Trojan basketball alumni group plans banquet

By Frank Lewis

August 2, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The Portsmouth High School basketball program is storied and an integral part of the school and city’s history, having made 14 final four appearances. Now, a website has spawned an event which will bring that program more exposure in the Scioto County community and one of the best known players back to the area.

Mike Schuler, who holds a distinction not held by many others, that is winning NBA Coach of the Year honors in his first year as a head coach, graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1958, graduated from Ohio University in 1962, coached all the sports at Marietta High School and taught elementary school physical education for two years; was head basketball coach at Sabina, Ohio.

“Then I had the opportunity to go with Bobby Knight to West Point,” Schuler said. “I was his assistant for a year. And then I had a chance to go back to Ohio U as an assistant to coach (Jim) Snyder.”

Schuler’s career moved to the NBA in the 1981-82 season, as an assistant to Larry Brown, with the New Jersey Nets.

“My first head coaching job was with the Portland Trailblazers in 1986-87,” Schuler said.

It was that year he was named NBA coach of the year.

“It was just an unbelievable honor, because that’s not something you politic for. It’s voted on,” Schuler said. “At that time I was one of five coaches who won that award in their rookie (first) year.”

Schuler will be the featured speaker at the first Portsmouth High School Basketball Alumni banquet to be held on Sept. 15 at Portsmouth High School.

“I have great, great, great memories at Portsmouth,” Schuler said. “It was a great childhood for me, a great time of high school, and I have always had fond, fond memories.”

The schedule worked perfectly for Schuler, whose class will also hold it’s 55th reunion in September. There will be a “meet and greet,” beginning at noon, with the banquet starting at around 1 p.m. The event will be catered by the Scioto Ribber, and tickets are $30 each, $50 a couple, or $500 for a corporate table, which comes with 12 tickets, and are available at Dick Spencer’s State Farm Insurance office (740-353-5131) and from J.D. Knittel at 740-353-1647.

Portsmouth head basketball coach Gene Collins said the event is sponsored by the Portsmouth High School Basketball Alumni Association.

“Three or four of us got together - myself, John Webster, Matt Payton, who is my video guy, and we got our heads together and said, let’s get an alumni association together, and get all of the historical information about the basketball program moved to one location, which was a website (www.trojanhoops.org),” Collins said. “Matt happened to be a tech guy, and built the website himself, because that is what he does as a profession, and John Webster started making some contacts, and lo and behold, he ran across Mike Schuler, who immediately joined and said he would to anything to help us, and then the group became created and said, let’s do a banquet.”

Collins said Dave Maynard, who is also part of the association, did much of the history on the website which has team pictures all the way back to 1960.

“He (Maynard) has a blog page,” Collins said. “He goes in and puts different historical things with the team on the site. We also have advertisement. We sell site ads for $300 a year, which is basically less than $1 a day, for anybody that wants to advertise their business.”

Collins said the site has videos of past PHS basketball games which can be viewed for free.

“I played at Portsmouth High School in the 80s and we were very, very successful,” Collins said. “I played at the tail end of Dick Hopkins’ coaching career, and Tom Smith taking over. We were really really successful, and you really don’t realize how much tradition and history you have until we were fortunate enough to go to the state tournament, not once, but twice. And people just start reminding you how often Portsmouth has been at the state tournament.”

Collins said he expects a large number of tickets to be sold very quickly and urged those wishing to attend the event to get their tickets as soon as possible.

“Any time I have gotten the opportunity to go back to Portsmouth I always do that, because that’s my home town. That’s where I’m from,” Schuler said.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.