Aug. 28, 2002
Former Santa Clara standout and all-West Coast Conference men's basketball performer Steve Ross has been added to the Team Canada squad for the World Championships.
Ross, who averaged 15.7 points per game for the Broncos last season, replaces six-foot-nine forward Andy Kwiatkowski who suffered a fractured bone in his right wrist.
Canada, who opens Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific) against Spain, will find it tough to get as far as the quarter-finals of the men's world basketball tournament in Indianapolis.
This is reality. But coach Jay Triano, who has poured all of himself into this project, prefers to accentuate the positive. "I don't ever place expectations on our team or make predictions," he said after practice Wednesday in the Indiana city. "I just make sure we're prepared and that we're going to go out and play to the best of our ability."
Please see below for Canada's roster
Canada's best results in 11 previous tournaments were sixth-place finishes in 1978 and 1982, which were impressive considering the country has no professional league in the sport.
The world championship is held every four years. Canada was 1-7 and 12th in 1998 in Athens.
But that wasn't Triano's baby.
This one is, and it would be an awesome accomplishment for the dedicated but outgunned players in his lineup to return home among the top eight or repeat the 2000 Olympics success in Australia when Canada finished seventh.
Following Thursday's opener, Canada plays Friday against Angola (noon), and is back on the court Saturday against defending-champion Yugoslavia (noon). Live action can be seen on cable in Canada via Rogers Sportsnet.
Triano's troubles worsened when he learned before the flight south Tuesday that six-foot-nine forward Andy Kwiatkowski of Kitchener, Ont., who could be counted on for an average of 14 points a game during the buildup to the championship, was out of the tournament because of a fractured bone in his right wrist.
Kwiatkowski was hurt in a collision with China's Yao Ming in an exhibition game last week in Vancouver. When the wrist failed to respond to treatment, X-rays revealed it was more than a deep bruise.
"We're going to have to rally together again," said Triano. "The team has had a lot to rally around this summer.
"We have to find a way to get 14 more points into our lineup and everybody is going to have to play a role in doing that. We won't dwell on it. That's why we have alternate players. As sad as I feel for Andy, I have to make sure my focus is on the guys who are here."
Triano had already felt the disappointment of rejections from Canadians who play for NBA teams. He does not have one NBA player on his roster.
Four turned down the chance: Dallas Mavericks (and former Santa Clara) star Steve Nash of Victoria, who was instrumental in the Summer Games breakthrough, cited fatigue; Philadelphia 76ers giant Todd MacCulloch of Winnipeg and New Orleans Hornets forward Jamaal Magloire of Toronto said they were recovering from injuries; and Los Angeles Lakers veteran Rick Fox of Toronto offered undisclosed personal reasons.
"There's not much we can do about it," said Triano. "We're not concerned about it now.
"Would we like to have our NBA guys? Most certainly. But we'll compete as hard as we can and concentrate on the guys who are here."
Canada will be an underdog in its opener against Spain, which has NBA rookie of the year Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Canada's starting five will be forwards Michael Meeks of Brampton, Ont., Rowan Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., centre Kevin Jobity of Toronto, and guards Titus Channer of Hamilton and David Thomas of Toronto.
"They're very energized and ready to play a game," said Triano. "We've had a lot of practices and exhibition games and the team seems ready to play now.
"We want to find out where we are as a team. Whether that be good or bad, we'll work from there and improve every time out."
The Kwiatkowski lineup spot goes to Steve Ross of Victoria.
"The key to our success will be our rebounding and our team defence," said Triano.
One thing is for sure: the coach and his players aren't sulking about the setbacks.
"This group is mentally strong," said Triano. "We've had a lot of bad luck but we're not sitting around crying about it."
There are 16 teams divided into four groups of four. The top three countries in each group after the preliminary round advance.
Yugoslavia won the title in 1998 when the United States didn't use NBA players because they were involved in a labour dispute.
With NBA stars back on the world court this time, including Antonio Davis of the Toronto Raptors, the Americans are overwhelming favourites.
The U.S. is 53-0 in international games when using NBA players since they were allowed into the Olympics in 1992.
Canada's roster for the men's world basketball championships beginning Thursday in Indianapolis with age, home town, position, height and club team:
Richard Anderson, 24, Ottawa, forward, 6-6, Mattersburg, Austria.
Rowan Barrett, 29, Mississauga, forward, 6-5, Maccabi, Israel.
Titus Channer, 29, Hamilton, guard, 6-2, Bancourt, Switzerland.
Sherman Hamilton, 30, Mississauga, guard, 6-1, Zalgiris, Lithuania.
Kevin Jobity, 27, Toronto, forward, 6-10, Anibal, Lebanon.
Prosper Karangwa, 24, Montreal, guard, 6-6, Siena College.
Michael Meeks, 30, Brampton, Ont., forward, 6-9, Fabriano, Italy.
Greg Meldrum, 29, Vancouver, forward, 6-7, Thames Valley, England.
Steve Ross, 21, Victoria, forward, 6-7, Santa Clara University.
Shawn Swords, 28, Ottawa, guard, 6-4, Roseto, Italy.
David Thomas, 25, Toronto, guard, 6-8, Canberra, Australia.
Novell Thomas, 26, Richmond, B.C., guard, 6-0, Simon Fraser University.