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Basketball committee chairman says road losses kept UK out of NCAA

By LARRY VAUGHT

Mike Bobinski, chairman of the Division I men’s basketball committee that set the NCAA Tournament field, said Sunday night that Kentucky, the defending NCAA champion, was one of the first teams left out of the tourney field along with Alabama, Iowa, Southern Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia.

“Kentucky was a team, because they had done some things during the course of the year, we analyzed very closely. They were in that last group of teams we evaluated,” said Bobinski. “When Nerlens (Noel) was playing, they were a team that showed some signs of making some progress.

“Even at that point they hadn’t done a lot of notable things. Since he went down, they really struggled away from home. You’ve seen the results. They lost four times I think away from home, double-digits to teams that are not in the field. The tournament is played away from home. It just felt like at the end of the day as we evaluated them they just weren’t there in terms of being one of those 37 best teams (to get an at-large bid). They have plenty of talent, well-coached, all of that. At the end of the day we didn’t get them in that group this year.”

Bobinski also said just winning one game in the SEC Tournament where UK lost to Vanderbilt in its first game likely would not have been enough to get UK into the tourney.

“Had they won a couple games. I wouldn’t say they would necessarily have had to win it (to make the NCAA),” Bobinski said. “They were on the road. They were at a neutral site at that point in time. They were on our radar throughout the week, leading into this week. Just winning the game, winning two games would have really given us a little bit more confidence about who they are as a team. Unfortunately that just didn’t play out.”

He said leaving the defending national champion out of the tourney was never a discussion point.

“Obviously that’s not a consideration of ours. I would say that clearly is an indication of the balance in the field this year. It just shows you you’ve got to earn it each and every year. It’s a challenge. That’s the competitive nature of college basketball,” Bobinski said.

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28 comments

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  1. RJ

    Look. I’m not a conspiricy theorist but let’s look at this objectively. The vast majority of college basketball does not like the KY “one and done” model. Therefore don’t expect anyone on the selection committee to cut KY any slack.

    I’d say the Cats would have had as much chance as any team to win a few games in the NCAA tournement but KY would have never made it to the quarter finals based on the showing against Vandy.

  2. Cowboy

    I can’t argue with anything the man said. He’s right.

    I pull for the Blue no matter what, but it was right we were left out, sadly.

    I know there are logistical issue with it, and promises have already been made previous to us getting an NIT bid, but I sure wish I didn’t have to watch it… which I will.

  3. King Ghidora

    I just hope this doesn’t derail the Calipari Express that we’ve seen on the recruiting trail. Recruits don’t want to play in the NIT. This sort of thing can snowball if it isn’t changed quickly and in a big way. The Cats have talent lined up for next year. They’ll probably have a bench too just like Cal said, because the NBA doesn’t want NIT caliber players either. Will that help next year or will it hurt? A single rotten apple and all that. I watched that happen UK during the 90′s. Turmoil on a team is poison. Will we see players coming back thinking they have a starting position locked up? They have already proven they don’t have the spirit they need to be honest. I keep thinking back to Team Turmoil and Team Turmoil 2. I won’t mention the names because I want that chapter of BBN lore to just fade away. But it did happen and it can happen again. And it only takes a few players to ruin things for everyone. Even great players can fall into that trap. I’m going to go ahead and say this even though I hate to. We saw selfish play on this team. After last year that was such a shock it took the wind out of everyone’s sails and I really, really don’t want it causing problems again next year.

    I will say that selfish play wasn’t the big problem for this team. It was there but other issues were bigger like the lack of intelligent play to be honest. Plus the lack of tough play caused problems. If we see another set of players that show up and play that way the Cal system could go into shut down mode really quick.

    I saw Orlando Smith come to UK expecting players to show up hungry like they had at the other schools where he coached. Players who aren’t told they are the next great thing usually show up wanting to prove something. Players who have been rated highly their entire life can sometimes have a feeling of entitlement. I really think Smith’s biggest failing was his inability to deal with those big ego type players. I sure as heck hope we aren’t seeing the same problem with Cal’s players. If you sign all the best players it’s very easy for them to think they can cakewalk through the season. Smith’s inability to change that dynamic put UK in a death spiral IMO. The more top recruits saw those kind of problems the less they wanted to play for UK and the less the top recruits wanted to play the worse the level of talent became leading to even more losses and even more conflict. Smith had to go. I hope Cal doesn’t find himself in the same boat. I really, really do. I don’t think he will but coaching at UK is different than coaching anywhere else. You have to be the big dog on the block to get the big egos to fall in behind you and your system. If not, well just look at some of the talent Smith had and look at how badly they ended up playing. He had Rondo and Sparks on the same team but they lost 13 games. Crawford was on that team too along with Bradley and Morris. No way that team should have lost that many games but selfish play is not a winning way to play.

    I won’t criticize this team any more. They had some issues I think they couldn’t do much about. And it’s definitely wrong to criticize in that situation.

    1. Karen Sprinkle

      Respectfully, I don’t think this will derail the Calipari Express in any way. Cal can, and I expect will, use this team as a tangible example of what happens when you come in and disregard coaching and fail to put in time outside of practice to improve your game, much as he uses the example of last year’s extraordinary team for what happens when you sublimate your own wants and needs for team success.

