Shoe companies are as much of a driving force in college basketball as there is, which means that unlike the NBA, you see some minor variations when teams travel to different courts.
Enter the issue that has gotten some traction in the wake of Maryland’s 74-68 victory over No. 3 Iowa on Thursday at XFINITY Center in College Park. The Hawkeyes had some concerns about the Under Armour basketballs being used.
“It feels different. It’s heavy like a street ball, like an outside ball,” Iowa wing Peter Jok said, via the Des Moines Register. “No excuses. It does feel weird.”
This isn’t a story about basketball tampering. It is about brand variation. Iowa, a Nike school, uses Nike basketballs at home games. Kansas, an Adidas school, uses Wilson basketballs. Maryland, with Under Armour, uses Under Armour basketballs.
Teams will often practice with the brand of balls that they know they will use in the days leading up to a game. It helps to adjust the learning curve.
This isn’t new. The New York Times even wrote a piece on it back in 2012 and if the New York Times is on it, well, it’s a thing.
From that Times piece:
But the difference in basketballs from brand to brand is not insignificant. Finicky shooters and ball-handling point guards might complain if they think certain brands are too slick or too rough, or that a certain basketball’s grooves are too deep or too shallow.
Iowa struggled shooting from the floor, shooting just 43 percent overall and 21 percent from three. The heart of their offense, National Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff, was 2-of-13.
Part of that was tremendous defense from Jake Layman and Robert Carter, Jr., but he also missed some shots that he typically would have made.
In the remainder of the piece from the Register, Jok and point guard Mike Gesell brought up the issue but dismissed the importance of it on the outcome of the game.
Read more here.