Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One More NU Football Jersey

In the last edition of our series on Northwestern’s jerseys (at least for now) we look at NU’s road football jerseys. Also, in order to get a sense of the NU community as a whole, I’ve posted a poll on the topic of favorite NU football jersey. I invite all readers to register their vote. The reason the road jersey is last on this topic is because the basic outline of that uniform really hasn’t changed much over the years. The uniform above is a 1992-94 road jersey, but even with the changes since then the basic outline of a white uniform with purple numbers hasn’t changed. In fact, according to the history section on Hail to Purple NU wore a similar white jersey even in 1935. The 1995-97 versions of this jersey had an N-Cat logo similar to that on the Rose Bowl jersey featured yesterday. The 92-96 versions all had Northwestern striping as you can see above in the 92-94 version. Starting in 1997 the Northwestern stripping disappeared. From 1998-2002 the strips were Adidas strips. Since 2003 NU has worn a USC style single strip. NU has also changed road pants with at various times purple, black, and white pants being used on the road. Overall I like the look of NU’s white jersey. Perhaps that’s why it has stayed similar in design over the years.

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Uniform Talk: Rose Bowl Black

The old uniforms shown last week brought in several e-mail comments form readers. Clearly uniforms are a topic which many NU fans hold very strong feelings about. I think is likely due to the fact that Northwestern has worn such a wide variety of uniforms over the years. Today we return to the subject of Northwestern uniforms by focusing on the uniform worn during Northwestern’s historic Rose Bowl appearance on January 1, 1996. With the exception of the even patches, this uniform is almost identical to the uniforms worn during the 1997 Citrus Bowl and the 1997 regular season. The uniforms worn during the 1995 and 1996 regular seasons are also very similar to this design, except they featured the famous Northwestern strips on the sleeve below the N-Cat logo. I believe in the case of the Rose Bowl they were omitted due to the fact NU needed to wear two different event patches. In 1997, starting with the January 1 Citrus Bowl, NU switched uniform makers to Reebok and then Adidas, NU has not worn the Northwestern strip design since this change. The Rose Bowl jersey was manufactured by Russell Athletic. Of note the jerseys worn in 95-96 was the fact NU went to a solid white number. This was a change from first purple numbers (which were hard to see on black jerseys) and then a white number with a pruple outline. NU has used the white number with purple outline in the black jerseys from Adidas.
One of the features of the jerseys from 95-97 that I really liked was this N-Cat logo on the shoulder. I know some traditionalists object to the cat head being purple, but I think the logo looks great and most importantly, is clearly visible. This is far better than the small logo now on the sleeves of the new jerseys which is almost impossible to see. Also, I still think the NU strips should be on the sleeves.

Northwestern wore this patch during the 1996 Rose Bowl game. For some reason, USC did not.
NU also wore this patch. It is interesting to note that the Rose Bowl did not at the time have a cooperate sponsor. Even now the Rose Bowl handles sponsorship differently with the game being referred to as, “The Rose Bowl presented by AT&T” and not “The AT&T Rose Bowl” which is the form other bowl names take.
If NU does choose to wear black for a game in the future, I'd like to see them replicate the 95-96 regular season jerseys which would look almost like this, but have the N-Cat in place of the event patches and the NU strips on the sleeves.
News and Notes:
Kyle Rowley will play for the senior national team of his native Trinidad and Tobago. You can debate the level of talent in Trinidad and Tobago all you want, but I don't see how this can be anything but great for Rowley's development. While most college players can play pick up and college summer leagues with no coaches, I really think I guy like Rowley who doesn’t have a full lifetime of basketball experience will be helped by playing in an organized tournament with professional coaches.
Team USA's U-19 team won again in New Zealand, but the early report doesn't have any stats for John Shurna.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shurna and Team USA Start Strong in New Zealand

John Shurna had 9 points and 8 rebounds for USA Basketball's U-19 team as the red, white, and blue defeated Croatia in scrimmage by the score of 97-68. The full story is here: http://www.usabasketball.com/news.php?news_page=09_mu19_exh1

Friday, June 26, 2009

Memorabilia: Uniform Edition

Today’s look at Northwestern memorabilia focuses on uniforms. As someone who finds uniform designs interesting to analyze, I really enjoyed when Northwestern use to have their athletic garage sale to sell off used equipment. My parents bought much of what you see below at those events.