      In 2009, North Carolina won the national championship and in 2010 did not get an invitation to the NCAA tournament and lost in the NIT finals. I don’t think that experience hurt Carolina’s recruiting much if at all.

      As with all things, we’ll have to wait and see if this is a recurring problem, but I suspect that it will not be.

    2. Kokamo Joe

      I don’t know how the ego problem can be avoided. Suppose that you or I had the skill to be identified in middle school and groomed for the NBA the way most of the players that we are getting. Suppose we had coaches salivating over us for years and yes, having some hint that certain befifits will come their way if they come to their schools. Supposed we went to a high school whose very purpose was to recruit and train the country’s top kids. Suppose that coaches began to offer us full college scholarships by the 9th grade. Suppose John Calipari came calling and we knew that he claimed that getting players was more important than winning national championships. I don’t care how good and decent our recruits are, they have been trained to have egos and the ambition to stay in college as little time as possible and then move on to the pros. So Calipari gets these kids and now there are no UK players who have had the UK experience? How can they know what to expect and how to fit in? Calipari then has to try to mold them into a unit and I expect in some cases teach them the fundamentals of the game. It is tough. It will work most of the time, but not all the time.

      1. Karen Sprinkle

        A healthy ego can be a good thing. It makes you confident. Thinking you hung the moon and not taking advice from someone who knows more than you not so much.

  4. hoffmeyer

    King, Orlando Smith applied for the Georgia Tech Head Basketball Coaching jpob the first year he was the Head Coach for UK I never had full faith in him after that and was glad he got the Minnesota job.

  5. Lori Metcalf

    I think recruits who have watched this group of players — I’m not calling them a team any more — probably saw the same things we all saw. Now they’ve had an example of doing it the right way (last year) and the wrong way (this year). When they come in, I have a feeling we’ll see good effort right away and they will be more likely to listen to the coaching staff. The memory of the 2012-13 season will be a fleeting blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. Prospects in future recruiting classes will believe more in the coaches than ever, I think.

  6. JKM$CAT

    we are what our record says we are, plain and simple!! bad losses sealed our fate (UGA, Tex AM, Baylor, Vandy etc.)

  7. JKM$CAT

    a good friend of mine who traveled with the team on a couple of road trips told me this group of young men had no team chemistry whatsoever. They all kept to themselves with hardly no interaction other than on the court. That is a recipe for an unsuccessful team

  8. bryan mc

    As a avid catt fan i think it’s the right call that we didn’t make it in to the dance. This team is young just did’nt get the job done, but i think it will benefit us in the long run down the road for next year because nobody is nba ready except Noel in which i think he’ll be back.

  9. Anonymous

    What the head of the committee said about road record is a lie. Missouri is in and their road record is 2-9. Is UKs road record 2-9. We beat Mizzou. Missouri lost to U of L by 21 points … at home. We lost to U of L by 3 at U of L. Middle Tenn is in. They beat 1 … count them 1… top 100 team all year. Their only top 100 win was against Ole Miss who according to the committee had to win the whole SEC tourneconstant y to get in. They beat WKU (a 16 seed with a 20-15 record) by 8. They lost to Belmont on the road by 15. Pretty impressive resume, don’t you think? The committee had already decided (based on national media coverage) not to include UK before the SEC Tourney even started. They had a complete bias this year against Power conferences. That’s why good teams like UT and Ala were left out in favor of some of the crappy teams they put in like Middle Tenn. Does anyone really believe playing Ark State or Troy on the road is as difficult as playing UT in Knoxville or Arkansas at Fayetteville. I think this was the worst job of seeding by the committee from top to bottom in a long time and the results will prove that out. Here is a direct quote from the NY Times
    “said Mike Bobinski, chairman of the selection committee. “I think it’s great for college basketball when, in the committee’s evaluation, there are good teams spread all around the country in a variety of different settings and leagues. That’s a positive, as far as we’re concerned.”
    Based on that quote the committee purposely passed on the UKs, UTs, Ala, Southern Miss, Virginias in favor of the MTSUs and St Marys. (By the way MTSU lost to FIU in their conference tournament ; Ala lost to Fla and UT lost to Ala.; big difference in competition) A complete bias on their part in the name of “good teams spread all around the country in a variety of different settings and leagues” Good luck with your TV ratings using that idea. Im sure everyone will tune in to see MTSU vs St Marys play

    1. Larry Pup

      I said basically the same thing last night. There will be teams in this ncaa tournament that we will look at and say confidently that we did as much as they did and more, but were denied. If Missouri belongs in the big dance, UK does too. That is just one example. There are plenty others that you have indicated. Yeah, I think there was a conspiracy against UK, you bet!

    2. Karen Sprinkle

      The committee looked at, by their own admission, the last 8 regular season games after Nerlens went down. Why? Because Nerlens would not be playing for the Cats in the tournament due to his injury. What was our record for that part of the season? Two pretty good home wins against NCAA tourney teams, but zero road wins. ZERO. And the road losses that we had were double digit losses. You mentioned Missouri, and stated that they lost games on the road. True, but with the exception of the Florida and Mississippi games, the losses were by less than 5 points.

