Jarred Vanderbilt, one of Kentucky’s key contributors down the stretch of the regular season, sustained an injury in practice Tuesday.
UK said that Vanderbilt was not expected to practice Wednesday and his status for the Southeastern Conference Tournament should be considered day-to-day.
UK did not explain the nature of the injury.
Coincidentally, the injury came as Kentucky turned up the intensity of practices this week. After UK lost at Florida on Saturday, Coach John Calipari second-guessed his decision to suspend the routine of making scrimmaging part of the practice routine. He suggested that he feared over-taxing the players with only two days between games.
Instead, Calipari said he suspected the move to not scrimmage took the competitive edge off some players.
Vanderbilt has a history of foot and ankle injuries dating back to high school. Because of a foot injury, he did not play in a game until Kentucky faced South Carolina on Jan. 16.
Vanderbilt has made up for lost time. He’s UK’s leading rebounder despite ranking outside the top five in minutes played. His relentless play has caused Calipari and Missouri Coach Cuonzo Martin to liken him to Dennis Rodman.
Should Vanderbilt’s injury linger into this weekend, how might that affect the way the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee views Kentucky when forming its bracket?
Committee chair Bruce Rasmussen addressed that topic during a news conference Wednesday.
“Player and coach availability is taken into consideration by the committee in the season-long team evaluation process,” Rasmussen said. “Every availability situation is unique and considered as such in evaluating a team roster for March.
“It’s important to stress that the results of every Division I game on a team’s schedule is considered by the committee, and that no team results are dismissed.”
But how does the committee judge a team that can be significantly different with or without a particular player?
“We don’t try to project how a team will do with or without players,” Rasmussen explained. “We try to look at what they’ve done over an entire year and make a decision based on that.”
Rasmussen specifically addressed the case of Notre Dame, which played without star Bonzi Colson for a 15-game stretch during the heart of the season. The Irish are considered a bubble team.
“There are many teams that have had injuries, players that either are not going to be available or players that are available that haven’t been for a while. Clearly, the Bonzi Colson situation is unique ... and it will be a discussion item.”