The Canadian women gave their country a Canada Day treat when they qualified for the Olympics after winning the knockout bracket of the FIBA World Qualifying Tournament this summer. Now, they’ll look to play some tricks on their fellow competitors in Group B in their first Olympics since 2000.
Canada | Group B
Olympic Games history: After missing the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Canada returns for their fifth appearance. Their best finish was fourth, in 1984.
Place at 2010 FIBA World Championship: 12th (1-7 overall record)
How they got here: 2012 FIBA World Qualifying Tournament winners
Names you might recognize: The name most recognizable for me, personally, is Miranda Ayim. She played her collegiate basketball at Pepperdine and played briefly for the Tulsa Shock in 2011. If you’re a fan of Big East basketball you’ll know Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa. The junior forward is the first-ever international player for the Fighting Irish. As a key reserve for the squad that’s made two-consecutive national title game appearances, Achonwa averaged 7.2 points on 56.1 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds through her 75 games with Notre Dame.
Finally, the name you will most certainly be familiar with after the Games if you’re not already is Courtnay Pilypaitis. Pilypaitis, who played collegiately at Vermont, will be on the coaching staff for the Catamounts this fall. She finished her outstanding career at Vermont as the only player in NCAA Division I women’s basketball to record more than 1,900 points, 800 rebounds and 600 assists. Pilypaitis suffered a severe concussion April 26 in a Lithuanian playoff game that left her sidelined until June 2 and in question to make the national squad, but since she’s returned to the court she’s become Canada’s go-to player.
Statistical leaders: Pilypaitis averaged team highs with 12.6 points and 3.6 assists per game in Canada’s five games in the qualifying tournament. Krista Phillips posted a team-best 6.4 rebounds a night for the Canadians. Statistically, the team was pretty middle-of-the pack in a few categories – fifth (out of 12) in both points and assists per game – and this is despite the fact they had a tournament-high 89 points on 47.7 percent shooting in their contest against Mali. They were an even worse eighth in field goal percentage, sinking just 36.3 percent of their 317 total attempts overall. But Canada outrebounded the field by a lot, leading the way with 47.4 rebounds per game and 17.2 offensive boards a night.
Preliminary round schedule: vs. Russia (July 28), vs. Great Britain (July 30), vs. France (Aug. 1), vs. Brazil (Aug. 3), vs. Australia (Aug. 5)