By: Cole Shelton
Joel Friesen is a veteran of the NBLC. He is entering his fourth season in the league, but this year he is not with the London Lightning. Rather, Friesen made the decision to sign with the KW Titans in which for him has been a fantastic move.
"It turned out for the better and I'm extremely happy to be where I'm at now with KW," Friesen said. "I just try and contribute the best that I can and I think I guess statistically I'm in a good place. Just very excited to see what this team can do down the stretch."
When the Titans brought in Friesen, he was expected to be a leader and an offensive focal point. So far, through the 14 games, Friesen has played, he has done exactly that. He is currently averaging 16.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 48.7% from the field and 44% from three. That play has helped the Titans win some games and start to climb back into the playoff picture.
For Friesen, although he missed the first part of the season, he believes he is back to normal and his play has been showing that.
"I think I have been playing well. The coach and my teammates have allowed me to be aggressive out there and create for myself and my teammates," he said. "I just feel like I'm playing at a high-level at this point.
"I did come a little bit late to the season, like five games in. That is when I feel like the adjustment happened, although it wasn't much of an adjustment," Friesen continued. "My role changed a little bit, and as I said before, Cavell and my teammates made it a very smooth transition. Just a good group of guys made it really easy for me to fit in as a big piece for this team."
A big reason why Friesen has had success with the Titans is that of the fact that he is shooting the ball well. Since joining the league four years ago, Friesen has been one of the best shooters in the league, and he's continued that trend with KW.
"I mean I have always shot the ball pretty well," Friesen said. "I'm around 40% for my career as a pro and university. I definitely put a lot of pride and a lot of work on my jumper and increasing my range. Just making sure my shot is consistent as possible. I think mentally I'm in a good place and that always helps the ball go in."
While he is an offensive focal point, something else Friesen excels at is defence. He always hustles back to get into position and helps create turnovers or force bad shots. This has helped the Titans have a much better defensive system than they did last season.
"I think defence is one of the most important parts of the game. It is intangible," Friesen explained. "It's about how hard are you willing to work, and do you have pride in being able to stop someone as a team and individually? I kind of let my offence run off of my defence. Defence has always been a big part of my game even as my offence has gotten better. It's about energy and hard work, It's just something you can teach it but it's a mindset. Being able to be that dog and just wanting to get stops."
Nonetheless, the Titans need to start to get back to their winning ways. For Friesen, he knows this team has what it takes to go on a long winning streak and make the playoffs. Once they do that, they are confident they can make some noise in the playoffs.
"We have great team chemistry," he said. "We've had lots of little adjustments we have had to deal with as a team that will help us grow as characters as we enter the second half of the season and into the playoffs. We know we still haven't played our best basketball yet, and we know we will be a team to beat. Things are going really well."
No matter what, Friesen is continuing to get play professional basketball in his home country. That is something he never thought was possible when he was a kid growing up playing basketball. Being able to do this for the fourth-year now is something special.
"It is my fourth year in the league now, I have some championships under my belt. As a Canadian in a pro league, it means a lot," Friesen said. "To see where it all started, when I started to get into competitive basketball, I never thought I could play pro and stay in Canada and have success as I have. I'm very patriotic so it feels great to be able to represent my country and show, look you can do this. You can be successful playing pro basketball without going D-1, NCAA or heading overseas. It's awesome for me, and it should be inspirational for young Canadian hooper out there."
For now, it is back to the grind and continuing to get better.