Orange Watch: It’s all ‘uniform’ except when it isn’t for Syracuse basketball

Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack
Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack looks to the Syracuse bench. Mandatory Photo Credit: Brad Bierman.

Item: Last weekend’s loss to Georgetown marked the debut of a second set of uniforms for Syracuse basketball this year. In addition to the 1990s throwback look with a 2019 twist that the football team sported for the first time this past season, the basketball team brought back fond memories of the glory Big East days and a near-miss of a national championship in 1987. In the first of two scheduled Dec. games, the Orange wore a very similar look to their 1983-1994 jerseys that featured the prominent “Syracuse” name in script font versus the Hoyas.

Led by John Wildhack and his creative staff, there is one area that the athletic department has made a concerted effort to keep Orange Nation happy; the designs of the game uniforms worn by the football and basketball teams.

Wildhack (Newhouse Class of 1980) has always been as big a fan of his alma mater as anyone, and his professional career at ESPN blossomed during the same period of time that both SU programs made their 1980s assents. He’s directed the projects that have brought that visual look back with modern contributions from within his department and apparel partner Nike.

When we briefly caught up with Wildhack, now in his fourth season, during pregame shooting practice prior to the Georgetown defeat, we complimented him on the throwback look, and the instant approval ratings on social media and elsewhere from a majority of Orange fans.

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“They do look pretty good, don’t they?” he proclaimed with a smile as he wondered over to talk with some of the FOX Sports network personnel broadcasting the game.

There’s only one problem, for the basketball team at least, when it breaks out one-off, alternate duds to the standard season ensemble; it results in a defeat.

The Georgetown loss was the fourth time SU has worn the script jerseys under Jim Boeheim, and the record is now 0-4:

  • Feb. 16, 2004-Notre Dame 82, Syracuse 72 (white script jerseys)
  • Feb. 19, 2014-Boston College 62, Syracuse 59 OT (orange script jerseys worn with blue shorts)
  • Dec. 17, 2017-Georgetown 78, Syracuse 71 (white script jerseys)
  • Dec. 14, 2019-Georgetown 89, Syracuse 79 (orange script jerseys)

It doesn’t get any better the two times the Orange decided to go blue under Boeheim:

  • Feb. 28, 1988-Kentucky 62, Syracuse 58 (blue script jerseys)
  • Feb. 24, 2008-Notre Dame 94, Syracuse 87 (blue jerseys similar to current style)

While it’s fun to mix-up the on-court look and provide more choices for fans to buy merchandise, especially with the Holiday Season upon us, it would also be fun to win a game wearing something different. The next opportunity is this Saturday night when North Florida (7-5) comes to town, and the ‘Cuse will model the white home script “Syracuse” jerseys for the first, and hopefully not the last time.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 640 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.