Feb 12, 2015
By Donnovan Bennett – Sportsnet TV Personality
Follow Donnovan on Twitter: @donnovanbennett
In basketball, freedom of expression is linked to execution, and style is as paramount as substance. As basketball is undergoing a rebirth in our country, so is the CIS uniform with many progressive looks hitting university campuses this year. Major outfitters like Adidas, who produces and manufactures all of their CIS apparel in Canada, a rarity in 2015, are seeing their investment in amateur sport pay off. Many of the schools have taken advantage of their new ability to customize unis, adding a personal touch. I’d love to see the famed t-shirt jersey style that is widely seen in the NCAA and talked about often at the NBA level grace a CIS court in the next few years. As the level of talent rises exponentially in Canada, so have its uniforms.
The top 10 CIS men’s basketball looks of 2015 are yours to discuss, debate and dissect.
HONOURABLE MENTION – McMASTER
Of the schools with the Jordan Jumpman logo, the Marauders narrowly beat out the Calgary Dinos for best jersey provided by the best basketball player of all-time. The switch from Under Armour to Jordan has worked well for MAC. The block colours on the side is a design Marquette made famous in the 80’s and has constantly been part of their uniforms ever since. It’s no coincidence that two historically scrappy and defensive minded programs wear similar threads.
10. QUEEN’S GAELS
The tricolour have stuck to mainly two colours for their basketball outfits. The yellow and blue versions of their uniforms are pretty interchangeable as they wear them judiciously on the home and the road. Their short and long sleeved yellow and white shooting shirts are the envy of their competitors, and are a better indicator if they are in Kingston or away from home. The Gaels are wearing a design inspired by the adidas Crazy Quick, which is well known thanks largely to the Michigan Wolverines. The school added its points of differentiation with some custom design. It is completed with a knit flat v –neck with hemmed armholes. The body of the jersey is constructed with climalite technologies. The iconic “Q” logo is found at the top of the back of the jersey. The detailing on the shoulders and sides of the shorts really gives the uniform a subtle futuristic look without being an eye sore. The different colour trim around the shorts helps class the uniform, up giving it a state of the art feel that matches the ARC where they play their games.
9. OTTAWA GEE-GEES
Ottawa is really playing up the garnet and grey that gives them their namesake. Their home uniforms this year are light grey with maroon piping. They stand out even more when wearing the grey base layer underneath to match. Away from Montpetit, they don maroon with grey piping. The Gee-Gees school-inspired design is one of the few CIS jerseys with a wider cut at the top that actually covers the entire trapazoid from neck to shoulder giving it a true, old school collegiate feel. It is completed with a knit flat v –neck with hemmed armholes. The body of the jersey is constructed with climalite technologies. Although the design isn’t extravagant, notice that Ottawa has used every region of the jersey for signage. The name plate rests high and the numbers are big and in block lettering; the easier to see on TV the better. The upper right pectoral of the shirt and bottom right knee of the shorts show love to the supplier. The left knee is the home of the team shield. The top section of the back of the jersey has both the Gee-Gees logo and 3 stripes in alternating colours. Why is the top right breast plate of the front of the jersey not filled you ask? Probably the space for a CIS Final 8 logo once they qualify for nationals. Even in the pre-season uniform design phase, the design was always set for these uniforms to look good on TV deep into March.
UQAM is wearing a jersey with a custom design inspired by the school. It has a knit neck trim with a front and back guesset, along with a full back mesh panel. The body of the jersey has climacool technology. The Carolina blue on royal blue colour way is a staple for all basketball fans. Designing the blocks of colour horizontally rather than vertically helps elongate the look of the players even more. The numbers on the side of the shorts that we rarely see anymore is a nice touch, maximizing fabric real-estate. Another thing we love about the UQAM outfit is that it almost matches the ladies’ jerseys to a tee, giving the athletics program a true “uniform” look.
Not often is the best part of a jersey the neckline. That is the case for the Waterloo Warriors. They put their neck on the line with their elongated, two colourway neck line and they pulled it off. It’s the first thing that your eyes are drawn to when the Warriors suit up. The second is the brand friendly detailing on the hip and rib cage of both the pants and jerseys. The Warriors have always had uniforms that superceded their on-court success, but for a rebuilding program their current uniform is just as inspiring as Coach Francis’ pre-game speeches.
