Each time the new postseason threads make an appearance, it serves as a reminder of the days when UE wore its own T-shirt jerseys — first under coach Arad McCutchan starting in the 1940s and again when Jim Crews revived the tradition in 1986.
Though the program abandoned its signature look when Steve Merfeld took over in 2002 – the sleeves were seen both as detrimental to recruiting and players’ motion on the court — the Aces still have a set available. They’re not as tight-fitting as the adidas jerseys but rather replicas of the T-shirt design worn by UE teams of old.
“We have them, and they stand for the proud tradition and history of the program,” said coach Marty Simmons.
UE last wore sleeved jerseys for its final game at Roberts Stadium, a 73-67 senior day win over Illinois State on Feb. 16, 2011. The Aces’ current throwbacks aren’t the same as those from the Roberts Stadium sendoff — UE has since switched to Nike — and Simmons said he’s saving them for a special occasion.
“I do think we will wear those again,” he said.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports last week, former UE guard Clint Cuffle said he previously didn’t imagine sleeves ever making a return to basketball uniforms.
“When I was there, we’d have recruits come in and say, ‘Oh, they make you guys wear sleeves?’” Cuffle said. “We usually convinced most people it wasn’t a big deal, but it was a disadvantage. I wouldn’t say it was a major factor, but we had to overcome enough hurdles as a small school without adding another one.
“I liked the way they looked. The new coach at Evansville, Marty Simmons, has been at Evansville a long time and wore the sleeves when he played. So I could see them coming back to Evansville for sure.”