One player that got a second chance was hurt that University of Arkansas head coach Stan Heath was fired, but another who didn't play much late in the year didn't exactly hold back his feelings.
Gary Ervin, the Razorbacks' junior point guard transfer from Mississippi State, said he was really upset about the news that Heath would not be retained.
"I can't talk for the whole team as a leader, but I know as far as myself, Coach Heath was a father figure to me," Ervin said. "I got another opportunity to play and I tried to make the best out of it. I wish he was still here with us."
Ervin and redshirt junior Hunter were a couple of players that showed up at Bud Walton Arena for a team meeting only to be summoned to the coach's house because the large media gathering on hand at the arena.
"It puts me in a tough situation," Ervin said. "The coaching staff at Arkansas gave me a chance to move from a difficult situation and to play basketball again. Now I am stuck on the same page of being in a difficult situation again in my final year of playing college basketball."
UA star freshman Patrick Beverley was still in his hometown of Chicago - where he went for spring break last week and planned to return to Fayetteville in a couple of days per his mom Lisa.
Ervin said the Razorbacks thought they had secure Heath's future as the coach with a late-season run that included five straight wins to grab a second straight NCAA Tournament berth.
They did that with speculation swirling about their coach's job.
"We tried not to pay attention," Ervin said. "They told us that if we win games that it would be okay. We felt that we won games, but things still didn't go as expected….It made it hard as we were playing at the end of the season, but we finally found out what is going on with our coaching staff. It is a tough feeling."
Redshirt junior forward Vincent Hunter, whose playing time lagged as the season went along, said he felt it was time for a change.
"For me, I really didn't play as much as I wanted to play," Hunter said. "I deserve more than zero minutes a game, you know. That kind of turned me off a little bit on Coach Heath. When I heard the news, I just thought that I didn't care if he got fired or not."
The disgruntled Hunter said he figured this was how it was going to go down.
"I really wasn't surprised at all," Heath said. "There was a lot of stuff going around about him losing his job. I wish him and his family well. But I really don't want to have anything to do with him anymore."
Hunter had plans to transfer if Heath had been retained.
"I'm kind of excited, but I still have to weigh my options about being here," Hunter said. " I just have to take it one day at a time."
Heath said that he was told lagging season ticket sales and lagging fan enthusiasm were the reasons he was being let go.
"At the beginning of the season, we were starting to get a lot of people into the arena, but then we lost ballgames and attendance kind of subtracted," Ervin said. "We just want people to come into our environment and have a tough time playing. We just want to get back to doing some of the things the University of Arkansas has been doing before we got here."
Ervin was asked if he thought his team underachieved this season.
"We had a brand new team and you can say we underachieved, but we came together as a team at the right time and won some ballgames to get into the NCAA," Ervin said. "We felt we were a better team than we showed. We felt we were going to win the SEC, but it didn't go as expected."
He has heard the name of Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillipsie and a few others mentioned as a possible replacement.
"Being a fan of college basketball, I've been watching the games and been hearing some things about the coaches they are trying to get," Ervin said. "Right now I am just waiting to see what is going on. At the same time, I am still hurting for him."
What kind of coach would he like for Arkansas to replace Heath with?
"I don't think I am looking for anything except the same kind of things from Coach Heath," Ervin said. "The main thing is whoever is going to be our coach, we need to go out there and win some ballgames. That is the main thing. Just have some fun and just continue to do some things that we did at the end of the season to make us a team to watch."
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