He caught the pass at the head of the key, faked once and drove to the baseline. Greg Ballard jumped high to block the shot, but is cleared his hand and dropped softly into the basket.

It was a move Bob Dandridge had worked against Julius Erving time after time during last year's playoffs. Seeing him do it again on his first day at Bullet training camp yesterday, brought a smile to Coach Dick Motta's face.

It looked as if he had never been away," said Mota after Dandridge glided through a two-hour workout, mostly running with the second unit. "How did he look? Darn good, I'd say."

Dandridge, who ended a three-week contract holdout with his appearance at Fort Meade, had said he didn't expect any problems blending in, "except for the kidding I'll take." And he was correct.

"They gave it to me pretty good," he said. "Stuff like, 'Did you miss us' or 'What took you so long to show up?' That was the roughest part of the day.

"I feel good, not really very tired. Usually the first day everything goes in. By Wednesday or Thursday, it will catch up to me, I'm sure."

Dandridge hardly appeared as if he had been away from practice, let alone away from competitive basketball, since mid-June.

He dashed headlong down the court on fast breaks, worked free for shots, got back on defense and ran through the plays with few mistakes. Only occassionally did he have to stop and ask about a new wrinkle that Motta has added to the offense.

"There are a couple of new plays," he said "and they had to tell me about them. It was nice being here. I sort of miss the antics in the locker room, things like that.

"It's difficult to be away from something you've done for the last 10 years or so. You miss it. But this year I didn't miss it as greatly as I had in previous years. Now I do."

There had been little question among the Bullet coaches and players that Dandridge would eventually join them this pre-season and they refrained from any public criticism of his controversial holdout.

"We all know Bobby can play," said Kevin Grevey. "He showed last year he could go without practice and still do the job. No one around here is going to hop on him about anything."

Although Dandridge says it will take him "until January to get into the right condition," he appeared to be in a regular-season form yesterday.

He has learned in his nine pro years how to pace himself through the schedule. He hardly practiced the final two months of last season, but was outstanding in the playoffs.

"I think practice is important, especially early in the season," he said. "It's important to get down your timing and get into shape.

"After awhile, however, I only try to keep sharp and keep in touch with my teammates. I feel I can relex more and save myself for games. But I'd rather not risk getting hurt in workouts once I feel I'm in proper shape.

"My duties (at small forward) don't change that much. Wes Unself has different duties depending on the (opposing) center but that's not the case for me. So it makes my preparation a little easier."

Motta said he wasn't sure if Dandridge would start in the scason opener Friday night, although the veteran forward says he doesn't think he should.

"I'll be happy with a few minutes," he said. "I haven't paid my dues in camp yet like the rest of them have."

But as far as Motta was concerned yesterday, who starts Friday isn't important. For the first time this training camp, he had his NBA championship team together. Was he happy about that?

"With the way we played out there, we could have practiced for five hours, and not accomplished anything," he said in his best deadpan manner.

The Bullets dropped ex-Maryland forward Lawrence Boston to cut their roster to the league limit of 11.

The new faces this season are both rookies, guard Roger Phegley and center Dave Corzine.