Until last summer, Mike Schuler was better known in Milwaukee than he was in Portland. After less than half a season as coach of the Trail Blazers, Schuler has become a popular figure in Portland.
Schuler made a triumphant return to Milwaukee Sunday, directing his team to a 103-91 victory over the injury-riddled Bucks. Schuler spent three seasons as an aide to Don Nelson, coach of the Bucks.
With Kiki Vandeweghe scoring 32 points and Clyde Drexler 23, the Trail Blazers had an easy time improving their record to 23-14, six games better than the club was a year ago.
The Blazers made 12 of 19 shots in the first period and built a 31-16 lead. Except for an early run in the third period when they cut the lead to 56-50, the Bucks were outmanned throughout.
"When you take a Sidney Moncrief and a Paul Pressey out of your lineup, it's going to hurt your team," Schuler said. "They still gave us a battle. It's a great challenge coaching against Don."
Schuler is a startling success story. After an undistinguished career at Ohio University, he began a college coaching career at VMI in 1969. In seven seasons at VMI and Rice, he never had a winning season, posting a lifetime .236 winning percentage.
In 1981 he joined the New Jersey Nets as an assistant, then joined Nelson's staff in 1983.
Five games into his first NBA season as a head coach, he lost his center, Sam Bowie, with an injury. The Blazers were 1-4. He moved Steve Johnson, by necessity, in at center and lost the next game.
Since then, though, his team is 22-9.
Seattle 127, Utah 111--Tom Chambers and Dale Ellis each scored 17 points in the first half at Seattle to help the SuperSonics build a 65-46 lead.
Several times in the second half the Sonics built the lead to 25 and they breezed to their third win in a row.
Chambers finished with 31 points, while Ellis had 30. When the teams met in November at Salt Lake City, Ellis made only 3 of 15 field goal attempts and had only 8 points in a 127-91 loss.
The Jazz missed a chance to tie Dallas for the lead in the Midwest Division.