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Evansville: Sleeves vs. Tanks

September 30, 2002 Columns No Comments

Is This Something from a Mock-umentary?

by Jason Drucker

It began, apparently, in the 1947-48 season when Basketball Hall of Fame coach Arad McCutchan decided that his Evansville players would be more comfortable in t-shirts. In a 1964 interview, he explained, “I use the T-shirt style of uniform because I feel that is what most players wear in practice, and, therefore, what they are most comfortable in. It’s also more flattering to the thin ballplayer.”

McCutchan’s teams sported these t-shirts throughout his 31-year career, but with the end of his reign came the end of the t-shirts. The team went back to the traditional sleeveless look in 1977, when the great coach retired. This look lasted until 1986 when coach Jim Crews, in his second year of coaching, decided that sleeves should again be sported, but this time in honor of his great predecessor, you guessed it, McCutchan.

When Crews left and Merfeld entered, the new coach decided on a far more democratic approach. He polled his players as well as the surrounding community, and found that people preferred the sleeveless look on the court. “Although the style of uniform has changed, it still says Evansville across the chest, and we will continue to represent our university and community with great honor, dignity and respect,” said Merfeld.

What I would like to know, as an observer of this situation from afar, is: who cares? For a team who has played during March Madness numerous times, this seems to be a bit of an embarrassment. Apparently, because it still says Evansville on the uniforms, the Purple Aces (although I do love the nickname) will continue to represent the community with “great honor, dignity and respect.” I’m not sure about those first two, maybe this sort of thing helps to life the morale of a town and the self-confidence of its players.

However, I can safely say that in terms of respect, this team won’t receive any after the “report” of this change was filed. When I originally came across this article, I just started to laugh. Why would anyone outside of the locker room even have a remote care if these players have sleeves on their shirts or not? As for the writers who reported on the change originally, how little must have been going on around the college basketball world for this to become a topic of interest? Was it a slow news day? Is it to honor the oft-sleeved and recently retired Patrick Ewing? Is the university using this as a smokescreen to hide actual news regarding this season’s squad?

I guess the last question should be, if it’s so ridiculous, why is this writer reporting? That answer, thankfully, is an easy one. I have no talent, let my girlfriend run my life. And it was a slow news day. What are their excuses?


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