Virginia's basketball team came to Cole Field House yesterday without three of its players -- including senior cocaptain Mike Owens. All were suspended indefinitely by Coach Terry Holland for remarks made to a newspaperman.

Owens, a starter from Kensington, Md., and reserves Dean Carpenter and Jeff Klein were left at home by Holland after an article appeared in The Roanoke Times and World News Wednesday in which all three were critical of Holland and his coaching staff.

After the story appeared, Holland banned newsmen fromthe UVa locker room and cut off all player interviews. But all three players were in uniform when the Cavaliers beat William and Mary Wednesday night.

"I really hadn't had a chance to sit down and think about the article," Holland said when asked why the suspensions hadn't started then. "It's just a matter of trying to get us together as a team right now."

Holland would not say whether the three would play Thursday when Virginia, 19-9 and seeded fifth, plays Clemson at 9 p.m. in the ACC tourney in Greensboro, N.C.

"Knowing the kids, I would think they'll play," he said.

Holland did not specify what the three players would have to do to get back on the team. All three practiced with the team Friday.

Virginia Athletic Director Gene Corrigan, who said the suspensions were Holland's decision and were more a result of the players' approaching reporter Doug Doughty to talk about the team's problems than what they actually said.

Doughty said that he was approached by one player on the team but no one else.

Earlier this week, Holland said there would be no player interviews for the rest of the season, but Corrigan said "the season," meant yesterday's 82-71 loss to Maryland. "The rest is postseason as far as I'm concerned," he said.

But yesterday, Holland, indicated the ban would continue. "We think the interviews have been a distraction," he said. "We're asking the players to put aside all distractions -- girls, everything. The important thing is attitude.Right now, I like this team's attitude."

What steps had he taken to keep girls away from his players? "That I can't control," Holland said, flashing his first smile of the day.

Several Virginia players were approached by reporters outside the locker room after Maryland's 82-71 win and they politely declined to talk.

Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell defended Holland. "Why don't y'all get off his back?" he said. "I think they should be proud of their record. They won 19 games. They're probably one of the top 20 teams in the country. What's wrong with that?"