When I think about Northwestern’s uniforms over my lifetime, I suppose the biggest criticism I have for both football and basketball that they haven’t been particularly consistent. Below, you see uniforms which were purple, black, and grey. I think this lack of a clear brand probably hurts NU when it comes to be a recognizable team. I mean everybody knows Michigan’s winged helmets or North Carolina’s powder blue. I’m well aware that NU fans debate whether the ‘Cats should wear purple or black home uniforms for football. Personally, I must admit I really did like the black, but right now I’d stick with purple the majority of the time. It is, after all, the school color. Still, I would love to see the ‘Cats come out of the tunnel in classic throwback black for the Penn State game in October. If NU were ever to return to the black jerseys, though, I would want them to be a true throwback to the 95-96 era with the Northwestern strips and the N-Cat logo. The black jersey below is actually from the 1993 season.

NU’s current basketball jerseys are among the best I’ve seen the ‘Cats wear. They are simple, yet clearly interesting and I think memorable enough that should the team win they would be a solid brand which fans would want to buy and wear. The basketball jerseys presented today come from the 95-96 season. The purple is very similar to the current road jersey, but it doesn’t have the black stripping (which I really like) that the current jerseys have along the side. The grey Evan Eschmeyer jersey below might have belonged to one of NU’s best players, but grey is not a good color for an NU home jersey. When your schools colors are purple and white it doesn’t make much sense to wear a grey jersey. Some schools which don’t use white as a school color might want to change things up and not wear traditional home whites, West Virginia has a nice grey jersey, but in NU’s case I’m glad they choose to put the grey uniforms aside and stick with the white. Overall, I think what Northwestern wears currently for both football and basketball are among the best jerseys NU has wore in my lifetime, but I still would love to see throwback 1995 football jerseys just once this season.
For more on NU uniforms visit Hail to Purple: http://hailtopurple.com/features/unis1.html
A black with purple numbers 1993 NU football jersey

The 1993 jersey featured the famous Northwestern strips

Northwestern wore these grey basketball jerseys briefly during the 95-96 season

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Field Set for Chicago Invitation Challenge: NU and ND to play on Nov. 27th

The following teams will play in the Chicago Invitation Challenge at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates on November 27 and 28. EDIT: Northwestern and Notre Dame will play on the 27th.

University of Notre Dame
Northwestern University
Iowa State University
Saint Louis University
Liberty University
Mississippi Valley State University
Tennessee State University
Kennesaw State University

Some early round games in the CIC will be played at Welsh-Ryan, I believe this a great event for NU to play in and I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NU Women’s Hoops Picks Up Major Talent

I try not to get too excited about the signing of recruits. I think it’s a little crazy to treat a 17 year old kid as the savior of a program or the heir apparent to a player with four years of college experience. I also have seen more than enough top recruits fizzle and bottom-tier recruits shine to know rankings aren’t the be all and end all that they often seem. That said, obviously recruiting rankings have some value as sites like Rivals and Scouts make millions each year producing top 100 lists. Therefore, I think it is time note the amazing work done by NU Women’s Hoops Coach Joe McKeown in recruiting for next year. He has four signed players and all rank in the nation's top 105.

Coach McKeowen has signed 4 players to play for the ‘Cats next year. Right now, McKeown’s class is rated 27th in the nation, but that actually doesn’t take into account the signing of point guard Inesha Hale of Raytown, MO and wing player Kendall Hackney of Cincinnati, Ohio (ranked 11th best power forward and 55th overall) who decommitted from USC. ESPN says of Hackney, “Having both size and mobility to combine with her well honed skills she presents defenses with headache on every possession.” For her part, Hale is rated 87th nationally overall and 14th nationally at her position.

Before inking Hale and Hackney this spring, McKeown signed forwards Inga Orekhova and Dannielle Diamant in the fall. The 6-3 Orekhova is ranked 40th in the nation overall and having missed a good portion of her junior season, probably deserves to be rated higher. Diamant is rated 20th in the nation at her position (105 overall) and at 6-4 gives NU a very athletic forward. She also has some great basketball genes at her grandfather is former UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian.

