For Thursday’s game against UCLA, the Wildcats will unveil their new Nike Elite uniforms.
The major program that it is, Arizona has long partnered with Nike to co-promote both brands and it has been a successful relationship. According to a CNN Money report from March 2010, the U of A is the fourth most profitable college basketball program in America.
The game will be broadcast on the worldwide leader and Nike, of course, choreographed this unveiling for marketing purposes. At the end of the day, it’s all a business and the Swoosh on Arizona garb on ESPN is a win for everyone.
So the Wildcats will put on their new digs that tout the latest performance enhancing material, a sleek new fit, and an exciting redesign. No doubt they’ll look good for the big, national stage.
But as the players slip into their new jerseys and shorts, giddy like kids on Christmas day, Arizona will be shedding the bitterness of the O’Neil year, the awkwardness of the Pennell season, and the sadness of the Olson farewell.
They’ll be donning new apparel that both literally and metaphorically blends past and present. Down the side of the shorts it will read “CATS” just as it did when Miles Simon torched Carolina and Kentucky. Smack dab in the middle of the back is a Saguaro cactus, just the way Lute built it in 1984.
Momo Jones downplayed the switch
“They’re just jerseys,” Jones said. “We’re lucky to have uniforms where I come from. I’ll play in a t-shirt.”
When asked about Momo’s lack of interest, Horne had a different take.
“He’s lying,” said Horne. “I’m excited to put those bad boys on. We’ve been waiting for new jerseys for some time.
“To be honest with you I’d rather wear the ones they wore before I got here, the original Cats jerseys, but Nike was gracious enough to send us some new ones.”
It’s beyond well documented and it has become an almost incessant drone around this program, seemingly inescapable, what Arizona once was. And we all know what it was: conference titles, Final Fours, lottery picks, high seeds, The Streak, and ’97. Arizona wasn’t just good, it was damn good.
Thursday night we can officially say, “Thanks for that, here’s to what’s to come.”
The new uniforms are a hint of nostalgia, reminding us how Arizona became Arizona. And now it’s time to embrace what is here; what is now. Olson built something and now Miller is doing the same. Last Saturday we got a great glimpse of what Sean Miller is building – and I don’t mean a team that shoots 36% from the field or 63% from the foul stripe. Sean Miller is building toughness and a breed of athlete that refuses to lose.
When faced with a win-or-lose situation, there is one thing that you can definitively control: effort. That’s what we saw and that’s what we can expect. Shooting at that clip, Arizona had no business beating a very good Cougar team, a team many see as an NCAA tournament team.
They held Klay Thompson, the conference’s leading scorer and nation’s ninth leading scorer, to just nine points; his lowest output since February 27 of last year. And in that close of a game, it was going to boil down to who wanted it more. Sean Miller wants it more and his team is beginning to as well.
We remember Kerr in high-waters, Damon in red, and storming through Indianapolis in navy. They may just be tanks and shorts but it represents a whole lot more.
It begs the question: what great moment will these jerseys bring?