6. CAPE BRETONCAPERS
Cape Breton is another school that benefits from the less is more mantra when it comes to jersey design, especially when you have great colours to lean on as they do. The cremesicle orange really pops off of the white canvas that is their home jersey. That colour is enhanced as the orange piping not only goes down the sides of the uniform, it comes across behind the shoulders and at the bottom of the shorts across the hamstring. Their shorts alone are retail worthy and something you’d be apt to wear both socially and recreationally. The Capers are wearing a designed inspired by the adidas Crazy Quick and is a school custom design. It is completed with a knit v-neck and knit armhole trim to give a classic clean look. The body of the jersey has climatlite technologies. The backplate features a team logo instead of a name and they have traded the previous CBU moniker for fully spelt names with one of the most modern fonts in the CIS. As nice as their men’s uniforms are, their women’s jerseys are even more impressive as they fully support the breast cancer awareness movement with pink and white uniforms leaving no doubt about the cause of their conviction.
The new Nike Con U jerseys have gotten lots of love on Twitter. Similar in both colour and style to the uniforms USC and Minnesota have typically worn, the Stingers made some decisions with contrasting colour piping around the shorts and shoulders that make this look unique. Concordia has a logo both on the back of the jersey and the thigh of the shorts, something unique for men’s jerseys. A different swatch of colour in the middle of the waistband helps break the jersey up a bit.
4. WESTERN MUSTANGS
The Mustangs’ dual piping along the side of the jersey is a great touch and one of the few looks that translates well on both spectators and players. The constant is the skinny silver piping down the side of the uniform which is surrounded by a purple or white thicker vertical embellishment depending on which version of the jersey it is. Both uniforms use silver as the secondary trim colour to make the white and purple pop. A nice change would be to adopt the Western women’s jersey strategy and use silver for the lettering and numbering exclusively. The two-tone colour on the thick neck gives the Mustangs a bold, distinguished look. Looking for the block W and Mustang? It’s found exclusively on the shorts and not the jersey top. In an era when logos have become more in your face, a more understated approach to branding is appreciated.
3. SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES
The Saskatchewan Huskies are also wearing a custom design, inspired by the school. Black is back and the Huskies manage to balance an old school style with a new school colour. U of S has great black uniforms that contrast well with their green and white palette but their simple design keeps them in line with the culture of their program. The jersey has a classic look for a school that embodies great basketball tradition. Ironically, Canada’s Huskies have side detail and design from yester year that NCAA power houses like the UConn Huskies made famous in the 90‘s. It has a knit V–neck with knit armhole trim to give a nice, clean, finished look. The knit V-neck leaves room for the Huskies logo to be shown off front and center. The body of the jersey has climatlite technologies that create light, breathable fabrics that are worn close to the skin, in order to conduct heat and keep sweat away from the body. Technologically up to date with nouveau colours but a tempered style gives Sask a timeless look.
2. GUELPH GRYPHONS
The Gryphons football team is known for being innovators when it comes to athletic apparel. Their basketball program has taken notice and followed suit. You can already see the benefits of their school-wide move from long time supplier Russell to Adidas a year ago. The men’s basketball team is wearing a design inspired by the Adidas impact camo design. It is most widely known as the design worn currently by the Cincinnati Bearcats in the NCAA, and was brought to prominence when Louisville wore them in their NCAA tournament championship run in 2013. It’s constructed with a knit Y – Neck with hemmed armholes to give a nice finish. The fabric has a waffle knit pattern which is the type of detail that is esthetically pleasing when watching the Gryphons up close, even though you might not appreciate watching on a web stream or on TV.
1. ACADIA AXEMEN
The addition of grey gives Acadia the gold medal when it comes to uniforms. Though it’s not one of the school’s primary colours, the slate grey makes them stand out from the rest. They are one of the many schools working hand to hand with Adidas to come up with a custom design. Their jersey has a knit neck trim with a front and back guesset, along with a full back mesh panel. The body of the jersey has a “formotion” fit that follows the natural movements of basketball player. It also boasts climacool technology. For Acadia the devil is in the details. Notice that there is no name plate on the backs of their uniforms – just the traditional school logo signifying that the institution is greater than the individual. Their road red uniforms are unique in that they have red lettering on top of a red jersey with grey outlines, making the numbers and team name plates legible. Admittedly it’s not ideal for broadcasters but it’s beautiful for basketball fashionistas and very on trend. From the blue and grey socks with the grey jersey to the white and red socks with the red uniform, Acadia is stylish from head-to-toe and is head and shoulders above the sartorial competition.
Follow Donnovan on Twitter: @donnovanbennett