COLUMN: Schuler passing brings back Clinton County basketball memories

Mark Huber - On The Mark

Mike Schuler passed away June 28. To many in this area, that obituary will come and go without pause.

To Clinton County basketball fans, particularly those in Sabina, the name will prompt much reflection.

Schuler, who was head coach of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers, was the head coach at Sabina High School, hired in April 1964. In the very first game he coached for the Golden Eagles, Sabina defeated Lynchburg 69-64 as Terry Richard scored 29 points and Ron Rittenhouse added 27.

Sabina started the year 13-1 and ended with a 14-5 mark. It was Schuler’s only season at Sabina. It also was the final season for Sabina. In 1965-66, Sabina students attended a new high school called East Clinton.

Schuler went on to coach in the NBA, where he won the Red Auerbach Trophy in his first season. The Auerbach Trophy is given to the league’s top coach. At the time, he was one of five to win it in his first season.

Roger Barber knew Schuler from his days at Ohio University. Barber said Schuler lived over the old laundromat in downtown Sabina with his wife Gloria “Sweet G” Sissea Schuler, who passed away in 2016.

Schuler planned to return to Sabina and was working with the youth baseball program there in the summer, Barber recalled.

“He was scheduling games, making sure the diamonds were ready,” said Barber, who was running the youth program at the time.

Schuler came to Barber one day and requested a “few days off.” Barber asked and Schuler told him he was going to West Point to talk about being an assistant coach with Bob Knight at Army.

Don DeVoe, who starred on the hardwood at Port William High School and Ohio State University, was in the early stages of a Hall of Fame coaching career at the Army basketball team when Schuler arrived on campus.

“I volunteered for the Army in June 1965,” said DeVoe. He later was assigned to the Army Athletic Association as basketball coach under fellow OSU star Bob Knight. DeVoe said Schuler was hired as a civilian to coach the freshman team at West Point.

DeVoe said Schuler was connected with Knight and Army through Tates Locke, who also coached at Army but by this time had gone on to coach at Miami University, where another Clinton County legend would play — Phil Snow.

DeVoe said he and Schuler talked about Clinton County basketball in their one season together at Army.

“We kept in touch,” DeVoe said, noting the two were part of a gathering of former West Point coaches and players who took part in a 50-year celebration of Knight and his first team at West Point in Pinehurst, N.C. in 2015.

While Schuler was coaching in the NBA, Barber and members of the Sabina Lions Club organized a trip to Cleveland to visit with the former Sabina HS coach.

KEEP IN TOUCH: It’s always good to talk with DeVoe, who was one of 14 Clinton County legends inducted in to the inaugural class of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

DeVoe has been to a few induction ceremonies over the years but living in Maryland has kept him away from more than he’d like.

However, he does keep up with who goes in.

“I’ve kept all the old programs (from Hall of Fame inductions),” he said. “I’ve had people send them to me over the years when I couldn’t be there. I always like to keep up with what is going on in Clinton County.”

HALL OF FAME: In regard to the Schuler piece above, Roger Barber also is a member of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame. He is part of the Class of 2008.

HALL OF FAME 2: For those who have asked, the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame will return to the business of inducting worthy Clinton Countians in the future. A lot of things contributed to this pause, some of which remain, but those involved with the HOF are dedicated to keeping it alive.

BHS FLOOR: According to Blanchester High School athletic director Brad Ballinger, around Labor Day, Cincinnati Floor is supposed to begin working on the gym floor. High school volleyball matches will be moved to the middle school when this happens. Hoping that the floor will be completed by early November.

PUZZLER: In a non-sports note, why would a park playground have restrooms and then keep them locked, especially during normal business hours. Makes no sense to me when you have to drive to another playground to use the restrooms.

Mark Huber

On The Mark

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @wnjsports

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @wnjsports