Maryland center Charles Pittman, who suffered a fractured left foot three weeks ago, will be examined this afternoon to determine whether he will be able to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament that begins Friday in Greensboro, N.C.

Pittman put away his crutches yesterday and walked without a noticeable limp. He shot for two hours at practice and moved gingerly, but was told by team physician Stanford Lavine not to run or jump. As the team scrimmaged, he shot at a basket on a side court.

Asked about Pittman's status for the ACC tournament, Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said, "I'm not going to even think about that until I hear from Lavine tomorrow."

It is possible Pittman's availability will not be determined until Friday, a Maryland spokesman said.

"It's sore, but it doesn't hurt or give me any problems," Pittman said yesterday. "The foot is heavily taped, and I have a piece of hard plastic protecting the area around the fifth metatarsal. But Dr. Lavine is worried that I'll jump, come down and break the screw he put in there."

When Pittman, Maryland's second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, was injured during a team scrimmage on Feb. 9, Lavine said the 6-foot-8 senior might be able to play in the first round of the tournament.

Maryland plays North Carolina State at 2 p.m. Friday. The Wolfpack defeated the Terrapins twice during the regular season.

Last Wednesday, Maryland's Mark Fothergill did an effective defensive job inside against the Wolfpack, but the Terrapins had nobody to stop Thurl Bailey, State's 6-10 forward, who scored on base line jumpers at will and finished with 20 points.

"I really want to play," Pittman said. "I've been taking whirlpool treatments once a day, and shooting (even when he was in a cast) twice a day. I may have lost some wind from not running. But I've kept my strength up by lifting weights."

In each of the five games Pittman has missed, freshman Adrian Branch has been the leading scorer.

Branch has averaged 20 points per game in that span, including 29 in Maryland's upset of then top-ranked Virginia on Saturday. He leads the Terrapins in scoring with a 15.2 average.

"I would have to think Adrian would be rookie of the year in the ACC," Driesell said after the Virginia game. "I don't know if Mike Jordan (freshman guard at North Carolina) has done as much for his team as Adrian has for us."

For the Terrapins to make it past the first round in the tournament, however, they cannot depend on Branch to produce 40 percent of the offense (99 of the team's last 249 points).

"We can't count on Adrian shooting 12 for 17 from the field, like he did against Virginia," said reserve forward Pete Holbert. "I put a lot of pressure on him by missing my shots in that game, but he took up the slack. We just can't continue to put that kind of pressure on him, though."

The Terrapins began practice late yesterday, as three local television news crews came to Cole Field House.

"I can't believe all three of you guys are out here on the same day," Driesell told one of the sportscasters. "Haven't seen you guys all season, but everybody comes out after we beat Virginia. Right now we're good, because we beat Virginia. But if we lost to North Carolina State in the first round, they'll say we're bums."