As he was leaving Cole Field House Saturday afternoon for his car, Maryland trainer Bill Saylor was asked about Walt Williams' leg injury.
Saylor shrugged and said, "The worst-case scenario is that he broke a bone in his leg. The best-case scenario is that he got a charley horse."
The X-rays came in yesterday with the worst of all possible news for the Terps. They will lose Williams, their point guard, chief offensive threat and team leader, for at least four weeks with a fracture of the fibula, a non-weight bearing bone, in his lower left leg.
Vince Broadnax, a 6-foot-4 junior reserve forward, likely will start in Williams' place on Wednesday, when the Terps host Virginia.
Broadnax had begun the season as a starter, but became the first player off the bench when 6-3 sophomore guard Kevin McLinton moved into the starting lineup. Before Williams' injury, McLinton would rotate in at point guard and share the ballhandling chores with Williams. Now McLinton will take over the point. Matthew Downing, a 5-10 junior college transfer, also is certain to see more playing time off the bench as point guard and shooting guard.
Broadnax, who averages four points, is known more as a defensive specialist than a scorer. Williams' absence will likely place more of the scoring load on seniors Cedric Lewis and Matt Roe, as well as junior college transfer Garfield Smith.
"We'll just have to get the team together and see what happens," said coach Gary Williams. "If you're a player and you haven't been playing, obviously you don't want to see Walt hurt, but you want to see some time. Hopefully, someone will step forward."
The coach said Williams, a 6-8 junior co-captain, would be fitted for a cast today by Dr. Stan Lavine, the team's physician.
"Hopefully, this will heal quickly and I'll be able to get back out there," Walt Williams said in a prepared statement distributed by the school. "I'm disappointed for sure, but I know the team will continue to do well."
The injury would likely keep Williams out through the middle of February. But because Maryland will not play in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament or the NCAA tournament because NCAA sanctions, Williams could be lost to the team for the rest of the season.
"By the time he can play again, the season might be over," said Gary Williams. "We'll just have to play."
With 15:50 left in the first half of Maryland's 94-78 loss to Duke, Williams left the game, hobbling on his leg. Saylor attended to Williams and he returned 38 seconds later.
However, he fell to the floor with 4:59 left, in obvious pain. He was helped up and was escorted to the dressing room with 4:41 left, and he remained there for the rest of the half.
Williams attempted to make a go of it in the second half, rejoining the team for layup drills, but he was still noticeably favoring his leg.
Gary Williams wanted to keep him out of the lineup.
"He told me not to play on it," Walt Williams said in the locker room Saturday. "He said I should just sit out. I told him I wanted to play. I was going to do it anyway."
Williams gamely made an attempt to play. He hit the team's first basket of the second half, a 14-foot jumper in the lane 11 seconds into the half, but came down awkwardly.
He stayed in the game for another four minutes, but when Duke's Brian Davis picked off a pass intended for Williams with about 15 minutes left and dunked it at the other end, it became obvious that Williams could not go on and he left the game for good a minute later. Davis had accidentally kicked Williams in the leg to aggravate the injury in the first half.
Maryland head trainer J.J. Bush said, in a statement released by the school, that Williams did no additional damage to the injury by continuing to play.
Williams' injury is a potentially crippling blow to an offense that was already scrambling for points. Williams was fourth in the ACC in scoring at 20.3 points per game, fifth in the league in three-point shooting, sixth in assists, eighth in free throw percentage and ninth in steals.
In addition, Gary Williams said the team will miss his rebounding ability. He was averaging 5.3, good for third on the team.