The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs set to bid seniors farewell

Craig Sword, Gavin Ware, and Fred Thomas will take the court for the last time against Auburn on Saturday. These seniors, along with Travis Daniels and Johnny Zuppardo, who both transferred later in their careers, will be honored on senior day.

Mississippi State Basketball Head Coach Ben Howland said he was proud of how the seniors have perfomed this year.

“Travis is playing the toughest he has ever played, Chicken (Sword) is playing good at both ends of the floor, Gavin is our best post player,” Howland said. “Fred had his best game last Saturday and Johnny has given us some important minutes.”

When looking at this year’s senior class, all everyone points to is a win loss total. While they are 50-76 over the last four years, to truly see this class’ value one has to look beyond win loss totals.  

Between coaching changes, roster turnover and injuries, there was never any continuity. The trio of Ware, Thomas and Sword were recruited by Rick Stansbury, played three years under Rick Ray, and will now finish out their career under Howland. Between injuries, disciplinary issues and multiple transfers, there has been constant roster turnover over the years. This roster turnover has prevented them from forming any type of team chemistry.

 Through all the challenges the trio never left, even though they had the option to jump ship and transfer to a more stable, more successful school. However, they made the decision to stay at MSU and stick out a transitional period in MSU basketball history. 

Sword said he never thought about leaving. 

“I always knew I was coming here and from the first time here I knew I was never leaving,” Sword said. “I would never change anything that has happened.”

Sword also said he was happy the senior class stuck it out through the adversity.

“We came here with a big job and we stayed together,” he said. “Nobody ever left. We’ve just been here for each other.” 

They may not have won many games but they have laid a foundation for the future of MSU basketball.

A foundation of great work ethic, playing hard and never giving up. Through the years this team has never quit in the middle of a game. No matter how much they were down, they would play hard to the final whistle. This foundation is one for the future, and while they laid the foundation they will not be around to reap the benefits. 

Part of laying that foundation has been preparing true freshman Malik Newman, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Aric Holman.

Newman said the seniors showed younger players  what it takes to get better.

 “The seniors did a terrific job this year of leading the way,” Newman said. “They just did a great job of providing leadership for the team.”

Even with all the excitement surrounding Newman and the emergence of Weatherspoon, the two leading scorers for MSU this season have been Gavin Ware, at 15.4 points a game, and Craig Sword, at 12.8 points a game. They have represented MSU in the best way on and off the court, doing so even in front of scarce crowds at the Hump.

So, with tomorrow being the last time this class dons the Maroon and White,  Bulldog faithful should pack the Hump and send this senior class out on a high note. The game will tip Saturday at 1:30pm. 

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Bulldogs set to bid seniors farewell