The Washington Bullets embark today a two-game exhibition swing through Texas still unsure about their two first-round draft choices and the NBA's decision to add a third referee.
In the club's opening preseason games, neither guard Roger Phegley nor center Dave Corzine has been able to shake rookie jitters.
Corzine, the 6-foot-11 former DePaul star, has fouled out of both contests and has been plagued by offensive foul calls. He failed to score in Saturday night's loss to Houston.
Phegley was shut out Friday night against Atlanta, but rebounded Saturday to make four of eight shots. He has a fine outside touch but is obviously pressing.
"It's too early to form any opinions about anyone," said Coach Dick Motta. "The more they play, the better they'll feel."
Motta remembers last season when both Greg Ballard and Bo Ellis started slowly. Ballard finally came around, but the Bullets wound up discarding Ellis to Denver for a first round draft choice.
Maryland forward Lawrence Boston, meanwhile, is off to an impressive start in his longshot bid to earn a spot. If he was a couple of inches taller than 6-8 he would probably have a better chance of sticking.
Still, he is catching attention with his aggressiveness around the basket and his hustle. The coaches also say he listens when they inform him of mistakes.
that," said Motta. "A guy in his spot.
"He tries and you have to admire knowing he has a lot of veterans ahead of him, might get discouraged. But so far he hasn't been affected that way."
Boston was able to get in added minutes over the weekend because of the absence of both Mitch Kupchak and Bob Dandridge. Kupchak was sidelined by a pulled hamstring and Dandridge has yet to report to camp.
Motta would up playing both Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld more than he wanted. Hayes, however, already appears in midseason form and is hustling like an obscure draft choice.
No one is sure how the third official is going to work out. There were 74 fouls called Friday night and 70 Saturday, with each game taking more than two hours.
Many of the added calls are due to stricter enforcement of the handchecking rule. Defensive players may not use their hands this season, either out front or around the basket. So for in the exhibition season, even the slightest touch is being penalized.
"If that is the way it's going to be called in the regular season, then it's good that they start enforcing it now," said Motta. "We've all got to give this time. I think things will work themselves out."
The Bullets play New Orleans to-night in EI Paso, then meet the Rockets in Houston Wednesday night. They will practice Tuesday.
There is still no word on when Dandridge might report. He is being fined $100 a day (not $200 as previously reported) when the club practices and $250 for every game he misses. So far he has lost $1,100.
"We just have to make a decision about what we want to do," said Dandrige's attorney, Scott Lang, regarding the player's desire to work out "better future security" in his contract.
"The Bullets are more cordial but they still have told us they won't discuss anything about the contract," said Lang."The next move I guess is up to us."