Wes Keller was introduced as the new women’s basketball coach at Rocky Mountain College during a press conference on Monday afternoon in the Fortin Center’s Hall of Fame room.
The 36-year-old Keller, who has been an assistant coach with the men’s program at Rocky for the past eight seasons, is replacing Brian Henderson, who resigned last week after spending 13 years as head coach for the women.
“The promotion of Wes Keller is something that really should come as no surprise after the success our men’s basketball team has had over the past couple of years, and the role Wes has played in that,” Rocky athletic director Robert Beers said.
Keller was an associate head coach under Bill Dreikosen for the past three years and head junior varsity coach. He was coaching alongside Dreikosen in 2009 when the Battlin’ Bears captured the NAIA national championship in Kansas City, Mo.
“I’m really, really excited,” Keller said of his new coaching job. “I think we have a good core group of girls that are eager to work hard. They, obviously, didn’t have as good a year as they would have liked, but my goal is to improve things.”
Rocky’s women went 0-16 in the Frontier Conference this past season and were 7-18 overall, including a season-ending 15-game losing streak.
In looking to turn the women’s basketball fortunes around, Keller said he will place an emphasis on commitment, communication, care, work ethic and discipline.
“I’m an intense competitor,” he said. “The old adage that your team takes on the (personality) of your coach will hopefully hold true.”
Keller had a wide variety of responsibilities with the men’s program, including the recruiting of high school athletes, scouting of opponents and working with the Bears’ perimeter players.
“I’m going to take things that we had success with (for the men) and carry them over to the women’s side,” Keller said, mentioning mental aspects specifically.
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“Coach (Dreikosen) and I would sit and we’d talk basketball and basketball, but the thing I appreciate and take away from working with him is he has taught me a lot about life. He really has – and I’m thankful for that.”
A 1996 graduate of Helena High School, where he was an all-state basketball player, Keller played college ball at Miles Community College and Montana Western.
He later assisted as a coach at both schools before coming to Rocky.
“I love it here,” Keller said. “I’ve been treated really well here. And, you know, head coaching jobs just don’t pop up all the time. When this opportunity arose, I had to go for it.
“It’s been a goal of mine to be a head college basketball coach for quite a few years now.”
Keller, who will be striving to recruit Montana athletes, was asked about the possibility of winning a national title for the women.
“That would be awesome,” he replied. “Rocky is a great institution. I think it is set up for success … I’m not going to sit here and call out that we’re going to do that (win a national title), but nobody would have thought we would have done it with the men either a few years back.”
Keller and his wife, Carie, have 6-year-old twins Hayden and Tucker.
Keller’s father, Steve, is the head men’s basketball coach at Western. His younger brother, Josh, is an assistant coach at Western.