BOZEMAN — Montana State’s Brian Fish has seen a lot of great shooters come and go in a coaching career that dates back to 1989. But Fish contends that Tyler Hall is as good as anyone else he’s seen.
“He’s at the top of that list of guys who can make it, guarded or unguarded,” Fish said Tuesday following an afternoon practice session. “I don’t think people understand how hard teams guard him and what they throw at him, and yet he still gets shots down.”
Hall, a senior guard from Rock Island, Illinois, achieved another milestone last week when he became the 18th player in Division I history to make 400 3-pointers, a list that includes ex-college stars like J.J. Redick and Stephen Curry.
The NCAA officially adopted the 3-point shot in 1986.
Hall enters Saturday’s road game against rival Montana with an even 400 3s, tied for 15th-most in history with Gerry McNamara, who played at Syracuse from 2003-06.
Hall is one of three active players in the 400 Club, along with Wofford’s Fletcher Magee and Campbell’s Chris Clemons.
“It’s pretty special,” said Harald Frey, Hall’s backcourt mate. “He’s one of only a handful of guys to be able to do that. And it just speaks to the guy he is, too.
“It never gets in his head. He’s been in the spotlight for four years now and never once has he changed. He’s always been a team-first kind of guy, a great teammate and a great, great friend. He really deserves it.”
Joining the 400 Club was the third watershed moment of the season for Hall: In December he surpassed MSU hall of famer Larry Chanay to become the Bobcats’ all-time scoring leader, and six weeks later passed former Eastern Washington standout Bogdan Bliznyuk as the top scorer in the history of the Big Sky Conference.
“You’re going to sit around in a couple months and look at his career and the numbers are going to be just astounding and so impressive,” Fish said. “To knock 400 3s down, that’s a phenomenal career. Hopefully he makes another 50 or 60 before he's done."
Of course, what’s missing from Hall’s résumé is what he’s craved the most — consistent team success. But things have turned a bit this season.
Entering Montana State’s 7 p.m. game Saturday night against the Griz, the Bobcats are in the No. 4 spot in the Big Sky standings as they’ve won five of their past seven games.
The league’s top five get first-round byes for the postseason tournament in Boise, Idaho, in March.
The Cats are 9-6 in conference games, and are in search of their second winning season within the league since Fish took over the program before the 2014-15 season. They haven’t won a Big Sky tournament game since 2009.
MSU hasn’t won at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula in the Hall/Fish era. They’ve only beaten UM together once, in fact. Montana (19-6, 12-2) is No. 1 in the league standings. The Griz beat the Bobcats 83-78 in Bozeman on Feb. 2.
“They’ve a veteran team. They’ve got very good players and they’re very well-coached. They understand the game is 40 minutes,” Fish said.
“Certainly right now, as anybody would tell you, they’re the best team in the league and they’re playing that well and they’re owning up to that. When you watch it on tape it’s impressive to see because they’re guarding, they’re rebounding, they’re doing all the things you’ve got to do to be a good basketball team.”
Continuing to cope
Fish rejoined the Bobcats on Tuesday after spending time in Omaha, Nebraska, for the funeral of his 29-year-old daughter, Caryssa.
Caryssa Fish died in Florida on Feb. 8. MSU’s fifth-year coach said he and his family continue to press on despite their grief.
“The support that we’ve received from everybody — the fans, the friends, the teams, the coaches in our league — everybody’s been incredible about reaching out. It’s helped,” Fish said. “At the end of the day you lean on your friends because you’ve had your most prized possession taken away from you.
“I’m sure we’ve got a lot of dark days ahead of us and there’s things that we’ve got to do to get through this, but the support from everybody has been unimaginable. We’re very appreciative of that. But we’ve got some tough days ahead.”