Some Straight Shooting
By Cliff Newell
Terry Dischinger could really shoot the basketball.
So it really frustrates him when he sees how players shoot the basketball today.
â€œSo many players do it wrong,â€ said Dischinger, today a nationally renowned orthodontist who lives in Lake Oswego. â€œEven the pros donâ€™t have the proper fundamentals. Itâ€™s like any other sport. If your fundamentals are sound, youâ€™re more consistent.
â€œThe fun of basketball is putting the ball in the basket.â€
Terry Dischinger has had lots of fun in his career: A member of the legendary 1960 USA Olympic basketball team, three-time All-American at Purdue University, former all-time Big Ten scoring champion, NBA Rookie of the Year with the Chicago Zephyrs, three-time NBA All-Star.
The Terre Haute flash is a genuine Indiana basketball legend who even nearly 50 years after his heyday still gets named to various halls of fame and all-time best lists.
But Dischinger is not done with basketball. That is why he and Dave Cook founded the Upward Basketball youth league at Mountain Park Church of Lake Oswego.
The league for players from kindergarten through sixth grade had a great first season in 2008 with 140 players signing up, then saw the league roster nearly double this year with 270 players.
That is because Upward Basketball doesnâ€™t merely send the kids out on the gym floor and throw them a basketball. Instead, they are carefully nurtured in the skills of the game and given every chance for success.
â€œThey can get a lot of joy out of a program like this, because that is what Jesus wants,â€ Dischinger said.
Most youth basketball league games resemble a free-for-all, with kids scrambling about from one end of the gym to the other, with stealing the basketball away by far the most dominant feature.
â€œItâ€™s just chaos,â€ Dischinger said.
Not in Upward Basketball.
â€œThis league actually lets players learn skills,â€ Dischinger said. â€œThere is no double teaming or stealing the ball allowed. You canâ€™t belly up on defense and youâ€™ve got to give the player some room. Thereâ€™s no pressing, either. That means these children very seldom foul and that allows them to develop offensive skills. Defensive skills, too.â€
Naturally, the â€œfunâ€ skill of shooting is what the kids like to learn the most. First of all, the rims are lowered in Upward Basketball to accommodate the little kids. Instead of futilely heaving the ball at the regular 10-foot high hoop, a kindergartener gets to shoot at a basket that is a foot or two lower.
But the biggest thing is they learn how to shoot the ball. Dischinger has been coaching the league coaches on how they can teach just that.
â€œI really studied shooting as a player,â€ Dischinger said.
Oddly enough, nobody ever taught him how to shoot a basketball.
â€œI watched good shooters,â€ Dischinger said. â€œWhen I went to college games I would watch the best shooter. I grew up in Indiana, where basketball is what they lived for. In basketball season I always shot the ball a lot and always stayed to shoot after practice.
â€œSometimes I practiced on a rim that was three inches smaller in circumference, and that really made me learn to concentrate and arch the ball just right. I also played a lot of one-on-one, which kids miss today. Thatâ€™s where you really learn how to play the game.â€
Dischinger even watched the most legendary shot in Indiana basketball history â€“ Bobby Plumpâ€™s game-winning basket that gave tiny Milan High School the 1954 state championship.
â€œI was lined up right behind him,â€ Dischinger said. â€œWhen Bobby shot the ball, I said to myself, â€˜Thatâ€™s in!â€™â€
While growing up in his hometown of Terre Haute in the late 1950s, Dischinger played four sports, all with great success. If he was coming up today, Dischinger acknowledges that a player of his caliber would be playing for traveling all-star teams for shoe companies.
â€œWhen you play several sports it develops your body fully,â€ Dischinger said. â€œYouâ€™re not beating up on the same muscles and joints all the time. Plus you donâ€™t get tired of the game.â€
With Upward Basketball, Dischinger says every player is an all-star. Every player gets a piece of the spotlight.
â€œItâ€™s sad, but by high school 90 percent of kids donâ€™t participate in basketball any more,â€ Dischinger said.
â€œUpward Basketball wants to allow kids to succeed and keep playing. Because itâ€™s fun.â€