Written by Aeryn McMurtry
Junior forward Josh Freund made some serious waves in the 2017-2018 basketball season.
Recently, Freund was awarded 1st Team All-ODAC, ODAC Player of the Year and most notably, 2nd Team All-American. On the season, the focal point of Roanoke’s offense averaged 18.4 points per game, while shooting 60.1% from the field. And despite the prestige of these achievements, Freund is humble.
“I’m not too big on personal awards, but it’s nice to see that hard work pays off,” said Freund.
The Maroons played in the ODAC Men’s Basketball Tournament on Feb. 23 – Feb. 25, rounding out their season with a 20-8 record. The team went into the tournament hot off of a nine game winning streak, but Freund said that they didn’t let that go to their heads.
“We treated it like a new season,” he says. “We were just taking it one game at a time. Each game was treated like the championship game. It was win or go home at that point. We just wanted to put ourselves in the right position to be successful.”
The RC men’s basketball team lost to Emory & Henry in an edge-of-your-seat intense final game, with an end score of 72-70.
Freund said that his relationship with coach Clay Nunley has a major influence on him. “I love [Nunley] as a coach. I think his attitudes as a coach and as a player reflect mine. We have kind of the same mindset. We want to win, and we want to win the right way. We don’t really have to be fancy or flashy, but if we do the right things and lock in on defense, its really gonna set us to be able to win like we did last season.”
Freund described that “winning the right way” involves having a clear game plan. “You’ve got teams that can come out and ‘get hot’ from shooting the ball,” Freund said. “They’re not concerned about the other team offensively, they just hope that their shots go in more than the other team. It’s kind of just ‘loose’ basketball, like AAU or travel basketball where you try to ‘out hoop’ the other team, and it’s not really what wins.”
The 2016/17 season was Freund’s first year as a Maroon, and he didn’t play nearly as much as he did in the most recent season. He said that he does feel like he’s improved, both technically and as a team leader.
Freund concedes that is he a leader and a captain, but he feels like all of the players share the responsibility of being leaders. “I don’t think it necessarily has to be the captains. Maybe there are guys that [lead] a little more often that try to set the tone, but if you get a couple freshmen to step up and be vocal in practice, that can go a long way. [Personally] I hold people accountable to do the right thing. First, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable and that’s probably the hardest thing,” Freund said. “A player lead team is better than a coach lead team.”
The dynamic of the team is also important for Freund. “We’re all friends, really all family. We’ve got a nice little culture that we’ve built… It’s not just basketball. We all love each other,” said Freund. He also says that the fans play a big role in his game. “Fans are always there showing support, and I love it. It’s hard to pack Cregger, but sometimes it gets pretty loud. I think we had a great home record this season, and a lot of that comes from the fans,” Freund said.
Off of the basketball court, this student athlete also manages to balance an academic and personal life around his busy schedule.
“I like to hang out with my friends, play a little Fortnite here and there. If I’m hanging with a cool group of guys, I’m down to do pretty much anything,” Freund said.
After finishing this season strong, Freund said that he looks forward to next season, saying, “I want to do something special. Something that hasn’t been seen in a while.”