Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bullets' Cheaney Struggles to Adjust

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bullets' Cheaney Struggles to Adjust

Article excerpt

It isn't that people don't warn you, it's that they can only warn you.

You know your name can swirl in trade rumors. You know a good friend can be traded and your team made over without your consent. You know injuries to others can create more opportunity, but also more pressure.

You know the season is too long - 82 games - and that each day within that season is too long - hour upon hour of empty time.

They told you all of this, except the important part: No one explained that even if the level of competition were no greater than you faced in college - and it's much greater - playing your best would be hard and harder, and often impossible.

Nothing that has happened to Calbert Cheaney in his second season with the NBA's Washington Bullets has shocked him, not really. But almost all of it has left him searching for those natural feelings that flowed into a natural game and charmed senior season at Indiana University when he was the National Player of the Year.

Amid all this, including the huge trade that sent friend Tom Gugliotta to Golden State and brought Chris Webber to the Bullets, Cheaney is playing better than he was a year ago, averaging about 14 points a game.

What's more, with Rex Chapman, Webber and Don MacLean injured, he is getting the opportunity to play when it matters most. Now, if only he could feel like himself out there.

"Sometimes," Cheaney said, "I think my problem is I think too much, instead of just going out and playing my game and having fun."

The NBA's novelty has worn off, as it inevitably does.

One city is another city, all airports the same. Nowhere are they playing the Indiana University fight song, and at no time is there the urgency of even an early-season Big Ten game.

"You've got so much time on your hands when you're not playing basketball it's unbelievable," Cheaney said. "In college, it's `You've got a game tonight, pump up. …

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