Canada’s Court Week 12: Friesen’s Injury Presents Opportunities for Burgeoning Canadians

Canada’s Court Week 12: Friesen’s Injury Presents Opportunities for Burgeoning Canadians

Windsor's Tate makes first appearance

By José Colorado

Joel Friesen's injury has freed up the grid lock.

With the KW Titans' guard likely to miss a sizable amount of time due to a nasty ankle injury suffered on Jan.24, Canada's Court has had to put his spot up for grabs.

Luckily for NBLC fans, filling that position has no shortage of worthy candidates as players such as Terry Thomas (Halifax Hurricanes), Guillaume Boucard (Island Storm), Chris Johnson (Cape Breton Highlanders), Aaron Redpath (Highlanders) and more have all consistently been lurking in the shadows.

Some simply have not made the list yet due to a logistical need of games participation (see Thomas and Boucard) while others have not quite overcome their contemporaries when it comes to statistical output in a year littered with talented Canadians.

Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that with Friesen's injury fans can expect to see a bevy of new faces emerging in the coming weeks.

1. Garrett Williamson (Lower Merion, PA.)
Team: London Lightning (12-15)
Stats this week: 
14 points per game (43 per cent field goal shooting), 7.67 rebounds, 3.67 assists, one steal, three games played
Season stats:  16.8 points per game (53.2 per cent field goal shooting), 5.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists

In a down shooting week, Garrett Williamson found a multitude ways to contribute as the guard twice finished just one rebound shy of a double-double while tying a season-high in steals  (three) in a three-game span.

Even when suffering through his worst game of the year with a season-low two points on one-of-seven shooting against the Highlanders on Feb.1, Williamson was able to stay mentally tough and made his only basket - a buzzer-beating layup - to seal the win for the Lightning.

The American – Canadian– having played a double-overtime game just two nights earlier – then followed suit by bouncing back offensively as he collected 24 points, five rebound and four assists in 34 minutes versus Halifax.

Although Cape Breton's Jamal Reynolds may hold the slight edge when it comes to points and rebounds, Williamson has proven himself to be a steely competitor – exemplified by this past week's showing.

He takes over the No.1 spot for week 12.

2. Jamal Reynolds (Pickering, ONT.)
Team: Cape Breton Highlanders (14-10)
Stats this week: 
  Nine points (25 per cent field goal shooting), four rebounds, one steal, one game played
Season stats:   17.5 points per game (55.6 per cent field goal shooting), 9.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Reynolds was held to single-digit scoring for just the first time in the past 12 games as the forward collected nine points on one-of-four shooting in his duel against Williamson.

Granted the Pickering-native did only see 22 minutes –just the seventh time in 24 games the forward has seen below 25 minutes of court time – and he did his fair share by impacting the game with eight free throw attempts and four rebounds within said time frame.

But as the Highlanders – losers of three straight - have stumbled so too have the shooting efforts of Reynolds.

The Canadian is now just six-of-22 (27.27 per cent) during that skid - well below his 55.6 per cent season average – while only averaging 11.33 points.

Expect the six-foot-four forward to get back on track but for the meanwhile he drops to No.2.

3. Ashton Smith (Scarborough, ONT.)
Team: KW Titans (11-11)
Stats this week:
  12.33 points per game (47 per cent field goal shooting), 5.67 rebounds, four assists, three games played  
Season stats:  13.5 points per game (49.8 per cent field goal shooting), 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists

Had it not been for some poor foul-shooting, Ashton Smith could have come away with one of his better scoring weeks as the point guard shot just four-of-12 from the charity stripe.

Nonetheless the Scarborough product did still put forth a well-rounded trio of games as the Titan twice hit five-plus assists and rebounds while notching two double-digit scoring efforts.

With Friesen out, Smith certainly has lost a valuable catch-and-shoot asset on the perimeter.

But as long as the floor general stays aggressive off pick-and-roll actions he should be able to maintain his spot amongst the league's top playmakers in the meanwhile.

He's currently fifth in the league in assists; first amongst Canadians.

4. Junior Cadougan (North York, ONT.)
Team: St. John's Edge (13-8)
LW RANK: Unranked
Stats this week:
  20 points per game (55 per cent field goal shooting), 4.5 rebounds, five assists, one steal, two games played
Season stats:  12.4 points per game (47.8 per cent field goal shooting), 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists

Is there any Canadian playing better than Junior Cadougan at the moment?

The Toronto legend put in another monstrous week as the St. John's Edge point guard shot a blistering 55 per cent from the floor and went perfect from the free throw line (14-of-14) en route to weekly averages of 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and five assists in a pair of games versus the Hurricanes.

Just to put Cadougan's mid-season surge into perspective, the six-foot-two guard averaged four points and 2.8 assists in November (four games).

In December those numbers were 10.2 and three(nine games).

For January?

19.1 and 4.5 (eight games).

With the Edge seemingly improving on a daily basis with numerous high-profile moves, Cadougan's life should only get easier from here with defenses unable to key in on the gritty scorer.

5. Tyrrel Tate (Calgary, ALTA.)
Team: Windsor Express (13-10)
LW RANK: Unranked
Stats this week:
   15 points (38.5 per cent field goal shooting), five rebounds, two assists
Season stats:   13.9 points (49.7 per cent field goal shooting), 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Tyrrel Tate has quietly remained one of the most consistent Canadian scorers in the NBLC throughout his 16 games with the Windsor Express.

And with the Storm's Alex Campbell slowly fizzling out and the injury to the Titans' Friesen, the timing is perfect for the Calgary-native to make his first appearance on Canada's Court.

When it comes to buckets, Tate has tallied double-digit scoring in his past five games while eclipsing the 20-point barrier twice already despite coming in mid-season.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the 26-year-old's game however must be his free-throw efficiency as the guard currently ranks seventh in the league at 85.7 per cent and tenth when it comes to makes.

It's a unique skillset that allows Tate to transform off-shooting nights into solid point production totals as the former G-Leaguer can consistently draw – and make - nearly every foul shot.

With so many strong Canadians emerging, the six-foot-five guard must continue to do what he does best to remain in the discussion: get buckets, score efficiently and knock down free throws.

Sixth Man:
Guillaume Boucard, Island Storm (Montreal, Que.)

17.3 points per game (43.4 per cent field goal shooting), 8.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists (seven games played)