The avaiability of injured starting center Tom Scates for Georgetown's game Saturday in the NCAA tournament is "still a very serious question mark," Coach John Thompson said yesterday.

Scates strained a tendon in his left knee last week. The 6-foot-11 senior worked out lightly yesterday for the first time since the injury. The knee is still taped.

"I'm not trying to make him run now, not asking him to pur himself in the position to fully test it," said Thompson. "It will be a few days before we try and involve him in a lot of motion things. Then we can determine if he'll be ready Saturday."

The Hoyas face Rutgers in Providence, R.I., in the second round of the NCAA tournament. If Scates is unable to play, freshman Ed Spriggs will fill in. Spriggs played against Syracuse last Saturday, scoring eight points and blocking two shots.

Maryland, which faces Rhode Island in a first-round National Invitation Tournament game Wednedsday at Cole Field House (8 p.m.), also will host a second-round game if the Terps win.

The Terrapins would play the Ohio State-St. Joseph's winner Monday at Cole Field House where tickets for the Maryland-Rhode Island game are on sale.