GREAT FALLS – The University of Providence officially introduced new men’s head basketball coach Steve Keller on Friday, March 23rd. Keller racked up a career record of 231 wins and 124 losses, plus a conference record of 108 wins and only 62 losses while at Montana Western. Keller’s Western team is coming off a second-place finish in the Frontier Conference and NAIA tournament run to the quarterfinals. It will be a new challenge coaching the University of Providence, a team that has finished sixth in the conference three straight seasons, but the new coach has high expectations for the future.
“I’m excited about what I see here in Providence. (It was) hard to leave Dillon, hard to leave Western but this is an opportunity and a new challenge,” said Keller. “I’m not being arrogant when I say this, I expect to win here. We’re not coming here to get sixth place or fifth place.”
“An interesting intangible that coaches possess, they can create a relationship with players to get them to be comfortable as we coach them to be uncomfortable and deal with it. But that’s the only way you grow,” said the Argos Vice President of Athletics Dave Gantt. “So it’s ‘can I get on you to get you out of your comfort zone without you disliking me?’ That’s a heck of a balance to maintain and (Steve Keller) is a master of it. Teams love him, he’s tough, but that’s okay because there’s a little love in there somewhere. He builds those relationships. To me, that was huge.”
Keller realizes that the potential is there with this Providence team. He’s had good success recruiting local Montana athletes to play on his teams — three Montana natives were starters for coach Keller this past season at Montana Western.
“I know it’s hard to come in and turn something around in one year, but if I sign the kids that we’d like to get, that we’re looking at, we’re going to be competing,” said Keller. “Providence was in most of the games last year. Providence beat Carroll College. Providence beat Lewis-Clark State. The problem is that we play each other three times and it’s tough to continually win in our league. It took three years before we got 25 wins at Western. If recruiting goes well, I want to be really competitive next year and the year after that. I think we’re ready to go and who knows, if we get the right kids we want, we’ll compete in this league next year. I know the type of player it takes to compete in (the Frontier Conference).”
Even though it’s a new school, new team and new atmosphere, Keller says we won’t change the way he approaches the game.
“My coaching philosophy will not change. I’ve been successful with that. I feel like, if we run the dribble drive and play with a discipline, but the kids have freedom, that’s worked and I think that will work here,” says Keller.