UVA's New Look
December 2, 2008 | Kevin Zdancewicz


Some teams hold press conferences to announce that they will be introducing new uniforms. Many have extravagant unveilings complete with players modeling the new look. Not at UVA. The University appears content to keep new uniforms (in any sport) under wraps until they actually hit the field or court. And that’s fine. Refreshing even. It’s getting a little old with programs trotting out new jerseys every year and the increasing commercialization at the foundation of the whole process rather than the actual design of the uniforms.

That said, Virginia’s lack of fanfare when it comes to uniform changes means many fans that have yet to see the Hoos take the court this year are unaware of the men’s basketball team’s new set (featured above). But have no fear because I got your back. I was able to ask some questions of Matt Althoff, the Hoos’ director of equipment room operations, who provided a behind-the-scenes look into what goes into a uniform change. It turns out UVA was looking to switch to lighter-weight jersey material and at the suggestion of Nike, determined that it would be “a good time to look at new designs.” Coach Leitao, the athletic department, and the equipment room reviewed concepts designed by Nike to make sure they followed UVA guidelines and with a few suggestions from Coach Leitao the final product is what you see. 

The new uniforms are Nike’s System of Dress style which I have mentioned in this column before and is taking over the majority of college basketball programs. As a refresher, the System of Dress style features tight, simple jerseys and ridiculously baggy shorts with unique logo and striping designs. The Cavaliers’ new look fits the bill, with a minimalist jersey top that takes a page out of the women’s basketball book with the color-contrasting name and number. The shorts’ design looks good isolated at the bottom, but extends too high up and a little too much on the backside of the uniform for my liking. The road jerseys will feature the same style as the home whites: the Hoos debuted their navy uniforms (which I like a little better than the home whites) just this past Friday and will also have an orange set as in prior years.

Overall, I don’t mind the change and like the look more than the previous set, which was trying a little too hard to be traditional without the endearing retro qualities of something like this. If they shortened the orange shorts stripe (say that five times fast!) or at least made it run more up and down the side, I would be more excited about the look – but I also want to reserve some judgment until I see them live on the court.

What’s that? You want to know what my favorite UVA basketball uniform looked like? Well, I’m glad you asked. I am a huge fan of the uni set that Virginia wore during my first year, the 2004-2005 season. These might also be recognizable because they are still sold in fine apparel shops throughout Charlottesville. Anyways, in my opinion, they strike a perfect balance of being flashy without going crazy – a concept that tends to be easier said than done. So often teams either stick with something plain or throw out something ridiculous. Finding that happy medium should be the goal. Now that I think about it, the new uniforms do a decent job of just that. I’m starting to like them more already…

Photo: Jason O. Watson – Check out his photo galleries here.
Special thanks to Rich Murray for coordinating my interview with Matt Althoff.

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