If the Bullets really want to improve their already impressive road record this season, Coach Dick Motta should put away those scouting reports, stop worrying about the referees and cease biting his nails over injuries.
Instead, he should make sure all of his players pack their favorite pillowcases on the next trip.
And he should arrange for a guided tour of every city they visit.
And he should have Elvin Hayes jump into the stands before games and buy beer for everyone in Section 22.
Then watch the Bullets' road success skyrocket.
At least, that is what Dr. Steve Berkowitz, a clinical psychologist from Bevery Hills, Calif., thinks could happen.
Berkowitz, a self-confessed sports enthusiast and statistician, admits his ideas "sound like they are right off the wall" but, chuckles aside, he believes they also have merit.
"If a major corporation like IBM ever was faced with accepting a.500 record on the road as success," he said, "they'd order an immediate shakeup.
"That is a horrible result. But everyone in the NBA has accepted mediocrity on the road as the norm. I don't think it has to be that way."
Berkowitz instead believes all pro sports teams should study the principles associated with what he calls "Territorial Imperssive title, he says, lie the clues to unlock a club's true road ability.
"Look at all the money being spent on parts to make the machine work in sports," he asid. "But despite the price, these parts evidently aren't portable. Take them away from home and they can't function.
"There is a reason for it: Territorial Imperatives, which was first suggested from studies of animals. When you are defending the home turf, your energy and aggressiveness are enhanced. But when you are invading that turf, your ability to dominate is inhibited."
Berkowitz says visiting players feel like trespassers who have no right in this foreign territory. They are less active while home players "display a survival mechanism that we see all the time in animal studies. Animals always fight harder when they are defending their own territory.
"You see references to TI everyday. A man's home is his castle. Make yourself at home. Home turf. No matter how hard a visiting team tries, won-loss records reveal that what they are doing isn't working. There is still no feeling of comfort or relaxation.
"If you and I are of equal strength and size and we have a fight in my home, I'll win. If you are Bill Bergey and I am smaller, you would win physically. But if I screamed and yelled a lot and make you feel uncomfortable, you would leave anyway."
Berkowitz believes that the usual reasons given for poor road records -- travel, jet lag, home crowds -- are overblown. He is convinced if players could be made to feel more comfortable on the road, their performances would improve.
With that idea in mind, he has advanced a number of theories. Among his suggestions:
Have a player familiar with a city give a talk pointing out good tourist spots, decent restaurants and other areas of interest. The lecture would make the city appear a bit less menacing to the visiting team.
Bring something along from home to road games. As an example, swim squads sometimes take water from their home pool and pour it into the new pool.
Stay as close to arenas and stadiums as possible. Long bus rides through cities can make teams feel more uncomfortable.
Stake out a place on the basketball court, for example, and make sure rival players know it is yours, such as the baseline. This serves as a form of intimidation.
Send a player into the stands before games and let him buy food or drinks for rival fans. It will be hard for those fans to root against someone so kind; instead, the player will have won over a cheering section for his team.
Don't argue with the referees. They already are on the defensive as soon as they enter the arena and added pressure makes them even more sensitive.
Look for an extra edge by wearing bright uniforms (to look as bold as possible) and by bringing familiar pillowcases on trips. The latter may help to increase sleep and relieve night-time tension.
"Sure, all these things aren't going to revolutionize sports," said Berkowitz. "But I think just trying a few of them will help. The players can be convinced just by pointing out to them that their statistics are figured on both home and away games. If they improve their road performance, their stats go up and maybe their value will also increase.
"I laugh when I see teams are happy with.500 road records. They just shrug off the fact that NBA teams won 62 percent of games last season and home hockey teams won almost 61 percent."
Berkowitz admits his theories have received the cold shoulder from a lot of the sports establishment. Seattle Coach Lenny Wilkens, for one, "was very negative."
But Berkowitz would like someone to "give them a try before they are dismissed out of hand. What I need is a Charlie Finley or George Steinbrenner brenner to back me. They are willing to take a chance."