Item: Syracuse athletics announced late last month that a new on-campus college basketball attendance record will be set when projected overall No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed Duke (prior to Tuesday’s game at Louisville), heads into the Dome a week from Saturday (Feb. 23). The electric atmosphere on a college campus which will be created by the overflow crowd with obstructed views and the accompanying sea of orange, is unlike any other surrounding a sporting event, not only in central New York, but nationally. This year, Jim Boeheim, please sign off on wearing the current road uniforms on the court named after you. That will make the game a TRUE ‘Orange Out’ in every sense of the words.
When it comes to uniforms, SU’s longtime boss is Old School and has always wanted to keep it simple: White jerseys at home, orange jerseys on the road, higher seed wears white in post-season play.
It’s been that way since 1975-76, Boeheim’s last year as an assistant to Roy Danforth, with some 10 iterations of the Orange game uniform since then (not counting the occasional one-off Nike uniforms, an example of which Syracuse wore in its win over Boston College last Saturday – the alternate ‘CUSE white jersey instead of ORANGE across the front).
Twice in Boeheim’s 43 seasons he has acceded to Nike’s wishes for an alternate blue jersey (based part on contractual obligations). Ironically, the games occurred 20 years apart – 1988 and 2008 almost to the day. Syracuse wore blue and lost both times, at Kentucky, a Sunday afternoon national CBS-TV game (Feb. 28, 1988), and at Notre Dame also on a Sunday afternoon (Feb. 24, 2008), certainly furthering the coach’s distrust for change.
In Feb. 2014, with a 25-0 record and the No. 1 ranking hosting a 6-19 Boston College team, SU wore a hideous orange jersey/blue shorts combo replicating the uniform version worn from 1983-84 through 1993-94, the pants specific to the 1988 blue edition, and shockingly lost 62-59, with Boeheim practically coaching with clenched teeth over his team’s sartorial, or lack thereof, appearance.
For the Duke game, the Blue Devils will wear black or blue road uniforms making Syracuse in all-orange an easy contrast on the eyes for those competing and attending, with no worries for the orange-pink disaster to the eyes at Virginia Tech on Jan. 26.
And finally, this reminder to all of the decision makers at Manley and the Melo Center: There IS precedent to wearing a particular season’s orange road uniform on the Dome home court, and finishing victorious. On Dec. 4, 1990, Syracuse beat North Carolina State 86-79 wearing that season’s orange road uniforms at the Dome in the ACC-Big East Challenge, in which for the two years the event was contested, home teams were the road teams, and vice versa.