I’m Ethan Lee. Most of y’all know that, but some of you may not. I also happen to be a senior at Mississippi State University. I’m hoping that most of y’all didn’t know that until now because that’d be a little odd.
I’ve seen a lot of cool things in my time here in Starkville.
The football team became #1 in the nation during my sophomore year. The baseball team won the SEC a year ago and had some considerable success in my four years here. The women’s basketball team made a historic run last season and is primed to make another one this year. And that’s just a short list among a ton of success from other sports on campus such as the softball team and the track and field folks.
But I’ve never seen a winning season from the men’s basketball team.
14-19 in 2013 to 2014 during the second year of Rick Ray. 13-19 in 2014 through 2015 in Ray’s third and final season. 14-17 in Ben Howland’s first year, last year. And now, 16-16 this season.
Not one winning record.
I’ve sat in the Hump at games where I had an entire section of seats to myself, and though I was almost alone in the empty coliseum, I was far from being the only fan in a section where there were no other fans.
And because the team wasn’t winning, fans didn’t show up. And the Hump has remained empty.
There’s been progress, sure. I don’t mean to say that there hasn’t. This team that just wrapped up their season has an immense amount of talent. And guys like IJ Ready, a senior that also hasn’t seen a winning season, gave plenty for Mississippi State, sticking it out for the Maroon and White no matter what. And I’m thankful for players like Ready. Give thanks for IJ, as my friend Chief Dragon Canoe would say.
But I’m ready for wins too. I like seeing wins.
Not that I can force them to happen. I’m just a fan and a writer and a senior and stuff. I can’t do anything. That’s the team’s thing. They can make wins happen. I just have to sit back and watch.
Was sitting back and watching disappointing at times? Yeah. I think anybody that has watched Mississippi State basketball these past few years would openly acknowledge how painful these seasons have been. I’m numb to not having a winning record, in all honesty.
But I’m also optimistic about what next year may hold. If Ben Howland’s history is any indicator, we should be primed for a considerably better season next year. I’d love to see this team make a run to the tournament and for fans to flock back to the Hump.
Even if MSU isn’t hugely successful next season, they should have a winning season and, at minimum a berth in the NIT. I’d accept that. I’d be happy with that.
Mostly because I’ve never seen a winning season as a Mississippi State student.