Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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New threads give vintage look for Saluki basketball

Madison Giltner
A close up of the new Saluki basketball uniforms for this season Sept. 13, 2023 in Carbondale, Illinois.

When the process of designing new jerseys for men’s basketball began back in April, it was a routine change for the team to regularly switch up their on-court look. But there is a big update this time around.

“It’s obviously the best of the best, this model that we have, because it’s completely different,” equipment manager Matt Orbany said. “And we got a sample of it, of just the jersey, and we’re like ‘yea let’s go with this.’”

The jerseys are changed about every two years.


Orbany sorted through many different designs, styles and formats that Under Armour provides. He worked with head coach Bryan Mullins and his brother, assistant coach Brendan Mullins, to put together the best look for their players.

“I had the freedom of designing at first…so I just created a bunch of styles and then I handed them off, and they let me know what they like best or what they want to tweak,” Orbany said.

The intriguing aspects of these specific jerseys are the fact that the names, numbers and other text are stitched, not sublimated like in years past. This means the jersey designs are infused directly onto the fabric.

Previously, it would’ve taken anywhere from four to six weeks for the threads to be processed, but this format takes much longer. Regardless, when the samples of the new jerseys’ texture were felt in person, they knew the wait would be worth it.

Orbany has also worked on different jerseys for special occasions, including blackout threads supporting cancer awareness worn by the basketball and football teams. This year, a slight change was made to SIU football’s 2023 edition of these jerseys, where a camouflage pattern was added.

The new looks for SIU basketball were delivered with a fully customizable template, where Orbany got to work with the basketball designer for Under Armour for the first time. Using an online design resource, Orbany had some room to work with in terms of finding the best fit for the team.

“There’s a couple different styles that they offer, and I could’ve just entered or did a little design, a little magic, and kind of created different styles,” Orbany said.


He gathered various looks for the Mullins brothers to look over. They settled on a layout where ‘Southern Illinois’ was plastered on the front of the jerseys, which is different then what has been displayed in the past.

“To have the whole name ‘Southern Illinois’, the last couple years we’ve did SIU. It’s always exciting when you get new jerseys, more so for the players than the coaches. But I thought they came out really nice,” Bryan Mullins said.

With many styles to choose from, Mullins found it simple when picking which jersey would best represent his team, the school, and the region around them.

“Just kind of wanted something clean, something that we thought the players would like, the fans would like, the community would like,” Bryan Mullins said.

The new threads happen to come as Saluki basketball is on a new road after losing its two leading scorers from last season, Marcus Domask and Lance Jones, to the transfer portal. Their departures headlined a flurry of additions and subtractions to the team’s roster, which will only return eight players from the 2022-23 squad. Although a lot of new players will be donning maroon this season, the team’s goal remains the same.

“Our two leading scorers left so we’re gonna have to find some guys to pick up the pieces, but I think we got some dudes who can make that happen,” center Cade Hornecker said. “I think this year, we’re trying to accomplish the same thing we were trying to accomplish last year: win the Valley, make it to the tournament, hopefully make a little run…”

There have been positive reactions to the new jerseys around the locker room, as they seem to hold a classic feel.

“My first reaction was that I really liked them. I’m a big fan of vintage stuff so I was excited for the throwback look,” Hornecker said.

Hornecker also said it reminded him of the “FloorburnU” days of SIU basketball, when his head coach still played. In these times, about 15 years ago, SIU was regularly in the national media as one of the top mid-major programs in the country; and although the Salukis didn’t have the exact look as the current team is sporting, Bryan Mullins tended to agree with his seven-foot center.

“Yeah, I never had the Southern with the Illinois at the bottom of ours, but I think it does have a vintage look…and I think the guys are really excited about them,” Bryan Mullins said.

Trent Brown, who is entering his fifth season with the Salukis, also described a historic look to the new jerseys that seemed to be an acquired taste in terms of reactions to their reveal.

“I like them a lot, I think it’s an ode to the past and the history of Saluki basketball, which obviously it’s gotten some strong reactions, even on social media,” Brown said.

The social media feedback hasn’t completely reflected the locker room reaction, but Orbany says he has learned that criticism, both good and bad, are what comes with the business. He stays focused on the opinions of the most important people connected to the jerseys themselves.

“No matter what you decide to put out, there’s always going to be people that don’t like it, that’s just how it is,” Orbany said. “But the majority of the reception that we’ve got has been pretty awesome. Fans, and the players and the staff love it, so you know, that’s all that matters, to be honest.”

After the program finished last year with its most wins (23) since the 2006-07 season, there is a lot to be excited about for Saluki basketball. This season will feature 18 games at the Banterra Center, which will be the most in the program’s history, beginning Nov. 6.

Although it was set out to be an ordinary jersey change for the team, the throwback to previous teams and excitement of new faces donning the maroon and white point to an exciting season for Saluki basketball.

“We’re happy to sport them and we can’t wait to get out there in front of everybody in them,” Brown said.



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