It was a welcome surprise to Eric Floyd when he discovered there isn't much difference between playing for John Thompson at Georgetown and for Larry Brown with the New Jersey Nets.
"I didn't really have to make that many adjustments," said Floyd, the former Hoya all-America who will make his first Washington-area appearance as a Nets rookie tonight at 7 in the first game of a Capital Centre doubleheader against the Atlanta Hawks. The Bullets, winners of three of four preseason games, will play the New York Knicks in the second exhibition game, at approximately 9 (WTOP-1500).
"The system here is very fundamental, a lot like it was at Georgetown," said Floyd. "We play team ball and as long as you remember there are four other guys out there, you're fine. It's like a college atmosphere because the guys are so young and Coach Brown coaches the way he does. That makes it fun."
Brown said Floyd is doing well, "partly because he comes from a program like John's. Our systems are very similar. John stresses defense, teamwork, running hard all the time and unselfish play, and so do I."
Floyd is averaging eight points a game while playing about 16 minutes a game as a shooting guard behind Otis Birdsong and Darwin Cook.
Floyd reported to training camp a week late because of prolonged contract negotiations.
The Nets, 2-1 in the preseason, also could be known as the D.C. Metro All-Stars of the North with Floyd joining former Maryland Terrapins Buck Williams, Albert King and Len Elmore.
Brown says it is no accident that he has those four.
"Kids from Maryland and Georgetown are very coachable," he said. "They accept authority and criticism and always work hard at improving themselves. They're all good people and kids like that just don't come along too often. I'm lucky to have them."
Brown said he will try to showcase them tonight, especially Floyd, for their hometown fans. "I purposely didn't use him a lot the last game because I intend to use him a lot in Washington," Brown said.
"I'm not going to try to do anything special," Floyd said. "I'll be excited, but I try to play as hard as I can all of the time."
At 6 feet 3, the slightly built Floyd was a shooting guard at Georgetown, but Brown said he eventually wants to use him as both a shooting and a point guard.
"I'd like Sleepy to handle the ball a little more," he said. "He'd be more valuable if he played both positions. Physically and defensively, he's a lot tougher than people give him credit for. The biggest adjustment he'll have to make is coming in off the bench. I'm not worried about him, though. He's a terrific kid."
The Nets made two major trades in the offseason, acquiring Phil Ford from Kansas City for Ray Williams, and Darryl Dawkins from Philadelphia for cash and a first-round draft choice. The moves, along with the drafting of Floyd and Alabama's Eddie Phillips, strengthened the Nets considerably.
"We still aren't quite ready to challenge Boston, Philadelphia and Milwaukee, but we're closer," Brown said. "The attitude of the whole team has been great and we're working hard, but we are still so young and it takes time to build a team to challenge the powers."
As confident as he was of what to expect from Floyd, Brown was skeptical about the enigmatic Dawkins. He's sold on Dawkins now, he said.
"The big kid is coming on," Brown said. "I was a little concerned at first because I wasn't sure if he'd come in here and work as hard as I wanted him to. He has and he's learning. In fact, he's trying so hard that he hasn't been able to relax until recently. I think he was a little insecure before, but he's really come a long way."
In Brown's stack offense there's no conventional power forward. Instead, two players, a center and forward, fill virtually the same roles. He said he will rotate Elmore, Williams, Dawkins and Mike Gminski in those two positions.
Bullets forward Charles Davis, who strained ligaments in his right knee Monday, won't play tonight or Saturday night against the Nets in Norfolk in the Bullets' final preseason game. But he is expected to return to practice Monday . . . Kevin Porter is doubtful for tonight's game because of sore arches.