With the start of Big East Conference play less than a week away, Georgetown still is in flux. Coach Craig Esherick said recent junior college transfer Lee Scruggs will play against Coastal Carolina today at MCI Center, and freshman Victor Samnick will continue to start at small forward as long as he handles that role.

Maryland and Navy also will continue tuning up for league play tonight, with the 14th-ranked Terrapins (9-2) facing UMBC at Cole Field House and the Midshipmen playing Belmont at Alumni Hall.

Georgetown's Scruggs is a highly regarded 6-foot-11 center who needed more than the usual two years to complete the work necessary to transfer to a Division I school. He has had fewer than a half-dozen practices with the Hoyas since transferring from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College, but will play in limited action against the Chanticleers.

"He's got to get stronger, because in the Big East you have to maintain your position," Esherick said. "But he has some [very positive] things. He has basketball skills and he's 6-11. He has a very nice touch."

That outside touch will be useful when Scruggs joins Ruben Boumtje Boumtje in the lineup, perhaps today or Sunday, when the Hoyas host James Madison. Scruggs could force defenses away from the basket, opening more room for Boumtje Boumtje. Georgetown (6-3) starts its conference schedule next Wednesday at Providence.

As for the Hoyas' regular playing rotation, the 6-8 Samnick played well coming off the bench and as a starter the last game, when Esherick wanted Nat Burton to keep resting his injured foot. Burton, a 6-4 junior who started 28 games last season, apparently is well enough to play extended minutes.

But Esherick said: "If Victor plays well, he will start."

Samnick, a native of Cameroon who played his senior year of high school at Newport School in Kensington, has averaged 22 minutes, one more than Boumtje Boumtje and the other front-court starter, Jameel Watkins. His 54 rebounds are one more than Watkins and second to Boumtje Boumtje's 66. Samnick has made nearly 45 percent of his field goals but just 47 percent of his 19 free throws. Also, he has 12 assists and 20 turnovers.

"Victor is learning to play the perimeter on offense," Esherick said. "He played inside mostly last year. Defensively, he can guard any position, from point guard to center."

Boumtje Boumtje and freshman power forward Courtland Freeman still have not participated in every Georgetown practice drill after suffering almost identical foot injuries in late August.

Coastal Carolina (2-7) is coached by Pete Strickland, a former DeMatha player and assistant coach, and probably will start three guards, among them former Hayfield High standout Steve Miles, the Big South Conference rookie of the year last season.

The Chanticleers are small compared to Georgetown, so 6-9 assistant coach Lewis Preston has taken part in lots of practices to help simulate what they will face today.

"We're young, with 12 of the 16 players freshmen or sophomores," said Strickland, "and we're small. But we can shoot. We're sixth in the country in three-point field goal percentage [42] and second in average three-pointers [made] per game [at 10.1]."

Meanwhile, Maryland will try to improve on its sluggish, 69-66 victory over George Mason on Monday. Playing its first game in 16 days, the Terrapins rallied in the second half behind forward Terence Morris and center Mike Mardesich. Tonight, Coach Gary Williams wants to see his players get a better start as they try for their fourth consecutive victory.

Tonight "is the test," Williams said before practice yesterday. "If we play well, then the break explains the George Mason game. If we don't play well, then we have other things that are issues that have to be fixed."

Maryland has won its past 70 nonconference home games and a victory over the Retrievers would allow the Terrapins to finish the decade without losing a nonconference game at Cole Field House.

"We talk about us and getting ourselves ready to play," Williams said. "You can scout a team and really be well-prepared, but if you're not ready to play, it's a waste of time. . . .

"If we're not awake after the George Mason game, then we're in hibernation for the year."