MSU’s Fish adds Crandell to coaching staff

BOZEMAN — Kenya Crandell has spent only a few fleeting days in Bozeman, but joining Brian Fish’s first Montana State coaching staff gives the school’s newest assistant coach the feeling that he is returning to where he belongs.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to work with Coach Fish,” Crandell said upon officially joining the staff Thursday. He has spent the last two seasons in basketball operations at Oregon, where Fish worked as an assistant the past four seasons. “This is his first opportunity as a head coach, and I’ve known him for a long time and respect him as a coach and as a recruiter. For me, I’m very excited to get back on the floor and coach, which is what I love to do.”

Fish is also excited to bring Crandell onto his initial Bobcat staff. “Kenya has been in the Coach (Dana) Altman family for about 10 years and he worked with us the last two years at Oregon,” Fish said. “I’ve always respected his work ethic, knowledge of the game of basketball, and ability to put the athlete first, and I knew if I got a (head coaching) job he’d be a great addition to a staff.”

In addition to the comfort of returning to on-floor coaching, Crandell finds familiarity in the Big Sky Conference. Before his time at Oregon he spent four years (2008-12) at Southern Utah before the Thunderbirds joined the league, and the year before was at Sacramento State (2007-08) for a season. Crandell was also assistant and associate head coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in his hometown (2001-07), and was an assistant at Northern Colorado (2000-01).

Fish appreciates the opportunity to hire a coach with ties to several Big Sky schools. “He’s been in the Big Sky and has worked at a number of schools in the league, so he knows the talent and type of player it takes to compete.”

Crandell’s coaching career began at his alma mater, Nebraska-Kearney, as a graduate assistant from 1997-2000. He previously had enjoyed an impressive career as a Loper point guard and remains the school’s career assists record-holder (525) and is second in school history in steals (173). His 1,119 career points is among the top 20 marks in UNK history, and he earned team MVP honors and served as captain as a senior.

For his part, Crandell appreciates the opportunity to help Fish begin building the Bobcat program. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to work alongside Coach Fish,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for him, and (the job is) in a wonderful league. There is tremendous competition in the Big Sky with schools like Weber State and Montana, and I think Coach Fish will do a tremendous job competing in that league. He’s very enthusiastic for the game, has great passion, and works very well with kids. He has infectious energy and relates to people very well. He will bring an exciting style and some good young men to that community.”

Fish indicated he is unlikely to complete his initial Bobcat coaching staff for another couple of weeks.

— MSU Sports Information 

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