      I am not happy either, but don’t blame the committee when UK controlled its own fate and lost to a team with a losing overall record by double digits at a neutral site where the UK fans were in a very large majority.

      It is what it is. Hopefully, the team takes this as an opportunity to get it together and be the team that they had the talent to be. I will continue to support this team and its players until the last buzzer sounds.

      1. Larry Pup

        Karen, I hear what you are saying, but I don’t agree. UK beat Missouri without our best player. Yeah we stunk up some games, but I say the committee must look at the whole body of work for the entire year. We finished second in the sec regular season. That don’t count for anything? UK had some impressive wins and accomplishments as compared to other teams that got in. Come on!!!

        1. Larry Pup

          I mean I don’t agree with their rationale.

        2. Karen Sprinkle

          Whenever a key player gets hurt late in the year, it always affects the NCAA committee’s decision. Is that fair? I have mixed emotions about that. In UK’s case, Nerlens got hurt early enough that they could evaluate how UK played without him and frankly, in games away from Rupp Arena, they played badly.
          The committee is made up of individuals, not computers. Humans can always differ on the “eye test.” I love my Cats, and support them to the end, but you have to admit that the Cats did not pass the eye test due to multiple double digit losses away from Rupp Arena by the team that would be playing in the NCAA tournament, were we to get in. Yes, we beat Missouri and Florida without our best player, but that was at Rupp Arena.

          I think we’re just gonna have to agree to disagree on this, Larry.

  10. Pacman

    Last post was by me but listed as anonymous because I am still so frustrated I forgot to include my posting information. One more point about the bias of the committee agaist power conferences and specifically the SEC. This is the first time in 39 years that UK. UT and Ala. were left out of the NCAA Tournament field. UK finished 2nd in the SEC; Ala finished 4th and UT finished 5th. Does anyone believe MTSU or LaSalle could have finished 2nd in the SEC? Even if the SEC is weak this year it is more difficult than the competitive level of the Sunbelt or the Atlantic 10?

    1. Love SEC

      Well said – I agree with all of your comments.

  11. Texascat

    Not surprised with what selection committee did. I do believe they singled out the SEC and Kentucky in particular. Nerlens being out made it easier for them to explain, however when I saw California and Oklahoma get in with equal or less bodies of work, I had hope we would still get in.

    In the past the committee has said it doesn’t consider things like margin of loss (or victory), what time of year games were played, etc. For a team to finish 2nd in a power conference outright, be defending NCAA champions and have competitive losses to overall #1 seed Louisville and #2 seed Duke, I didn’t think blowouts to Tennessee and Vandy would out-weigh all that. Plus, lesser regular seasons have seen Kentucky in the tournament with people howling of NCAA pro-Kentucky bias (see 1985, 1987 and 2008 Kentucky teams that got in).

    They do factor in injuries (Cincinnati would have been overall #1 seed the year that Kenyon Martin was injured in conference tournament) and I agree we are not the same team with Noel out.

    1. larryvaught

      As I said for months, if UK was on the bubble, Cats would be out. Just too many looking for reason to jab Cal

      1. Larry Pup

        Larry you got that right. There is no doubt in my mind. Texascat, you could not be more on target. I agree with you.

      2. Anonymous

        I agree with the Cal-jabbing Larry. If its ever close my money is on the NCAA leaving his team out.

  12. TrueBlueJohn

    To be a Dookie, Jay Bilas is probably the most unbiased commentator out there, and he has expressed many of the same arguments that BBN has voiced. The one thing that he has been consistent in saying since Sunday evening is that always in the past, the committee has asked “Who have you played and who have you beaten?” Now he says, all of a sudden it is “Who have you played and who have you lost to?”

    I think that the most telling stat that Bilas has been pointing out is that the last three teams in have a total of 4 wins against the RPI top 50. The Cats have 4. Virginia has a right to gripe on the same issue. They are probably more worthy of a bid than the Cats.

  13. krautdog

    Anonymous-YOU ABSOLUTELY NAILED IT! I realize that we were not going very far anyway but this is just another amazing example of NCAA(Mark Emmarts) discrimination against the UK basketball program.
    Interesting…..all the SEC teams that made the Big Dance lost to UK!
    Interesting…..UK was the ONLY major conference regular season runner-up that wasn’t selected!

  14. Pacman

    Larry, I would guess that a second place regular season power conference team has never been left out of the field since it expanded to 64. What do you think?

    1. larryvaught

      Probably not Pacman, but remember UK actually tied for second with Alabama and Ole Miss

  15. Pacman

    Yes, but we won the tiebreaker against both those teams. Also Ole Miss had to win the tournament to get in and Ala did not get in. I heard the head of the committee say that Ole Miss would not have gotten in unless they made the finals or won the tournament. He also said Ky was already out unless they made it to the finals or won it all. That is a ridiculous statement to make about either # 2 team (tied) in one of the top 6 Power Conferences when you see who did get in. Thanks for the response

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