Despite Manute Bol's seven blocked shots and nine rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, Bullets Coach Gene Shue has indicated that he does not plan to alter the way he uses the 7-foot-7 rookie when Washington plays the Detroit Pistons tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Capital Centre.
Bol averaged 20.4 minutes in seven preseason games, but during the regular season, he has averaged 9.3 minutes in 14 games. Against San Antonio, Bol entered the game in the third quarter and played 19 minutes, and his defense helped Washington cut an 85-51 deficit to three points before it lost, 104-97.
Because of the circumstances, Bol's play did not surprise Shue.
"We were way out, and we felt we had to do some trapping," Shue said. "That's Manute's strength. They played cautiously. Nevertheless, he did a very good job defensively."
On offense, however, Bol still is a liability. He scored only three points against San Antonio and is averaging only 1.8 in the regular season. In the exhibition season, he averaged 2.8 points.
"Manute is a project," Shue said. "In exhibitions, you can see what different players can do. In the regular season, it's quite a bit different. Everything is for real. You go with your best players."
For Shue, that means using Jeff Ruland, who is averaging 19.4 points per game, then turning to Tom McMillen and Bol when the situation calls for them. Against Detroit, Bol may play even less than usual, because Bill Laimbeer plays away from the basket, and Shue believes Bol is most effective around the basket. "It's not a good combination," Shue said.
Frank Johnson, who was out with a broken left foot, played his first game of the season on Wednesday and scored nine points in 19 minutes.
Johnson and Gus Williams could receive a break if Detroit's Isiah Thomas, who hyperextended his right knee, is unable to play. Thomas was listed as questionable for last night's game with Milwaukee but did play.
"They still have some fine players without him," Shue said. "It's just that they rely on him for so much."