Adrian Branch, the leading scorer for the Maryland basketball team, was unable to practice yesterday and there is a possibility he could be sidelined for the next week or more with an injured left knee. He may undergo arthroscopic surgery by team physician Dr. Stan Lavine, but the date and time have not been set.

Branch tried to practice yesterday but said the pain was too much to stand. He said he banged the knee in practice Monday, but didn't tell anyone the extent of the pain. Branch told Coach Lefty Dreisell yesterday it felt as if "something is floating" inside his knee.

Lavine said last night that Branch could play tonight against St. Joseph's "if he feels comfortable . . . if it doesn't bother him too much."

"There was a little fluid and there might be a piece of cartilage floating around," Lavine said. "We'll (probably) arthroscope it. How much time he will miss depends on what they find. If it's a question of washing it away, it could be a week to two or three."

Lavine said if Branch feels good enough to play, he might not conduct the arthroscopic surgery. But Driesell said it "will be a miracle" if Branch plays tonight.

Branch couldn't be reached for comment last night. He wore a small wrap around the knee against Canisius, but said afterward it felt fine, he just liked the way the wrap felt.

Reached at home, Mrs. Charles Branch said her son was in a late class last night and that she was on her way to the College Park campus to take him a pair of crutches. She said she was surprised to see he had worn a wrap on his knee.

Driesell, who was understandably somber last night, said Len Bias, a multitalented, 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Northwestern High School, would replace Branch tonight at small forward.

"Naturally, it hurts us," Driesell said. "It will be a challenge for Lenny and a challenge for the team."

Branch, from De Matha, led Maryland in scoring last year as a freshman with 15 points per game.