So what do these four players mean for NU Women’s Hoops. Well, first it means McKeown must be able to sell NU as well as anybody this side of Pat Fitzgerald. Second, it means both NU’s Men’s and Women’s hoops teams are trending upward. Could the 2009-2010 season see both squads in the NCAA tournament? That might be a reach, but with the talent Coach McKeown has assembled it seems a WNIT breath is a realistic expectation this year and an NCAA breath can’t be too far away. People forget NU's Women's Basketball team has a great history, so to see the program moving back towards the high points of that history is a great thing for both Coach McKeown and Northwestern.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NU Links

Here are a few worthwhile links to check out for NU fans:

First, check out Lake the Posts for an interview with the Head Coach of NU QB commit Trevor Siemien. Coach Bob Head makes Trevor sound like a perfect fit for NU, but even more important I think is that Coach Head tells of what a great job Fitz and the staff are doing in selling NU across the nation: http://www.laketheposts.com/2009/06/ltp-interview-with-trevor-siemiens-head.html

Second, I want to welcome another NU site to the blogosphere. Rodger, a sophomore journalism student at NU, has started a site called The Purple Drank on which he has already written basketball and football previews. As I've said before, I think our local media lacks in NU coverage, so I really do believe getting more NU content on the web is a big positive for 'Cat fans. Here's the site: http://sippinonpurple.blogspot.com/

Finally, I want to mention a few future posts I'm working on the let everyone know what else is coming up on WRR in the next few weeks. Thanks to the great deal of positive e-mail I got when I posted pictures of the NU's poster programs I will go back into the archives and pull out some more poster programs. I will also bring out a few other items from NU's past history which I'm sure will please fans both old and new. Also, I'll have some thoughts on the great work of Coach Joe McKeown as NU's Women's hoops team seems to sign a top-100 player each day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Former NU Coach Kevin O'Neill Named Head Coach at USC

USC has named former NU coach Kevin O'Neill their new head coach. He will take over for Tim Floyd who left the job admist rumors of recruiting violations. O’Neill apparently wasn’t the first choice for the job as this article indicates. The fact is, though, he’s got the job and this will be O’Neill’s fifth job as a head coach at a BCS-conference school. He also coached a season as a head coach in the NBA with Toronto. Part of my finds it amazing teams are still giving O’Neill jobs as he certainly didn’t leave Northwestern, Arizona, or Tennessee with positive feelings, but KO is a guy with deep basketball knowledge and he obviously has some strong references in the NBA who can vouch for that knowledge. He also fits USC well because it seems the Trojans wanted a guy with NBA or BCS experience. Personally, I might have gone another direction were I AD at USC and hired a top-assistant, but it seems that’s not how things are done in the USC athletic programs. Anyhow it will be interesting to see how O’Neill does in his second go around as a Pac-10 head coach.

Friday, June 19, 2009

NU Upset Over MSU is Big Ten Network Game of the Year for 08-09

Northwestern's 70-63 upset over Michigan State was named the Big Ten Network Game of the Year for the 08-09 season on tonight's Big Ten Network Awards. This is a nice win for the 'Cats, though, I'm sure they'd have traded the award for an NCAA bid. Still, it has been a long time since an NU basketball win could have even been considered for such an award. If the BTN was around in 93-94 then NU's OT win over the Fab Four (No Weber) might have taken home the title, but honestly that's about it in the last 15 years (I mean personally I plan to vote the Michael Jenkins game as Game of the Decade, but I think that's more a personal view because of the fun I had that night at Welsh-Ryan than a fair look at how meaningful the win was). Anyhow, I say thanks to the BTN for the award, but like Coach Carmody and his team I'm hoping for bigger and better awards and rewards next season.

As a look back here's my postgame report: http://welsh-ryanramblings.blogspot.com/2009/01/stunner-cats-upset-7-spartans-70-63-in.html

Thanks to NUBears, here are the highlights: http://northwesternhighlights.blogspot.com/2009/02/northwestern-wildcats-basketball-vs_4452.html

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shurna Makes U-19 USA Team

As reported on http://twitter.com/BigTenNetwork John Shurna has made USA Basketball's U-19 team. As I noted last month when John got the chance to tryout, this is a great chance for John and for Northwestern basketball. I hope it works out well for both John and the rest of Coach Jamie Dixon's team in Auckland, New Zealand from July 2-12.

