Marion, Morrison, Ridnour left off national team
LAS VEGAS -- LeBron James already knew his name would be called when coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the U.S. national team's 15-man traveling roster Tuesday.
It still gave James a thrill to hear he's definitely headed to Asia next month for the world championships.
On Tuesday, Mike Krzyzewski announced the 15-man traveling roster for the U.S. national team. The roster must be trimmed to 12 by Aug. 18.
"I wasn't sweating, but it makes basketball a lot more fun when you're with a great team, and when you're around guys you know," James said. "Guys were great about coming in here and not having a personal agenda. We're just all here to make a team, and we've got to do it as quickly as possible."
Adam Morrison, Luke Ridnour and Shawn Marion -- who has a minor knee injury -- were not among the players selected for the roster by Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo after a weeklong training camp in Las Vegas.
Amare Stoudemire and Kirk Hinrich were the only moderately surprising inclusions on the 15-man roster, which will play warmup games in Las Vegas, China and Korea before opening the world championships in Japan next month.
"Why not be a part of something that you can be proud of doing for the rest of your life?" asked Paul, who emerged as the Americans' probable starting point guard with a dynamite training camp. "We'd probably just be watching TV and playing pickup ball this summer."
After three more days of workouts, the club will play an exhibition game against Puerto Rico in Las Vegas before heading for Asia. Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff must trim the roster to 12 players by Aug. 18 -- one day before his club begins the world championships in Sapporo.
"This week was more about putting in the foundation for a system and building camaraderie," Krzyzewski said. "We accomplished that this week, and now we have to start doing some more basketball stuff so we look like we know what we're doing."
Krzyzewski also revealed a few nuggets of strategy for the tournament: He doesn't plan to have a regular starting lineup, and nobody will play all 40 minutes in any game. The Duke coach wouldn't mind using all 12 players in most games -- another way to keep his players' legs fresh and confidence high.
Marion, Morrison and Ridnour weren't cut from the U.S. team in the new selection system championed by Colangelo -- they just weren't included on this roster. Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, who couldn't play next month because of injuries or family commitments, still are candidates for future U.S. teams as well.
In all, 24 players and non-roster invitee Greg Oden will be in the mix for training and competition for at least the next three years, through the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Marion, the Phoenix Suns' three-time NBA All-Star, only felt the soreness in his left knee in the final days of training camp. He was just one of five U.S. players remaining from the 2004 Olympic team, which won disappointing bronze medals.
"I just told the guys they've got to respect each other and play hard," said Marion, who will have an MRI exam this week. "It's a great group, and they're going to bring it home."
Marion's absence deprives the American club of a veteran international performer, a versatile defender and one of its best athletes. Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo revealed they secretly decided to take 16 players to Asia before Marion's injury developed Monday.
"I keep talking, I'm going to start crying," Krzyzewski joked after listing Marion's attributes.
Hinrich, the Chicago Bulls' point guard, beat out Ridnour for the ostensible third-string spot behind Paul and Arenas. Hinrich was slowed by a hamstring injury during training camp, but apparently did enough to impress Krzyzewski.
Stoudemire earned a spot on the traveling team with a remarkable comeback from surgery on both knees during last season with the Suns, when he played in three NBA games. The 6-foot-10 forward looked strong and mobile during training camp despite struggling during summer-league play a few weeks ago.
"It's a great feeling," Stoudemire said. "This is a great opportunity to show your abilities to the rest of the world, and I didn't want to miss it."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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