BILLINGS — With word spreading of University of Providence's Steve Keller suffering a heart attack on Sunday, the longtime men's basketball coach wanted to let those in his home state know he is getting better.
"You can tell them I'm feeling great and better than I have in quite awhile," Keller said in a phone interview with 406mtsports.com on Thursday. "We are just lucky we caught it when we did.
"I am feeling really good. It's amazing, they put those stents in there and you feel a ton better. I've walked about a mile and a half the last two days already. I feel good."
Keller said doctors believe he had a heart attack on Sunday night. He drove to the hospital Monday morning on his way to work.
"I haven't felt great for quite a while with a lack of energy and then Sunday night I didn't feel good and didn't sleep much and just had an uncomfortable feeling," Keller said. "I got up and didn't know if I was driving to work or the hospital; my wife wanted me to go to the hospital.
"It's about five blocks from my office. I'm glad I picked the hospital."
Keller, a 1974 graduate of Custer High School and 1978 graduate of Rocky Mountain College, where he played baseball, said he had surgery on Monday afternoon and was released on Tuesday afternoon. He had three stents put in. Keller said he also had a heart attack in 2011 when he also had three stents surgically inserted.
Keller said doctors told him it was a "slight" heart attack, but he quickly countered, "I don't know if any heart attack is slight." He jokingly said, "Somebody asked me if I held the record for stents and I said, 'I don't know, but I am probably in the hunt.'"
The first-year Providence coach is well-known in the world of Montana basketball.
According to his biography on the UP website, he has spent 38 years coaching in the state, with 33 as a head coach. Keller was the head coach at Montana Western for 11 years and the Bulldogs advanced to the NAIA national tourney in eight of his final nine seasons at the school. The 62-year-old Keller led Opheim to three straight Class C girls basketball state titles from 1982-84.
While coaching the Helena girls team, he led the Bengals to three State AA titles in 1990, 1991 and 1997. A Montana Coaches Association Hall of Famer, he was 610-180 as a Montana high school coach.
Keller has also led the Montana boys basketball all-star team to a 14-0 record against Wyoming in the annual Midland Roundtable series.
As a player at Custer High School, Keller 21.5 points per game in four seasons. He finished with 2,206 career points scored.
Providence (12-5, 3-3) was on the road Thursday at Lewis-Clark State College. The team will visit Montana Western on Saturday. Keller remained at home to rest and was watching the Rocky Mountain College women's basketball team, which is coached by his son Wes Keller, on the Internet while visiting with 406mtsports.com. He said he would also watch his team's game online.
"You want to talk about something stressful is watching your team on the Internet," he said. "I'm excited for our guys."
Keller said his team was in "good hands" with assistants J.C. Isakson and Mike McLean. Keller said the plan is to join the team next week.
"I'll play it by ear. I feel good," he said.
And Keller said he isn't done with the Argos.
"I don't have that long left, but I didn't come here to take the job for one year," he said. "That's the plan. I have to stay healthy."