Medill Students Produce Ricky Byrdsong Documentary

Several NU students have produced a documentary about the life and legacy of former Wildcat coach Ricky Byrdsong who was tragically and senselessly killed by a white supremacist in 1999. The documentary is a fine piece of work which examines some very important issues. You can watch the entire documentary on-line at vimeo.

Chicago College Basketball has a Q&A with one the students who produced the documentary. You can read that at this link: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-college-basketball/2009/06/remembering-ricky-byrdsong.html#more

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Memorabilia: Newspaper Edition and other thoughts

The Chicago Tribue reports that NU beat Purdue to win the Big Ten Title

I used to collect newspapers all the time if the stories involved a game I attended or a big win for a team I follow. I don’t do that any more, but I do still have the Chicago Tribune sports section from November 19, 1995. That is the day after NU clinched its first Big Ten football title in nearly 60 years. I hope someday to have a similar basketball newspaper. The huge headlines and the front page devoted entirely to Northwestern is something we don’t see very often today for either football or basketball. Part of that is no NU story in the 14 years since 1995 matched the magnitude of that season, but it is still really a shame Northwestern must fight so strongly with Notre Dame and Illinois for media coverage in what is really our home town. Of course, we all know the newspaper industry is struggling, but isn’t just papers which pass on covering NU. Local news often times will run longer ND or Illini stories when compared with Northwestern. I also find that despite the fact a ton of NU alums or involved in sports media, it seems Northwestern doesn’t get the nation or semi-nation coverage that you might expect. I do love the fact we now have the Big Ten Network to look towards for coverage of the ‘Cats, but the BTN does have 11 teams to cover and will, probably rightfully, focus on teams which are (or expected) to be among the best in each sport. NU got a lot of nice hoops coverage during the good run last winter, but got a very short segment on the Spring Football Show because most experts see the Wildcats as a bottom half of the Big Ten team. I guess what I wish most of all for NU coverage whether it be on TV or in the paper isn’t so much that it was more expensive, but that it at least acknowledged the great players NU does have. Credit has to go to Adam Rittenberg at ESPN.com for listing Corey Wotton as the 9th best player in the Big Ten. I might list him even higher, but at least it shows respect for an NU player that has 1st round NFL talent. I also give credit to Mark May for placing Brad Philips on his All-May Day team last fall after Philips overcame injury to lead the Wildcat secondary in tackles. Let’s hope ESPN’s basketball personalities acknowledge Kevin Coble this winter when he puts up huge numbers for what I hope is a team which features the near-basketball equivalent of the 1995 football season. If that happens, I bet the Chicago papers once again put up a sports section with the front page all NU.

Also: Single game football tickets are on sale right now for NU's 2009 season. I encourage everyone to try to get their friends and family out to a few games this year. I’m certainly going to try and get some friends who haven’t seen a game at Ryan Field or haven’t seen a game in a while to come to Evanston and watch the ‘Cats.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Historic Northwestern Memorabilia

1993 Poster showing Lee Gissendaner catching the pass from Len Williams to finish "The Comeback"

Continuing my offseason trip through my archives, I’ve found more Northwestern memorabilia of which I’d like to see modern versions. What we have today are poster programs. These programs started in the 1993 season for both football and basketball and ran through I believe 1998. Now, I’ll admit the poster programs had some serious problems when it came to reading them if someone was next to you, but as a collectable they are pretty cool, plus the allowed for the preservation of some historic moments. Above, you see the most famous of poster programs which shows Lee Gissendaner making the catch to complete “The Comeback” against Illinois I was lucky enough to get a copy signed by Gary Barnett, but actually do have an original as well. Below, is the program from the 1993 football opener which show quarterback Len Williams and his receivers and reads “Lenny and the Jets” despite the fact that season didn’t go very well (2-9), I think the idea of promoting star players is a good one. I’d love to see basketball posters next year touting Kevin Coble as a possible Big Ten MVP candidate. They would certainly be better than the poster from two years ago on which an adidas shoe picture larger than the photo of any NU player. Another item I liked about the poster programs which I would like to see on future NU materials is the ability to use clear action shots like the Gissendaner catch or the Pat Baldwin dunk shown below on the program for the 1994 NIT tilt with DePaul. Bottom line, which I don’t think the poster programs themselves should come back, I’d love to see this years schedule posters for both football and basketball take the same approach these poster programs did and clearly recognize top players and events in creative ways.

