Othell Wilson, Virginia's all-Atlantic Coast Conference guard who suffered a severely bruised right thigh in the first round of the ACC tournament, did not practice with the Cavaliers the last two days and is unlikely to play against Tennessee Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"We had looked to have him at practice yesterday (Friday); he was unable to go. Today he was not able to do anything," said Virginia Coach Terry Holland. "He'll dress out and try to warm (up), and we'll go from there. It's not likely he'll see a great deal of action, if any at all."
Holland also raised the possibility that Wilson might not be able to play again this season if the Cavaliers are successful in Sunday afternoon's nationally televised game (2:25, WDVM-TV-9) in the Mideast Regional. Tennessee-Chattanooga plays Big Ten champion Minnesota in the second game of the doubleheader.
In response to a question, Holland said: "I know everybody wants an answer, just as I do and just as Othell does. The doctors continue to tell us it's a day-to-day thing . . . Every day he's off of it, he has a better chance of being ready the next day. I thought he'd be able to play some against North Carolina last Sunday after missing the North Carolina State game.
"Charley horses can go on and on. It's conceivable that he could not play any more this year regardless of how far we go."
Holland said that the longer Wilson is out, the more doubtful he becomes for the remainder of the playoffs because "it indicates the injury is more serious." The coach said the leg is still swolen, that it is the type of injury in which the blood cannot be drained and that Wilson has "great pain" when he tries to run.
The third-ranked Cavaliers, the top seed in this regional, suffer mainly on defense without Wilson. His absence creates a depth problem and reduces their options of going with two quick, little guards--Wilson and Ricky Stokes. "You can't use pressure the whole game with the same guys," said Jeff Jones, Virginia's other starting guard.
Holland said there will be no major adjustments without Wilson, even though the coach had expected him to play. He also acknowledged that with Wilson the Cavaliers would have applied more pressure in the ACC final, when North Carolina held the ball the final 13 minutes.
But Tennessee Coach Don DeVoe, a former assistant to Bob Knight, said he probably wouldn't order his team to hold the ball with a one-point lead with 13 minutes left, as the top-ranked Tar Heels did. "We don't like to hold it that long," he said. "It would take a strange set of circumstances, like not having Dale Ellis. I like to play to increase the lead."
Ellis, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, is the Southeastern Conference player of the year. He led the Volunteers to a 20-9 record and a share of the conference regular-season championship after starters Gary Carter and Ed Littleton were declared academically ineligible on Christmas Eve.
What could hurt the Volunteers is their lack of size against Ralph Sampson, Virginia's 7-foot-4 center. No Tennessee starter comes within nine inches of him. DeVoe does not play the zone defenses that have sagged on and frustrated Sampson this season, preferring man to man because "it's better to do one thing well than four or five things in a half-baked fashion."
Virginia won last season's game, 62-48, in Atlanta. In that game Sampson--with one Volunteer fronting him to deny the ball and another giving weak-side help--had just nine points and five rebounds. Tennessee stayed even for 29 minutes, but was beaten by the outside shooting of Jeff Lamp and Lee Raker, who have graduated.
In other second-round games Sunday, No. 3 seed Villanova opens the East Regional at Uniondale, N.Y., against Northeastern, followed by St. John's against No. 4 Alabama; De Paul, seeded No. 1 in the Midwest Regional, plays Boston College at 4 p.m. (WDVM-TV-9) in Dallas, following the Kansas State-Arkansas game; the West Regional at Pullman, Wash., has Iowa facing No. 3 seed Idaho and Pepperdine playing No. 2 seed Oregon State.
The East and Midwest Regional semifinals and finals will be played Friday and Sunday at Raleigh, N.C., and St. Louis. The Mideast and West Regionals' semifinals are scheduled Thursday and Saturday at Birmingham, Ala., and Provo, Utah.