HAVING already followed in his father’s footsteps at the University of North Dakota, Chris Clausen now hopes to accomplish what father Dan did 32 years ago by winning a championship with the Joondalup Wolves this Saturday night.
Clausen is in his first season with the Wolfpack having made the move from Adelaide to Perth to be with partner Nikita Martin, herself who knows what it’s like to win a championship in the SBL having done so at the Wolves back in 2013 where she was also Grand Final MVP.
Now Clausen’s focus is on attempting to become an SBL championship winner just like his father did at the Wolves back in 1986 when the club’s A Grade team won a State League championship.
He gets that chance this Saturday night with the Wolves playing the Perry Lakes Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre in the 2018 SBL Grand Final and it’s only fitting that Dan has made the trip from Adelaide to watch his son in action.
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Clausen arrived at the Wolves having already followed in his father’s footsteps in his two seasons playing NCAA Division 1 basketball at North Dakota before starring in South Australia’s Premier League as a club MVP and All-Star.
While his dad’s resume certainly is a lot to follow given he played seven NBL seasons and was an MVP runner-up, Clausen had made an immediate impact at the Wolfpack slotting in nicely to a team already stacked with talent and experience, but also that long-time chemistry.
Initially Clausen’s move to Perth was all about being closer to Martin, but playing at the same club as her made sense and the fact that it just happened to be where his dad had won a championship in 1986 meant that it added that extra bit of mystique.
“It kind of happened by chance because my partner plays for the girls’ team and I came over here to be with her,” Clausen said.
“I just wanted to play so it made sense to play for the same club so we’d be going to the same place to play every weekend. It just happened to be where my dad played as well and won a championship back in 1986 so that was a nice coincidence.
“He’s flying over this weekend to see the game and we went to the same college by chance as well where we both won a championship. Hopefully we can repeat that again this weekend.”
Having already won a championship at college like his dad did, Clausen is now embracing playing at the Wolves like he did too and especially to now have him in Perth to watch Saturday night’s Grand Final against the Hawks.
“It’s awesome to be playing where my dad did and to have that connection with him is great. It’s never really been planned, it’s just worked out that way and we have a real father-son connection through our basketball,” Clausen said.
“That’s something that is really special to me and hopefully we can get it done this weekend so it’s another thing we can say that we’ve both done. I was lucky enough at the end of last season to train with these guys so I had some time out at the old stadium which dad played at which was cool.”
Clausen might have enjoyed success at college, but championships aren’t something that have been too common throughout his career and that’s why he is so looking forward to what’s ahead on Saturday night, but the nerves are certainly kicking in too.
“I haven’t played in heaps over my lifetime, I played in one in college and apart from that it’s just in juniors,” he said.
“I’ve been in finals before but never made it to the big show so to be able to play a role and for the coach to put me in and know what I’m going to do is awesome. It’s great to feel a part of it.
“I definitely have some nerves going this week and excitement as well, I think it would be bad if you weren’t both of those things.
“It would be such a great way to cap off the season by winning the championship and I feel like it’s something we’ve pushed for and deserve if we can come out this weekend and play hard. I’m just hoping things go our way and we can have a fun couple of weeks’ celebrating.”
The Wolves have put together a tremendous playoffs campaign to date with four straight wins firstly against the Willetton Tigers and Stirling Senators having finished the regular season strongly after steadying from a run of losing four of six matches.
Clausen was glad that they’ve been able to get things right during the season and to now be firing so well in the playoffs where they ended both series with road wins in Game 2 including last Friday night over Stirling at Warwick Stadium.
“Going into last Friday, we just wanted to get it over and done with and knock them out on Friday night, we didn’t want it to go to a Game 3 where anything can happen,” Clausen said.
“Right from the get go it felt like we were in control of the game straight away. As soon as we hit a few buckets early we just felt like we’d have this if we kept playing hard.
“I suppose as a team we got to a point where we were just rocking up and winning no matter what so it was probably a good thing to have a couple of checks mid-season and still have time to get our form back rolling and our confidence up again.
“Obviously leading into the playoffs and now in the playoffs we feel like we’re rolling again, and we certainly aren’t taking it for granted. We aren’t coming into this Saturday thinking this is ours, we’re very aware what’s happened mid-season and also against Perry Lakes, so we’ll make sure we are prepared.”
While Clausen’s move to Perth had the obvious benefit of meaning he was around his partner more, really he didn’t know anyone in the state aside from those at the Wolves so they have become his family and he couldn’t be more appreciative of the way they have embraced him.
“I still have my friends back in Adelaide that I can talk to but these guys have been my close network of friends in Perth and any time things are going tough or anything, there are any one of 15 guys here who are happy to hang out or take my call or do something so that’s been really good,” he said.
“I suppose more than anything it’s been great to be able to feel a part of such a great group of guys. Moving to WA, I didn’t really know anybody when I came over and this is my group of friends here. To be so close to them having gone through the season and to now get to play for a championship and a medal at the end of the year is an awesome feeling.
“I just get along with the guys so well but they were so accepting of me when I came here to join the group. Right from the start the guys welcomed me with open arms really and both at practice and away from the court. Guys are always hitting me up to do things and it’s been really easy to become close with the guys and we’ve clicked really well.”
Clausen imagines he’ll move back to Adelaide at some stage but that’s not in the foreseeable future.
“I’m locked in here for next year so I’ll be back for another season at least for sure,” Clausen said.
“I’m from Adelaide obviously and so is my partner so we’ll go back there one day but I like it over here and I’m enjoying the ball. I still have three years left of uni too so I’m not really in too much of a hurry to move.”