2016-12-13 / Front Page

Coach Al Tucker among the 56th Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame induction class

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Longtime Cloverdale boys basketball coach Al Tucker was recently announced as one of 12 to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 53rd class in March of 2017. (Staff Photo) Longtime Cloverdale boys basketball coach Al Tucker was recently announced as one of 12 to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 53rd class in March of 2017. (Staff Photo) Patricksburg native Al Tucker already has a high school basketball floor named after him at Cloverdale High School, but the former coach will join a new fraternity in March 2017.

Tucker was among the 12 individuals announced Tuesday as the 56th induction class into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

“Unbelievable. Growing up in Patricksburg, Indiana 60-some years ago, who would have thought my life would transpire the way it has? I’ve been involved in some great memories and great opportunities. It’s almost like a storybook life that I’ve lived,” Tucker said Tuesday inside the CHS gymnasium, overlooking his namesake hardwood floor.

Following his graduation from Patricksburg High School in 1957, Tucker served in the U.S. Navy before beginning his college education at Indiana State University.

“I didn’t have many highlights in high school. Medically, I was not able to play as a freshman. My body forgot to grow and I really didn’t grow until my junior and senior year,” he recalled. “Even when I graduated, I was 5’11” and 145-pounds. I was on two teams and in the top six or seven players, but we were just not very good, a couple of .500 teams. Probably the greatest experience I had, as a sophomore, I had the opportunity to dress for the varsity in the sectional. We played a team from Staunton, IN who had beaten us during the regular season by about 50 points. In the sectional, we beat them, even though they were good enough to advance and have a much better finish than what they had. I know about half of the people who were on the Staunton team and they still don’t have anything good to say about Patricksburg.”

His brother, Leonard, played for the 1950 undefeated Patricksburg Bulldogs, but Tucker noted the school never won a sectional championship.

He said he was the school’s second pick in the summer of 1964 when he became the Cloverdale junior varsity boys basketball coach. Tucker was on the sidelines with fellow HOF coach Jim Miller for the Clovers’ 1965 regional championship and the 1966 final four squad. Tucker took over the head job in 1967, coaching 256 career wins through a 17- year career. Tucker’s coaching career included seven sectional championships, a regional title and five 20- plus win seasons.

“When I came to Cloverdale, they had not won a sectional, either. I started off with a pretty good group of sophomores and that first season, we ended 18-0. That’s a good way to start,” Tucker noted. “By my own admission, I didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about basketball then and I still don’t know a whole lot about it today, but I followed those kids. They moved up to the varsity with coach Miller the next year and won the first sectional in the history of Cloverdale. When they were seniors, that’s when we made that run to the Final Four, and went against my old high school, Patricksburg, and beat them in the sectional. I was introduced to some quality basketball early on, and some great success.”

Tucker’s 1982 squad participated in the Hall of Fame Classic. His players have also included Indiana All-Stars Rick Ford and Tucker’s late son, Chad Tucker. He is retired after 23 years as a State Farm Insurance agent and was recognized by ISU with a “Coaching Alumnus of the Year” award in recent years.

Tucker admitted a coach always benefits from the talent of his players.

“I went from an 18-0 record my first year to a 4-14 record my second year, and all of a sudden I realized; I was doing the same thing as I did the last year, but what’s wrong here? You have to have people who are willing to work. If I can be remembered for anything, I am very proud of the fact that I had discipline. I was firm, I was fair and I was consistent. Above all, I was demanding. I do not apologize for making demands on myself and making demands on my young men.”

When the news of Tucker’s inclusion in the 56th HOF induction class, he was contacted by two former players he cut from the Clovers’ squad decades ago.

“They congratulated me and said, ‘Coach, thanks for what you did. We’re proud of you and know we didn’t fulfill our promise to you to play basketball,’ but they are still my friends today. This is what it’s all about, the relationships I’ve developed with the community, with my kids and, believe it or not...some of my very best friends are referees.”

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