EMMITSBURG, MD., OCT. 7 -- For second-round pick Greg Foster, the first week of training camp has been your basic root canal kind of outing. Painful. Uncomfortable. Never-ending.

"It hasn't been easy," Foster said after another difficult practice. "But it's getting better. The toughest thing was getting over that first hump of the conditioning stage the first three days. Once you get your wind, the better condition you are, the better you play. You limit yourself when you're not in good condition."

This is endemic to almost all rookies. They're never in the right place. What they liked to do in college is precisely what coaches don't want to see in the pros. In Foster's case, a proclivity to dribble out front and shoot perimeter jumpers is not what Coach Wes Unseld wants from a 6-foot-11, 240-pounder.

When the Bullets drafted him, "we saw a big body," Unseld said, "a guy that can shoot, a guy that can run, that's got good hands. And I also saw a big question mark. Why did he only average 10 points and six rebounds if he could do all those things in college?

"I just want to see, from day to day, him catch on to what we're doing, to show a little bit more improvement as to what's going on. Other guys are doing it. So should he."

Part of the difficulty is that Foster's coming from a highly structured offense at Texas-El Paso, which is about 180 degrees from the Bullets' motion offense. Here, once a player gives up the ball, he's supposed to set picks and screens, or cut to the basket. And that's been difficult for Foster to pick up thus far.

"It's a funny change," Foster said. "Usually a lot of guys are doing one direct thing. In this {system} you've got to think a lot. You've got to think quick and be able to flow into it a lot more easily. But this offense is designed real well and I think I can contribute. I'm not always stuck in the hole. It's a mixture." Practice Points

Guard Tony Harris returned to camp Saturday night after visiting his mother, who suffered a stroke last week. Harris practiced this morning. . . .

Center Michel Bonebo missed his third straight day of practice with a pulled left hamstring. "I hope to be able to go" Monday, he said after watching morning workout. . . .

Some 200 season-ticket holders watched the practice. . . . Harvey Grant missed part of practice after developing shin splints. The floor at Knott Arcc Arena is extremely hard; Grant said he had never had splints before.

Washington had practiced five times in two days on the Knott Arcc floor, which may be part of the reason the team was excused from afternoon practice. They'll return to the older, more giving surface at Memorial Gymnasium for most of the week before next Saturday's first exhibition game in New Haven against the New Jersey Nets.