A third set of tests is scheduled sometime next week. If that group of tests is sufficiently encouraging, there is a chance Duke Crews can return to action this season. If not, Pearl and his staff will make plans to proceed without him for the remainder of 2007-08.
"He is going to undergo another set of tests the beginning of next week," Pearl said. "From that point forward, we'll make sort of a decision on his status for the rest of the season – about whether he'll be able to return or he'll be out."
Crews' heart problem was made public on Dec. 14 after being discovered via a routine echocardiogram given to all of UT's athletes. He immediately was suspended from all practice and game participation, pending further tests.
The second battery of tests was administered roughly 2 1/2 weeks after the first, and the third set will be given roughly 2 1/2 weeks after the second.
"There has to be enough time go by between tests to be able to determine if he's responding to the rest," Pearl said, adding that doctors also want to compare "the accuracy of the tests under different conditions to get a better read."
Although he is unable to practice or play, Crews attends practice and games as an interested observer. All accounts suggest that his attitude throughout the trying ordeal has been upbeat.
"It's been great," Pearl said. "He's been terrific. He's been at practice. He's been very supportive on the bench."
Crews, a 6-7, 233-pound sophomore post, missed Tennessee's opener vs. Temple with a minor injury. He gradually worked his way into the starting lineup for Game 8 against Louisiana Lafayette, responding with 10 points and 9 rebounds. He also started Game 9 at UT-Chattanooga before the heart issue was discovered. He was averaging 6.5 points, 4.6 points and 17.9 minutes per game at the time.
Although Crews' family and teammates are hopeful he can return to action this year, his fate is in the hands of the medical specialists.
"His family is very grateful that we caught what could've been a potential problem," Pearl said. "You're always going to be on the more cautious side but (the family is) very optimistic that he'll be able to return at some point."