Maryland guard Greg Manning, injured in Monday's 99-76 rout of Boston University, only sprained his right ankle and could play again as early as Saturday at Duke.
That was the diagnosis from team doctor Stanford Lavine yesterday and when the word reached College Park one could almost hear a collective sigh of relief.
"Obviously we're pleased that Greg isn't hurt seriously," Coach Lefty Driesell said. "We're just going to try and keep him off his feet and hope that he'll be ready to play Saturday. That's a big game for us."
The Terps have a less-than-big game tonight at 7 o'clock in Cole Field House against East Carolina. The Pirates, under rookie Coach Dave Odom, have a 14-8 record with a win over a good Illinois State team.
Driesell has to be concerned most with wrapping up the ACC regular season title and the ensuing, virtually automatic NCAA tournament bid.
The eighth-ranked Terps are 18-4 overall, 9-2 in league play. That gives them a two-game lead over Clemson and North Carolina, both 7-4. After Duke, Maryland finishes the regular season with home games against Wake Forest and Virginia.
Manning, averaging 14 points and leading the ACC in both field goal percentage (65) and free throw shooting (90 percent), is a key man for the Terps. He is their most consistent outside threat and is frequently the lead man on the fast break. He is also one of the two or three most underrated players in the league.
With Manning out, Driesell will start Dutch Morley at point guard tonight and move Reggie Jackson to Manning's spot on the wing.
Manning, a 6-foot-2 junior, was sent home, with orders to stay off his feet, immediately after being examined by Lavine.
"There's no way of knowing now how soon he'll be able to come back," Driesell said. "Sometimes an ankle can be couple of days, sometimes it's a couple of weeks. All we can do is keep him off his feet and hope he's okay by Saturday."
Manning has a history of quick recoveries. He hurt his back last season against Wake Forest and appeared to be out for the season. Eight days later he was playing in the ACC tournament.
While the Terps are playing East Carolina tonight, Catholic (8-14) will be trying to break a five game losing streak at Mount St. Mary's. The Cardinals have had more field goals than their opponent in their last four games but have been murdered at the free throw line in each game.
They have been getting superb play from sophomore Bill Dooley of late. Dooley, not even a starter at the out-set of the season, has averaged 22.7 points in his last four games and his 13.1 average for the season leads the team.