They're the most unimportant part of a basketball game, but they're omnipresent. (No, they aren't 3-pointers, shut up Gregg Popovich.) They actually have nothing to do with the game of basketball itself, at all.
They are the topic of sports bar debates, message boards and television shows. They evolve with the game; Different styles are connected with different eras. Having a great uniform is important, it becomes your team's image when the names fade and all that's left are the highlights.
How has UConn done in uniform design? Let's take a look from the modern Calhoun/Ollie era (1986-2015). The uniforms were ranked using these categories:
1) Aesthetics – Kind of the most important part of the uniform.
2) Design – What makes the uniform unique?
3) Performance – How good was the team in these uniforms?
4) Longevity* – How long were these worn?
*Alternate uniforms excluded
NOTE: Home and away jerseys are grouped together. Some uniforms will be grouped into one era, due to only minor changes or variations in the uniform (eg. 1996-2004).
10. 2015 Gray Alternates
These were a disaster from the beginning. The gray is way too harsh and dark, a steep variation from the lighter and more silvery gray alternatives UConn from 2011-2014. The Huskies also lost to Yale in these uniforms, so I still hold this sentiment from my tweet back in December.
Things to burn: Gray uniforms Corner of the court at Gampel Three point lines— Biased UConn Fan (@BiasedUConn) December 6, 2014
9. 2012 Nike Alternates
I don't know what to say about these, except they were weird and unnecessary. I'll start with the orange outline and socks, which is just a bizarre, strange, not-a-UConn color. The gray color of the uniforms had this weird greenish tint that just clashed with the orange. They were only worn for a single game in the dreadful season of 2012, a game in which they lost to Notre Dame at the XL Center. We should never wear this again and forget they ever happened.
These uniforms came into existence in 2007, a year which is one of the worst in UConn basketball history under Jim Calhoun. So they got off to a bad start. Moving to the actual uniform, the names on the back were way too small, and couldn't be read easily on TV, let alone anywhere in the arena. There was very little design to the uniforms, except for the piping that traveled from the chest down the sides. Another major flaw with this set is the overuse of the gray alternate. These were worn almost as much, maybe even more than the whites. The color was never right, and from afar they looked like they were off-white. While the uniforms were ugly, this age in UConn was a forgettable one. Yes, they made the Final Four, no small feat, but these teams had more than their fair share of scandals. Whether it be stealing laptops, Nate Miles or low APR scores, there are very few good Husky memories in this period.
7. 2005-2006 Alternates
If you ever see Rudy Gay's UConn highlights, there's a good chance you saw him in these uniforms. These alternates were player-chosen, and were throwbacks to the early 90's. It is also the only uniform since the early 90's to not have any red in it. These uniforms are very much neutral. Not ugly, but not a good looking uniform. They're just kind of boring and unspectacular. But they get bonus points for use of "Connecticut" across the front instead of "UConn."
These uniforms were aesthetically pleasing, along with being very 1990ish. The red trim is used very effectively throughout to enhance the letters and side stripe. I don't think anyone would make a huge fuss if they were brought back today. They fall in the rankings due to only lasting four seasons, along with being lost between the Dream Season and the first championship, and having no real defining moments.
After winning the 2014 National Championship (fun fact: so did the women), the Huskies decided to switch up their uniforms despite only one year with their uniforms after the brand change. The change was magnificent. UConn brought back the design that was used from 1995 to 2007, with a few changes to modernize it. The lack of "Connecticut" across the chest on either uniform drops it a little on this list, but they are mainly at this position because they have only been worn for one forgettable season. They are stylish and look good, but they need to start winning to boost this position.
These uniforms were donned by the first Huskies to play under Jim Calhoun. They ushered in a new era of UConn basketball, one that brought the tiny agricultural school from Storrs to the national spotlight. They were also the last Huskies uniforms to feature short shorts. There is nothing spectacular about the design, but none of the uniforms at that time were. Red was featured more prominently than dark blue, and there's no color outside the sleeves and bottom of the shorts. But Tate George hit "The Shot" in this uniform, so it's pretty great.
Home Away Alternate
These uniforms had some minor features changed while staying relatively the same. 2011 saw the introduction of Nike's mesh designs on the back, one of the nicest features in all of sporting wear. This period is the only time Nike managed to get the perfect gray/silver mix for the alternatives. Where these uniforms get most of their points is the success in these uniforms. Arguably the two greatest point guards and players in UConn history, Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier, played in these uniforms, and both won National Championships. These uniforms were also worn by the only three players to win two national championships at UConn: Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey and Tyler Olander. These uniforms had nothing special, but they just looked good. What an era it was.
2. 2012 Armed Forces Classic
At this point, you probably think I'm just a full-on hater of alternate uniforms, but that's not true. I love a good alternative (or special occasion) uniform, if done right. And, boy, were these uniforms done right. Normally camo uniforms are overdone and straight up ugly, but Nike picked great colors for the Huskies (Michigan States' were hideous), and the camo is subtle enough to be noticeable but not be visually dominant. UConn upset the Michigan State Spartans in Kevin Ollie's debut to win the Armed Forces Classic. I think they should wear these every year for one game around Veterans Day.
Side note: This game was played in Germany. I believe the team needs more Germans again.
These uniforms were the undisputed uniform champs of UConn basketball. In the 90's, these uniforms saw a few color changes, but from 1997-2007, these uniforms were unchanged. There is greatness in every single category for these unis.
- Aesthetics – They are things of beauty. If the Greek Gods played a game of basketball, they would wear these uniforms.
- Design – Extreme total bonus points for use of "Connecticut" on the road jerseys as well as the use of red on both. The block design on the side is classic. There is no flaw here.
- Success – Two national championships. One of the greatest game winners in UConn history. Ray Allen. Emeka Okafor. Ben Gordon. Rudy Gay. KHALID EL-AMIN. Need I continue? I think not.
- Longevity – They survived for 11 years, only being slightly interrupted for a few games in 2006 for an alternate jersey. Any uniform that can survive for 11 years without criticism is a great uniform.
These uniforms are easily the greatest uniforms in UConn history, going all the way back to 1881. No others will come close to them, not even camo alternates or modern redesigns. They were perfect, and will forever be remembered with the golden age of UConn basketball.
What is your favorite UConn uniform? Leave a comment or tweet @BiasedUConn to join the discussion!