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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Worthington coach still

all business after win

No. 500

January 23, 2008

Steve Blackledge

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

If you believe Bob Miller , career victory No.

500 last night meant no more or no less than

any other in his 34-year coaching career.

Straight-faced, he quickly strayed from the

subject of the milestone and explained how a

62-53 win over Delaware was "much more

important" to Thomas Worthington's chances of

winning an Ohio Capital Conference Central

Division championship. He then began talking

about the Cardinals' next opponent. Miller is

all business most of the time, but make no

mistake, he was close to tears when Thomas

Worthington's student cheering section,

affectionately called Miller 's Maniacs,

serenaded him at game's end. He was besieged

with hugs from his players, assistant coaches

and longtime supporters. Delaware athletic

director Kevin Reed presented him the game

ball.

"We've known about this since the start of the

season and we've sort of counted it down to

ourselves with each win," Cardinals senior

guard Taylor Hobbs said. "He never said a word

to us about it. That's just the way he is."

The record books of the Ohio High School

Athletic Association and the Ohio High School

Basketball Coaches Association are not in sync,

but one can safely say Miller is one of only

three dozen coaches with 500 wins. Twelve are

active.

Among Central District coaches, only Dick

Meyer of Buckeye Valley (506-229) has more

victories and Miller (500-256) could pass him

by season's end.

Miller , who spent his first 10 seasons at

Groveport and the past 24 at Thomas

Worthington, said one of the high points of the

evening was being greeted by Vance Mitchell,

one of his former Groveport players from 1982.

"He wondered if I still remembered him and I

said, 'Gosh, are you kidding,' and we rattled off

every name from that team. Those are the kind

of moments that make it special."

None of Miller 's closest friends is surprised

that he is still coaching. He also is in his 43rd

year of teaching.

"I think Bob will stay around for several more

years because basketball is what he loves," said

Hamilton

Township coach

Dave Clinger, who

assisted Miller

twice spanning

parts of three

decades. "He doesn't play golf or have that

many hobbies.

" Bob 's longevity and success is due to the

fact that he's never stopped learning. ... To a

lot of people, he probably comes off as

conservative, but he's very receptive to change.

When he first started coaching back in the

1970s, everybody was playing run-and-gun

ball. He came up with defenses to beat teams

with superior talent. Now, almost all the OCC

teams have copied that style."

Retired Newark coach Gary Walters, who won

more than 400 games, said Miller has simply

outworked many of his peers.

"His intellect, passion for the game and

meticulous preparation have certainly served

him well," Miller said. "His scouting reports to

this day are amazing to see. Usually, coaches

write bullets on tendencies of opponents and

their plays. Bob writes pages and pages of

diagrams. I don't even know how he reads

them."

Walters recalled a beach vacation that they and

their wives once spent together.

" Bob and I must have spent close to an hour

discussing how to defend a pick and roll, and

Bob was drawing diagrams in the sand. Our

wives weren't too happy about that."

Hobbs scored 15 points, Eric Easley 14 and

Justin Hallowell 12 to pace Thomas

Worthington. The Cardinals (13-4, 6-1) shot 54

percent from the field.

Calvin Edwards and Rob Matthews scored 12

each for Delaware (7-8, 3-4).

sblackledge@dispatch.com