BOZEMAN — Though Tori Martell is unfamiliar with the movie “Hoosiers,” she will soon learn the rims in Hinkle Fieldhouse are 10 feet high — just like in Bozeman.
The Montana State senior departs for Indianapolis on Tuesday and will be one of eight players on the Rocket Mortgage Women’s 3-Point Championship roster for the 32nd annual State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on Thursday in the city hosting this year’s men’s NCAA Tournament.
The gym on the campus of Butler University was the site of the movie’s championship game, loosely based on a true story, and will also be the location of Martell’s last opportunity to represent the Bobcats on a basketball court.
The rest of the field has yet to be released, but the competition will air live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s a great honor to go shoot on national television,” Martell said. “Obviously getting to shoot on ESPN is going to be really, really cool.”
Martell finished her career with 211 3-pointers, which is the third-most at MSU. She made 41.3% of her attempts from long range this season, the sixth-best mark for a single season at the school and 30th in Division I this year. Her 69 makes this season ranked sixth in school history and 19th nationally.
Martell said she and the team found out about her invitation to the event after the team’s regular-season finale at Sacramento State. She has spent the past few weeks preparing with coaches for the intricacies of the event.
“It’s definitely a lot harder shooting off the rack than having a perfect pass straight to my pocket,” Martell said. “It definitely takes more time grabbing each ball off the rack separately. And it is pretty tiring. I just got done doing it (on Monday afternoon), and I was out of breath quite a bit doing it. And your legs get a little tired going from spot to spot.”
On Wednesday evening, Martell and the other participants will have pre-production interviews with ESPN and then a short practice time. On Thursday morning, the players will have a full hour of shooting practice to prepare for the night’s event. There is also a men’s 3-point competition and a dunk contest during the ESPN2 broadcast.
Despite having to grab basketballs off the racks at five different spots around the arc, Martell said she is hoping her natural shooting rhythm comes out during the contest.
“I always focus on my follow through,” she said. “My dad still yells from the stands as a college player, ‘Hold your follow through.’ And that’s always been my emphasis with my shot.”
As a COVID-19 precaution, a strict bubble of hotels and playing sites has been created for the teams participating in the men’s NCAA Tournament in the Indianapolis area. The strict protocols of the setup have limited players and coaches from going many places beyond their hotel rooms and various gyms to practice or play.
Martell said she will be tested for COVID-19 upon her arrival, but she had little other information about what to expect regarding safety guidelines.
“I’m not sure what the protocols are going to look like or if we’ll have to stay in our rooms until we shoot or if we can mingle with the other players or not,” she said. “But I guess I’ll see when I get there.”
As a senior, Martell had the option of returning to school for another season because of an extra year of eligibility offered to all athletes as a result of the pandemic.
She said she “contemplated it quite a bit actually,” but ultimately decided it wouldn’t make much sense to delay her entry into the nursing field. That being the case, Thursday will be her final time to showcase her shooting stroke as a Bobcat.
“This last opportunity to get to wear a Montana State jersey is really special,” she said, “and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Parker Cotton can be reached at email@example.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @ByParkerCotton.