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Today in MSU History: Gary Ervin Returns to The Hump

After leaving Mississippi State for Arkansas, Gary Ervin did not feel the Valentines Day love in Starkville during his return to Mississippi State.

Graham Denholm

February 14, 2007

Aside from Renardo Sidney, Gary Ervin was as polarizing of a player as we've seen at State.  A highly-recruited, aggressive point guard, Ervin lived for fast breaks.  He could drive to the goal and would often draw a foul or give you a highlight finish.  But just as often, his efforts resulted in a senseless turnover.  As a freshman playing behind senior captain Timmy Bowers, his flaws could be hidden.  But 2005 was Ervin's show, and expectations were high.

Ervin's fast-paced style didn't mesh well with our five seniors (Roberts, Frazier, Power, Harper, and Campbell), and we struggled in SEC play, especially when Winsome went down with a broken foot.  Ervin's penchant for turnovers often resulted in jeers from the crowd, and he found himself on the bench late in close games.  Ervin was visibly upset, and there was a rumor that he went to Dudy Noble after a game and cried because he got pulled.

Stansbury granted Ervin's release after 2005 and allowed him to transfer to another SEC school.  Ervin's choice was Arkansas, and when the 2007 schedule was released, everyone circled the date of his first return to The Hump.  Wednesday, February 14th.  Valentine's Day.

Students lined up early outside The Hump, some with signs reminding Ervin of how unwelcome he was in Starkville.  Whenever he touched the ball, he was booed.  If he missed a layup, people cheered.  Whenever he came near the student section, the heckling got louder.  And this was just during pre-game warmups.  The real action was still an hour away.

Ervin didn't start the game, but still played 20 minutes off the bench.  State took an early lead and stretched it to 12 at halftime.  The crowd fed off the energy of the pending blowout and Ervin couldn't handle the pressure, finishing scoreless while shooting 0-4 from the field.  With 12 minutes left in the game, MSU was up by 2 dozen and cruised to an 84-60 victory.

I think Ervin would've been better suited with the guard-heavy 2006 and 2007 MSU teams featuring Rhodes, Slater, the Delks, Stewart, and Hansbrough, as those teams were built more for transition.  But his departure allowed us to sign Jamont Gordon, who turned out to be pretty good, as well.

People often complain about quality players that transferred during the Stansbury era, but this was one that worked to our benefit.

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