Detroit honors Vitale, rocks fantastic unis
December, 6, 2011
By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com
Monday night's hoops slate might be charitably described as tepid. There just wasn't a whole lot here. But there was at least one game worth tuning into, and not only because it featured a quality mid-major outfit (Detroit) taking on a struggling but intriguing young team (St. John's).
Detroit won that game 69-63, and looked good doing so. Its defense was especially impressive; Detroit seemed to feed off its fans in the second half, swarming Red Storm ballhandlers and making everything difficult for a team still missing its head coach, Steve Lavin, as he continues his recovery from offseason prostate cancer surgery. But the win, encouraging as it was for Detroit -- fans even stormed the court! -- almost felt beside the point.
The first item of business was the dedication ceremony to former coach and ESPN analyst Dick Vitale. Detroit named its court after Vitale, who 32 years ago to the day called the first college hoops broadcast on ESPN's network. Vitale gave up his coaching career to become an analyst, which has worked out quite well -- few men have had as much of an impact on fans' appreciation of the sport as the exuberant Vitale -- but it surely seemed like a major risk at the time. Cool idea, cool dedication, good stuff all around.
The second-coolest portion of the evening wasn't really a "portion" so much as a sartorial decision. Yes, I'm talking about Detroit's throwback uniforms. (There's a good photo here, too.) The uniforms are about as old-school as possible, featuring distinctly 70s-era stars on all sides in addition to classic font and that quirky design that pushes the team name below the numbers and practically requires that players wear their uniform tops untucked. They. Were. Awesome.
So, yeah, slow night of hoops. But the affair at Detroit was worth the watch, not only for the game, and not only for its celebration of a college-hoops icon but, yes, also for those tremendous throwback uniforms. Between Detroit and Memphis' season-opening throwback gear, I don't think I'm alone when I say college hoops could do with a few more throwback efforts in the mix.
In other words: Your move, Marquette.