The Lenny and the Jets poster started the 1993 football season and the poster program era

1994 NIT vs Xavier poster progarm with Kevin Rankin (55) and TJ Rayford (34)

1994 NIT poster from when NU hosted DePaul at Welsh-Ryan Arena

Floyd reportedly resigns as USC hoops coach

A report has Tim Floyd resigning as USC's coach today. More info is here. With all the trouble around USC in the last several months perhaps this won’t surprise some folks, but many other programs have suffered problems and rumors and the coaching staff remains in place. Now, we don’t actually know if Floyd’s resignation has anything to do with possible recruiting violations or not, but certainly this draws more attention to those rumors. It will be interesting to see how this story develops.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More 92-93 NU Player Cards

I've gotten a couple e-mails the last couple days since I posted the Todd Leslie card from 92-93 asking if I had any other examples of cards from that year. I don't have them all, but below I've posted photos of several other examples of player cards. Long time NU fans will note that many of the players commemorated in the 92-93 cards were stars on NU’s 93-94 NIT team.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NU day on BTN is June 8th

Monday June 8th is Northwestern day on the Big Ten Network. Three basketball games make the list, but I have to say my all time favorite, the 75-74 win over Iowa on Michael Jenkins three buzzer-beating three, does not make the list and I’m a little disappointed (thought it is permanently saved on my TIVO). The game which are on are:

5AM 1988 – Northwestern, 66 Indiana, 64. Bill Foster’s biggest win as NU coach and the only time I know of that Dicky V. made it to Welsh-Ryan to broadcast the ‘Cats.

7PM 2009 – Northwestern, 70 Michigan State, 63. Though this didn’t turn out to be the springboard for an NCAA Tournament run I thought it might be, it is still the most impressive win of what was a very solid hoops season.

3AM (June 9) 2006 – Northwestern, 51 Iowa, 48. The year after Michael Jenkins, Evan Seacat and Vedran Vukusic made key three pointers to lead NU back for a double digit deficit.

Also on TV: ESPN College Football Live is having a 50 states in 50 days tour. Illinois will be the focus near the end of the tour on August 3rd.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The End of Media Guides????

Northwestern media guides from recent seasons

Michigan and Ohio State have said they no longer plan to print media guides. Their reasoning has to do with the large amount of money lose each year printing the giant books and giving away far more than they sell. Logically this makes a great deal of sense, but I have say as a fan I hope this doesn’t become a trend. I really enjoy getting a chance to read the media guides NU prints each year. Now admittedly they do become somewhat obsolete as soon as the year ends as various records are broken and players graduate. Still, they are nice memento to keep on hand. As you can see in the picture above, I have several media guides easily accessible and several more which are boxed away elsewhere. If teams go to only on-line guides I’ll be disappointed as sometimes the media guide is the best way to remember a season. They summaries from the year before are great at helping remember games. Also, I really enjoy the first few pages of the media guide which helps set up the upcoming year and tells a little bit about Northwestern as a school and gameday at Ryan Field or Welsh-Ryan Arena. Hopefully, if media guides do disappear this information will still have some method of getting to recruits as I’m sure it is a nice bit of knowledge for kids with little background on NU.
Card for NU guard Todd Leslie

Now to shift gears a little, media guides aren’t the only items lurking around in my collection of NU gear. I recently ran across a series of giveaway items from the 1992-93 season which I think are fantastic. During that year Northwestern issued trading cards for each player. I can remember as a kid thinking this was awesome and I think it is something NU might want to think about again. It is often mentioned that Northwestern athletics are great events for kids and returning to this idea would only add to that notion. Besides, limited addition giveaways are cool to adults as well and anything that help markets your team and players can’t hurt.
In the next few days I'll talk about some other NU memorabilia items of which I’d love to see new versions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wildcats Will Play in Chicago Invitational Challenge

This rumor was posted a while back, but now it is offical, both Northwestern and Notre Dame will play in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. Often times these type of events set up their brackets to see the final they want. Therefore, it is very likely that should NU and ND both win their early round games the two will play in the event's final at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates.