Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bullets' `Rook' Cheaney Makes Good Impression with Team

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bullets' `Rook' Cheaney Makes Good Impression with Team

Article excerpt

Calbert Cheaney is a new kid on a bad block.

But each night the Washington Bullets rookie is becoming wiser to the bullies and their ways. Being a rookie, he has discovered, is not unlike walking a dark alley alone: Established players act like thugs while officials act as though they've seen nothing.

"It's obvious veteran players get away with a lot of stuff," Cheaney said. "But that's because they're all-stars. They've earned it.

"You have to pay your dues."

It is true even for a player as gifted as Cheaney. The Bullets' first-round draft choice swept the major college player of the year awards, but the former Indiana star is given no special dispensation here.

"You just have to get respect in the league," said Washington's Kenny Walker, a five-year veteran. "That's basically what the first year is about. But with Calbert, you can see the talent, the potential. He's got an excellent attitude toward the game."

It is a workman's attitude, an attitude that says Cheaney won't be satisfied to merely survive.

Cheaney was tested early as Bullets coach Wes Unseld started him at small forward the first four games of the season. Defensively, Cheaney was not up to the task. But since Unseld started bringing him off the bench and using him at both the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, he's settled into something of a groove.

He hit just four of 11 shots while scoring 11 points against Indiana in a game last week, but Cheaney made a nice step forward during the week with three strong performances in which he scored 14, 16 and 17 points, and twice grabbed eight rebounds.

"I feel I'm getting a little bit better," he said.

His team is not. The Bullets are in the basement of the Atlantic Division. It is not like life at Indiana, where over Cheaney's last three seasons his team lost a combined 16 games.

Losing is a new feeling fast becoming an old feeling. …

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