(Argo Athletics Media Release)
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – A powerhouse coach in the Frontier Conference will take over the helm of University of Providence men’s basketball, with former University of Montana Western Head Coach Steve Keller becoming Argo basketball’s new head coach. Keller leaves Montana Western with a career record of 231-124 and a conference record of 108-62 and is coming off of a second-place finish in the Frontier Conference and an NAIA tournament run to the national quarterfinals.
“I’ve been around coaching most of my adult life. I know it takes a rare combination of leadership skills to create an environment where players become comfortable with being uncomfortable, while working toward believing in themselves on a deeper level,” Vice President for Athletics Dave Gantt said. “Coach Keller possesses that leadership gift.”
Over his eleven years at Montana Western, Keller has built the Bulldog program into one of the best in the conference, and a regularly ranked team. In those eleven years, he has averaged 20 wins per season, made seven NAIA tournament appearances, won four Frontier Conference Coach of the Year Awards, and won two Frontier Conference Championships.
In 2017-18, his team finished second in the conference in both the regular season and the post season, was ranked as high eighth in NAIA Division I, and made the quarterfinals of the NAIA tournament.
Not only is the former Bulldog’s history of winning in the Frontier Conference part of his appeal for the University of Providence, but so is his history of successfully recruiting in the state of Montana and specifically the Great Falls area.
“We needed a proven collegiate coach with deep Montana ties who understands the value of recruiting Montana’s best basketball players,” Gantt said.
Of the 16 players on the 2017-18 UMW roster, 10 are from Montana, including Zaccheus Darko-Kelly, a First Team All-Conference guard who is originally from Great Falls. Keller’s 2016-17 squad was led by All-American Shyke Smalls, a Great Falls High School graduate.
Keller’s Frontier Conference experience goes beyond Dillon, Montana. From 2004-07 he served as the men’s basketball assistant coach at Carroll College under Gary Turcott. He also played college baseball at Rocky Mountain College.
Before coaching at Carroll, Keller built a 610-180 record as a high school coach in Montana, leading Opheim High School to three Class C girls’ basketball state championships, and Helena High School girls’ basketball to another three state titles.
Keller will replace former UP Head Coach Anthony Owens who vacated the position a little over a week earlier.