BILLINGS — When University of Providence men’s basketball head coach Steve Keller suffered a heart attack in January, his second in eight years, doctors ordered him to lower his stress level and workload.
The thought of taking a step back, though, even from the Montana-Wyoming All-Star basketball series, never really crept into his mind.
“No, not at all. In fact, I was at work the next week ready to go,” Keller said. “Yeah, I need to reduce some stress, but I’ve been doing this 40 years. It’s probably too late to tell me to do that now. I’m ready to go. I’m not quitting any time soon.”
Patrolling the sidelines and reducing stress don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but the Montana-Wyoming series has been kind to Keller. He’s a perfect 15-0 since taking over the job in 2012 and touted this as one of his most athletic teams he’s coached in the series. Montana eked out a 103-100 win on Friday at Alterowitz Gymnasium in Billings.
That winning streak doesn’t seem to weigh too heavily on Keller, either.
“We talk about, we’ve got a little streak going. And what’s fun? Winning is fun,” Keller said. “They’ll remember this the rest of their lives, playing together with the best players in the state of Montana. We want them to enjoy it, have fun, but we also want to compete hard and try to win games.”
Part of the secret to success will be in the rotations that Keller deploys. Several of the players on this year’s team have played together through AAU ball in the summers, so chemistry has already been easy to spot.
“I’ve seen a lot of them play in Vegas and stuff on their AAU teams, and they’re used to playing together, so that’s got to help. And that’s kind of a key, is finding the five guys, two groups, we’ve got them separated right now, getting that so we have two equal teams,” said Keller.
Keller seems to be managing his stress level and workload well. The boys will play the second game of the annual series with Wyoming at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Sheridan.