DILLON — It has been a long week for the Montana Western men’s basketball program.
Longtime head coach Steve Keller announced his resignation after heading the Bulldogs for the last 11 seasons, and leading his team to an Elite Eight appearance in the NAIA National Tournament just last week. A team full of players are left in shock after a move that they did not see coming.
“We’ve got a lot of good guys here who are young, who are underclassmen,” explained forward Brandon Jones. “I didn’t really know (his resignation) was coming at all. It was kind of a big shock for me.”
Jones wasn’t alone.
“That’s just the way life goes,” said graduating senior Dom Robinson. “Sometimes things come at you blindside, and that’s basically what happened.”
The players maintain that there aren’t any hard feelings towards their former coach, but key members of the team are left confused and uncertain about their futures in Dillon. Returning All-Americans Jones and Zaccheus Darko-Kelly are not guaranteed to return for another season.
“It just kind of puts me in a tough pickle,” Jones, a Houston native, said. “If we don’t get somebody (with ties to the program), I probably won’t be staying here.”
The future of the roster will rest on the shoulders of the next head coach.
“Personally, I’m waiting to see who the new coach is (and) just kind of take it from there,” Darko-Kelly said. “But I’m going to think about it, talk with my family.”
Western set a program record for wins this season, but the team may look very different soon. With the pieces currently in Dillon, it is an attractive gig, but filling Keller’s shoes will be a tall order.