Tom Penders: UNC Coach Hubert Davis Should Have Accepted NIT Bid

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Quarterfinals - Virginia vs North Carolina

A Hall of Fame coach called the North Carolina men’s basketball team arrogant.

Others have used more colorful verbiage.

How should one describe the Tar Heels’ lack of competitive sportsmanship for turning their blue-blood backs on the NIT?

Arrogant should be among the most generous.

North Carolina Makes Dubious History

The Tar Heels, who lost in the 2022 national championship game, devolved from the preseason No. 1 team to failing to make the NCAA Tournament field, which was announced Sunday.

They became the first squad since 1985 to earn that distinction.

How did second-year coach Hubert Davis respond?

Arrogantly, former coach Tom Penders said.

By declining an invitation to the NIT, Davis turned his back on an opportunity for the Tar Heels to engage in extra practices and experience a tournament atmosphere to prepare for 2023-24.

The players could have used the extra work.

UNC finished 20-13, but with injury concerns and under-performing starters, it struggled with shot selection and an inability to close out games against quality opponents. The Tar Heels went 1-9 versus Quadrant I foes.

Poor shooting and second-half chokes also describe another program that is accustomed to being part of the NCAA tourney, Michigan. The Wolverines, however, stood up and grabbed the opportunity to compete. They will host Toledo in the opening round Tuesday.

By taking the easy way out, the Tar Heels, who’ve appeared in 44 of the past 47 NCAA Tournaments, will be available to sit back and relax.

Tom Penders: ‘Rarely Played Hard And Together’

The Tar Heels, who missed the field despite winning 20 games for the first time in program history, can point to several setbacks throughout the season.

  • The quarterfinal loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament.
  • The four-overtime loss to top-seeded Alabama.
  • The nagging injuries.

Penders didn’t hold back, tweeting the Tar Heels “rarely played hard and together,” targeting the fault on “the coaching staff.”

He would know. In 33 seasons as a Div. I coach, including stops at Texas, George Washington and Houston, Penders went 649-437.

Specifically, he called out Davis for turning down a chance to compete for a title. Any title.

Can you imagine late UNC coach Dean Smith making the same decision?

Pure “arrogance.”

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