Tyler Chandler knows good basketball when he sees it. He saw it every day when he played for Northwest Community College, and he saw it during his recruitment to Montana State University-Northern.
Now, Chandler is once again seeing it every day, because, as a Light, he’s a part of it.
The senior guard from Evanston, Wyoming, came to Northern last fall, after playing for former Light Brian Erickson at Northwest for two seasons.
“Coach Erickson being a former Light, he played for coach (Shawn) Huse,” Chandler said. “That played a big role in me coming here. They know each other well. He was able to be honest with coach Huse about what type of player I was and what type of student-athlete I was. So that helped a lot. And Northern’s system was a really good fit for me, and the adjustments off the court weren’t a big deal either. I came here from the same size town, same kind of weather. So, for me, the transition was an easy one.”
And a good one.
In Chandler, Northern got what it always wants to have — a deadly shooter from anywhere on the floor and a true, team-first guy. As a junior, Chandler came off the bench to average nine points per game, and in his senior season, he’s averaging six points per game, while making a team-high 28 3-pointers. Chandler is also providing the senior leadership that MSU-N needs as it goes through the rigorous Frontier Conference.
But a shooter isn’t the only thing the Lights got in Chandler. They also got a player who has seen the best of collegiate basketball up close. Last year, Chandler’s Northwest squad won its regional championship and advanced all the way to the NJCAA Elite 8. Not only that, but his team also had NBA lottery prospect Chris Boucher playing center. Boucher now plays for the Oregon Ducks and is considered one of the best players in all of NCAA Division I basketball.
“It was an experience being on a team like that,” Chandler said. “I saw some of those guys do things on a basketball court that I never thought I’d see, and that I certainly can’t do. So it was awesome. We had two guys who are now in (NCAA) DII, and then of course, we had Chris (Boucher), who’s playing at Oregon and is a potential NBA guy.
“It was great to play like that, and now, I’m getting to play with another center a lot like him,” Chandler added. “Because I see things in Ryan (Reeves) that I saw in Chris. Maybe not quite on Chris’ level, but Ryan has so much potential and he’s doing some amazing things, so it’s fun to be playing with another guy that has that ability.”
And Chandler is also having fun playing for a Lights squad that is off to one of its best starts in a decade. And a team that’s now coming home for six straight Frontier games. The Havre Daily News sat down with Chandler for five questions ahead of this week’s home games against Rocky Mountain College and nationally ranked UM-Western.
HDN: What's led to the great start you guys are off to this season?
Chandler: "We have great chemistry off the court. Probably a little bit better than last year. And that's helped us on the court. We just play really well together. There's a lot of unselfishness on this team and that's really helped us."
HDN: You were the sixth man last year. How has you're role changed this season?
Chandler: "My role really hasn't changed. I'm just starting now. But nothing else is different. Whether I'm a starter or coming off the bench, I'm going to give my team everything I have and play my style of basketball."
HDN: You're known for shooting the three. That's gotta be pretty fun for you in this offense?
Chandler: "It's great. I love to shoot the ball. In this offense, it's either a layup or a three most of the time, and for a shooter that's great because you have the freedom to shoot it. You just have to make sure it's the right shot, and the right opportunity. So this offense really fits me."
HDN: What are the Lights' goals moving forward?
Chandler: "We just have to take it game-by-game. Over the next two months, we want to make sure we get better every day, so we're playing our best in the postseason. We want to win a conference championship, but we can't look too far ahead either. We just want to constantly improve and that will pay off at the end of the season."
HDN: I'm guessing the atmosphere in the Armory is a little different than in junior college. What's it like playing home games for Northern?
Chandler: "It's great. The fans have so much energy and we play off that. It's a unique gym. The crowd really gets into the games and it gives us momentum and really helps us to be successful."