The Mountain West will return to Nike’s high-tech basketballs for its upcoming tournament after the apparel and equipment maker ironed out some rough edges on its analytics-tracking balls.
After receiving criticism for its use of a Nike ball, the Mountain West went with a Wilson ball like the one used in the NCAA tournament. However, the Mountain West has a marketing contract with Nike for apparel and equipment for basketball and soccer tournaments and has since returned to the Oregon-based company for its balls.
Nike has made some changes to the ball after complaints that the orange on the ball was too shiny. The new ball will still have ShotTracker technology embedded in it to track real-time analytics.
“Teams have expressed their thoughts on the basketballs,” Dan Butterly, the Mountain West’s senior associate commissioner told The San Diego Union-Tribune of the controversial Nike model. “Nike met with their factory reps and ultimately decided that they wanted to reproduce the basketball to the specs that they wanted, and they came out with an improved basketball for the Mountain West Tournament.”
Nike apparently sent out about a half-dozen balls to teams last week for practice ahead of the tournament to ensure they passed muster. One of the main criticisms of the original ball was that they had a dead spot near the logo where the chip is embedded and would not bounce back completely if bounced directly on that spot.
“We’re not sensing any (dead spots) in the new balls,” Butterly said. “We haven’t seen it. We’ve played five women’s games with it and we haven’t had any issues. The coaches have been really excited about these balls.”