Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Canadian Olympic Qualifying Roster Features Wiggins, Bennett But No Murray
By ADAM ZAGORIA & JOSH NEWMAN
The Canadian Olympic qualifying roster was released Thursday and it includes Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, but not incoming Kentucky point guard Jamal Murray.
“Unfortunately, as per University of Kentucky’s admission and attendance policies Jamal will not be with our team,” Canadian National Team coach Jay Triano told SNY.tv. “He will be part of this team in the future but we do not want to jeopardize his eligibility. It is the same situation Karl-Anthony Towns was in last year when he couldn’t play in the World Championships.”
SNY.tv reported earlier this week that a Canadian team source said it wasn’t “looking good” for Murray to play with Canada during Olympic qualifying Aug. 31-Sept. 12 in Mexico. Classes at Kentucky begin Aug. 26.
“Playing with these guys is always beneficial,” Murray told tsn.ca this past weekend of his Canadian teammates. “If you’re just playing one-on-one, even that helps. Just getting to know the intensity level, how guys move, how guys play, just little tips on the FIBA game – there’s a lot of holding and moving screens. So just getting used to all that and trying to figure my way around it.”
He added: “The team has done a good job [with me]. All the guys are willing to help me on the court and off the court, whether it’s plays or positioning on defence, stuff like that. They’ve all been good about giving me reminders on what I need to do on the defensive side, mostly.
“I sometimes go to those guys to just be around them and see where their head’s at about my game and what I need to do more or less.”
Still, the roster includes nine NBA players, including back-to-back No. 1 picks in Bennett and Wiggins, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.
“We’ve had an intense camp and we’re looking forward to transitioning into game play,” Triano said in a statement. “Tuto Marchand will give us an opportunity to play against some of our key competition prior to the Olympic qualifier.”
Below is Canada’s 13-man roster for the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup exhibition tournament in Puerto Rico from August 23-26, ahead of the 2015 FIBA Americas Men’s Championship in Mexico City.
2015 TUTO MARCHAND ROSTERNAME POSITION HEIGHT HOMETOWN CURRENT TEAM/CLUB
Bennett, Anthony F 6’8 Brampton, ON Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
Doornekamp, Aaron F 6’7 Odessa, ON Braunschweig (Germany)
Ejim, Melvin F 6’6 Toronto, ON Orlando Magic (NBA)
Hanlan, Olivier G 6’4 Aylmer, QC BC Zalgiris (Lithuania)
Heslip, Brady G 6’2 Burlington, ON Pallacanestro Cantù (Italy)
Joseph, Cory PG 6’3 Pickering, ON Toronto Raptors (NBA)
Nicholson, Andrew F 6’9 Mississauga, ON Orlando Magic (NBA)
Olynyk, Kelly C 7’0 Kamloops, BC Boston Celtics (NBA)
Powell, Dwight F 6’9 Toronto, ON Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
Sacre, Robert C 7’0 Vancouver, BC Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
Scrubb, Phil G 6’3 Richmond, BC AEK Athens (Greece)
Stauskas, Nik SG 6’6 Mississauga, ON Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
Wiggins, Andrew F 6’8 Vaughan, ON Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
As previously reported, Calipari has a “drop-dead” date the 6-foot-5 Murray would have to arrive on campus to begin the fall term and be eligible to compete for the full season.
“We think he’s at this level and he’s going to be a part of this program for the future, so we’re trying to get him involved right now,” Triano told SNY.tv last month on the 4 Quarters Podcast. “The biggest hurdle we’re going to have is the University of Kentucky because we want to make sure he does everything right by the school.
“Obviously, we want him to be a part of our team and that’s something we’re going to have to work out over the next couple of weeks.”
Murray’s ascension to the point where people are trying to get him onto the Senior National Team for its biggest competition in recent memory has been drastic. Triano, a Trail Blazers assistant, was in Portland on April 11 when Murray scored 30 points to lead the World Team past the United States at the Nike Hoop Summit. At that point, Triano thought Murray was ready for the National Team, so a plan was set in motion.
Canada Basketball officials held Murray back from the Under-19 World Championships with an eye toward having him playing at Pan Am. He was unexpectedly brilliant, averaging 16.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists in five games, highlighted by scoring all of his 22 in the fourth quarter and overtime in a semifinal win over the United States. Canada finished with the silver medal after having never medaled at the event.
“We anticipated he would get minutes and he would play, but we didn’t know to what level,” said Triano of Murray, who came off the bench for Canada in all five games, but was always on the floor in crunch time. “Early in our first couple scrimmages, we saw the kid had a good quickness to him. He could get to the rim, he knew how to make plays, knew how to score the ball and the more time we spent with him, we just felt he could be a major contributor to this team. He started earning more and more minutes as the tournament went on.”
Canada is attempting to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games when Steve Nash led it to a seventh-place finish. The top two teams at FIBA Americas are through to Rio. The third, fourth and fifth-place teams will be put in the 12-team FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will be contested next summer. The top three finishers out of there punch tickets to Rio.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.