few years ago — that was so much better. To me, there’s so much in menswear that’s about heritage.”

For years, we’ve been calling it the “Uniformication” of college sports. Essentially, it comes down to whether your school has a rich history that fans would miss.

Boise State rebranding — good. I mean, what sort of heritage does Spud State really evoke, right? Feel free to experiment with new uniforms every single game for all anyone cares.

But a Michigan-Ohio State game where you can’t recognize either team — not good.

And now, we see that college hoops has something up its sleeve alright. Both of ‘em.