Roger Phegley squares himself to the basket, and as he leaps, he raises the ball over his head. He releases it at the apex of his jump. It rolls off his fingertips with perfect rotation. His wrist follows through with his fingers pointing at the front of the rim as the ball arcs toward the hoop.
Phegley has classic jump-shooting form and he was used ti to become one of the Bullets' most dependable offensive weapons.
Though he is playing an average of only 21 minutes a game, he is averaging 13.7 points, third best on the team.
As usual, Phegley will be on the bench when the Bullets take the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at Capial Centre. But when Coach Dick Motta needs instant offense he has only to turn his head and say, "Roger."
The 6-foot-7, 23-year-old Phegley has put on a shooting clinic the last two games.
He made 10 of 13 shots, including eight in a row, as the Bullets beat Utah, 111-103, Saturday at Capital Centre. Only one of his baskets was from less than 17 feet.
The previous night against the Nets in New Jersey, he scored 13 fourth-quarter points, including two straight 18-footers down the stretch, in a 92-91 Bullet Victory.
"The biggest things as a shooter is to have the other people have confidence in you and get you the ball." Phegley said. "When I'm in the game and hot, Kevin (Porter) and everyone else is great at finding me.
"Our offense is good for me because my game is to shoot the ball and our offense provides so many screens to get me free."
"He's such a good shooter that when he misses you almost get mad at him," Motta said. "It's not unusual for him to hit eight in a row. It's like a pitcher throwing strikes.
"He's a real pure shooter. If a youngster wanted to copy someone, it should be Roger. You can't get a better model to ask for a better demonstration of power and flow on a jump shot. His rhythm and flow from floor to release is something else. It's like watching a snake unwind."
Phegley says he has been a good shooter as long as he can remember.
"When I was a kid in Peoria," he said, "I'd shoot all day in the driveway. I'd shoot for two hours and then go in and eat lunch and then go back out for three hours. Everyone else would be bored, so I had to do it by myself. I'd play games with and against myself by passing the ball off the garage and things like that."
This has been an odd season for Phegley. First, Kevin Grevey became a free agent and it wasn't known if he would remain with the Bullets. Then, when Phil Chenier had back problems as training camp opened, Phegley was given the starting shooting guard spot.
Grevey reported to camp two weeks late, but was back in the starting lineup the first game, Oct. 12.
Phegley played only four minutes and missed both shots he took that night.
The next night he played mostly at small forward, subbing for Bob Dandridge, who was injuried. He scored 35 points and has been a fixture in the Bullet offense ever since.
"I almost played as much that game as I had in one-third of my rookie season," Phegley said. "That game was the first time where I did everything on instinct like I did in college. I think it proved to me, the coaches and my teammates that I could play."
Dandridge's stiff neck acted up again Monday night. He didn't practice yesterday and was listed as questionable for tonight's game. So Phegley will probably split his time between guard and forward again tonight, as he has most of the season.
"I enjoy the position I'm in, and I'm glad the coach has confidence in me to play me at two positions," Phegley said. "I'm not exceptionally quick and I have trouble guarding real quick guards and I have some trouble with some big forwards. But if a guard is real quick, usually isn't going to be 6-5 and he'll have some trouble fighting over an Unseld or Hayes pick. I just try to run the big forwards."
Phegley is unconcerned about not starting.
"It seems to work better with him (Chenier) starting and me coming off the bench," he said.
Phegley has the physical ability, personality and the looks to become a Bullet hero and Nba star. He knows it, and Motta and his assistant, Bernie Bickerstaff, know it. So in addition to working on Phegley's game, the coaches are preparing him mentally to be a star, too.
"I realize basically I've got a good thing going for me," Phegley said, "and I worry sometimes about fouling it up. But to do that I would have to do things that I know are wrong. Therefore, all I have to do is keep myself on a straight line."
Mitch Kupchak looked good again in practice and will probably be activated for Friday's game in San Antonio . . . The Cavaliers have a host of jump shooters, led by Mike Mitchell (19.1 average), Campy Russell (18.9) and Randy Smith (18.0). The Bullets snapped a two-game losing streak against the Cavaliers Oct. 31 with a 114-105 victory at Capital Centre. Beginning with that game, the Bullets have won six of eight.