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BYUH's Alves injured


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POSTED: Saturday, October 10, 2009

The top-ranked Division II basketball team in the country will open practice Thursday without the reigning national player of the year.

Brigham Young-Hawaii senior All-America forward Lucas Alves is recuperating from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The 6-foot-9 Alves injured his right knee this summer while playing for the Brazilian national team in Portugal.

“;Anytime you lose your best player it's hard,”; Seasiders coach Ken Wagner said yesterday. “;But this may make us stronger, allow our other guys to get experience.

“;We're still a very good team, with two honorable mention All-Americans (junior forward Marques Whippy and senior guard JR Buensuceso) and several new players who are really good. But Lucas is the best player in the country in Division II.”;

Wagner said Alves' rehabilitation has gone well and the Brazilian national may be ready by December. Alves averaged 19.8 points and 7.5 rebounds last season as the Seasiders finished 27-2. The defending Pacific West Conference champions open with an exhibition game against Hawaii on Nov. 5 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Wagner said he also may be without sophomore guard AJ Reilly for Thursday's first practice. Reilly was in Honolulu last night for tests to determine if he needs an appendectomy.

While Alves has the option to apply for a medical hardship, “;the reason he came here was to improve his game and graduate,”; Wagner said. “;He did very well in Europe (with the Brazilian national team) and has a chance to play professionally.

“;He'll need to play this season to show he's healthy. He'll graduate in spring. There's no reason for him to stay another year.”;