Bobcats name Fish men's basketball coach

2014-04-01T16:30:00Z 2014-04-02T00:09:07Z Bobcats name Fish men's basketball coachBy GREG RACHAC grachac@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Brian Fish built a powerful résumé in more than two decades as an assistant coach. Now he gets the chance to revive struggling Montana State.

The Bobcats officially announced Fish as their new men's basketball coach on Tuesday. Fish comes to MSU from Oregon where he served as an assistant the past four years under coach Dana Altman.

Fish becomes the 22nd coach in Bobcats history. He will be introduced during a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Leigh Lounge in the Strand Union Building on campus in Bozeman.

Fields told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Fish was hired from a pool of 10 candidates.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” Fish said in a release from the Bobcats’ sports information office. “I’m very excited and feel really good that an athletic director such as Peter Fields and Montana State University believes in me and is trusting me with its basketball program.”

Fish replaces Brad Huse, who stepped down on March 18 after eight years as coach. The Bobcats went 107-134 overall (.443) and 64-72 in conference games (.470) under Huse, including a 14-17 record in the 2013-14 season with a 9-11 mark in the league.

“I knew my top candidate had to be a person who had worked at programs that didn’t have a big advantage in resources, and also at programs that weren’t enjoying great success when he arrived on the staff," Field said. "Brian rose to the top in that regard, and my connection with him is going to be very important because we will have to work together to achieve the success that we both want.”

Fish spent 13 seasons altogether under Altman in stints at Oregon, Creighton and Marshall. Overall, Fish has 24 years of Division I coaching experience. Seven programs that Fish has been associated with as either a player or coach have reached the NCAA tournament.

The Bobcats have not played in the NCAA tournament since 1996.

Fish also spent time as an associate head coach under Billings native Brad Holland at San Diego, and also served as an assistant on Billy Tubbs’ staff at TCU.

“I learned a great deal about coaching from coach Altman,” said Fish, who helped Oregon win 96 games. “A great deal about how to develop a team and how to bring a team along. In my six years with Billy Tubbs I learned a totally different style of basketball. We won a lot of games and I learned how to play up-tempo, and I learned a lot of things just riding in a car with him going to see a recruit.

“Brad Holland was a great guy to work for and a great people person. He’s a very good coach, but was also very good at getting to know people and pushing the buttons to get the best out of them.

“Brad was born in Montana, and raved all the time to me about how proud he was to be from here. His uncles came out to San Diego once a year to see a game, and the pride he had in being from Montana is something I’ll never forget.”

Fish's hiring was first reported by ESPN.com on Monday. 

Fish inherits an MSU team that will bring back guard and third-leading scorer Marcus Colbert, as well as guards Michael Dison and Stephan Holm. Forward Danny Robison, a Billings West product, is also in the mix, as is forward Terrell Brown. 

“All of my research kept coming back to the potential of the basketball program and the excellence of the university,” Fish said. “The fans have a great love for the Bobcats. What the school has done with the football program, getting 19,000 fans to games, is something that attracted me because it’s similar to when we took over at Oregon.

"Coach (Chip) Kelly had that football program No. 1 in the country and we kind of drafted off of that while we built our program. The way coach (Rob) Ash has the football team playing here, with the great crowds and the love of that team, I want to do the same thing we did at Oregon.”

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