Grading the Kansas Jayhawks 'Smurf' Unis vs. West Virginia

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2013

Sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe
Sophomore guard Naadir TharpeJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Kansas Jayhawks are the nation's second-ranked team. On Monday night, in their first ever meeting with the West Virginia Mountaineers, Kansas extended its winning streak to 18 games, the best in the nation.

When you're that successful, you can wear whatever you want (see, for example, Lady Gaga or Don Cherry).

During their 61-56 victory—which was televised on ESPN—the Jayhawks sported what might be called their "smurf" uniforms. We're talking deep blue jerseys with blue numbers and names, blue shorts and blue sneakers.

All they were missing were the white Phrygian caps favored in Smurf village. OK, and the white pants and white shoes as well. Anyway, they looked like smurfs.

But Bill Self's guys certainly weren't feeling blue. They out-rebounded and out-shot the Mountaineers while forcing 16 turnovers en route to victory.

And you can be sure that these kids are way more than "three apples high." The Jayhawks are so tall that they only shot a Wilt Chamberlain-esque 52.9 percent from the free-throw line. Their 16 missed foul shots kept the contest closer than it should have been.

But enough about the game. They got the W, so let's grade those uniforms!


Jerseys: A

Typically, when the Jayhawks play away from home, they sport a blue jersey with white numerals and lettering and crimson paneling down the sides (though next year's jersey may feature more white and less red).

But Monday night in Morgantown, they kicked it up a notch. I don't even know how the refs knew who to call the fouls on!

It was a refreshing move to see such a storied program get adventurous with its uniforms. Their blues looked a shade bluer, perhaps because there was absolutely nothing to contrast it with.

The only hints of crimson were the faint outlining around the numbers and school name (though player names still had light blue outlining), some accents on their shoes and their solid-colored laces (check out freshman guard Ben McLemore's Instragram pic).

Sometimes, jersey redesigns can go awry (I'm thinking of Kentucky's "denim" look in the '90s), but these uniforms were a wholesale success. Jayhawk nation will certainly be clamoring to purchase the Adidas-designed jerseys.

According to the KU Athletics website, the redesign even includes a "shimmer finish for a bold on-court look." Well, I know when I want to be bold, I always choose my shimmer finish!


Shorts: A-

There's not much to say about the shorts. They're the same royal blue as the base color but essentially unbroken, except for a little white Jayhawk on the left leg. These shorts are best paired with a blued-out jersey, blue shoes and a jammy pinot noir.


Shoes: A

The shoes themselves are nothing out of the ordinary, but they do make me want to replace the laces in every pair I own with some rocking crimson ones.

The red accents around the back of the heel really make the horizontal red stripes on the socks pop, plus it helps dazzle opposing defenders as you leave them eating your dust.


Twitter Reaction: C-

Unless you were watching your alma mater lose to them or consider the Jayhawks to be a mortal rival, you had to think Kansas' jerseys were styling. Right? Well, maybe not.

The most common complaint (or wisecrack) was that the numbers were too difficult to see, which could be a problem for refs and official scorers with wonky eyesight. Dick Vitale thought so, but he is 73 years of age, baby!

ESPN's Bomani Jones (who is only 32) agreed, but did so by sympathizing with the hard-working tailor who made the jerseys:

And USA Today's Dan Wolken even suggested that the NCAA ban them, at least before they prevent colleges from putting Twitter handles on the back of their jerseys:

Some commenters replying to Wolken's tweet thought that the jerseys might have been left in the washing machine too long, or perhaps they had just decided to wear plain blue t-shirts with the sleeves cut off.

At least it wasn't all negative from the micro-bloggers. Andy Katz of ESPN used the word "love," while's Andy Glockner kept it humorous:

Essentially, this just goes to show that Twitter can be a place for praise and fun, but it's primarily used for snarky sniping and negativity. And all this on Kansas' birthday (it became a state on Jan. 29, 1861).


Overall Uniform Grade: A-

While this smurf look could've ended up being boring or garish, it came off as a rousing success in this author's mind. Plus, they beat UCLA to the punch.

The Bruins will be wearing an all-blue uniform for an upcoming home game against USC (per the team website). It pretty much looks like they stole the idea from Kansas, except their lighter shade of blue doesn't carry it as well.

While it wasn't the first monochromatic uniform that we've seen around basketball this year (the Cincinnati Bearcats tried it, as did the NBA on Christmas), it suited the team. Kansas looked good in the process and they won the game.

Now Kansas should consider wearing the smurf unis at home and "bluing out" the Allen Fieldhouse.