Sconnie Sports Talk

Wisconsin men’s basketball: Getting to know Andy Van Vliet

Photo courtesy of David Stluka (Wisconsin Athletics)


MADISON — One Badger who really impressed last weekend in the Brain Cancer Awareness Game against UW-Platteville was sophomore Andy Van Vliet. The seven-footer from Belgium sat out last year due to an eligibility rule by the NCAA.

In the exhibition against UW-Platteville, Van Vliet scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds, including four offensive boards, in just 12 minutes.

Van Vliet and the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers will be going against tough competition once again this season, but Badgers fans should be excited about what they’ve seen thus far.

It obviously wasn’t an easy experience last season for Van Vliet, moving to a whole new country and then not even being able to play in the games with his teammates. He has a positive outlook about it all, though.

“Looking back, everything I did was for a better education, and to get better, so it wasn’t on purpose, it wasn’t to get in trouble, but that’s what happened. It’s behind me right now, and I’m ready,” Van Vliet said.

The Belgian big didn’t just put in work in the classroom though, but also the weight room.

“I gained 25 pounds, and it does so much to me confidence wise…being able to bang down low. I’ve still got a ways to go, but just confidence-wise it does a lot.”

The transition wasn’t easy at first as Van Vliet didn’t enjoy American food, but was able to change some of his eating habits.

“Mainly changing the times I eat, like right after practice, and how many times. Like 5-6 times a day, getting a shake in there, going to class, taking food. Like not eating two big meals, but like five smaller times.”

That being said, Van Vliet quickly became a big fan of Chipotle.

“One of my friends really liked it, so I tried it and now it’s easier with the Red Card. I have it like four times a week, almost every day.”

He went zero to 100 real quick on the Chipotle bandwagon, and of course has a go-to order.

“Probably a bowl with rice and chicken, and a burrito with rice, chicken, veggies and tomatoes in it. Both of those and I’m good.”

Now that he is more accustomed to food and off the court life in this country, Van Vliet is also more than ready to make his presence felt on the court.

“Whatever Coach wants me to do…I just want to help the team win. Like I said before, I have my shooting, I put on weight and I have more confidence now too.”

“When I’m out there, and Ethan is in the post, it just creates more space…other teams have to respect my shot, but they also have to respect his post moves. We have a lot of players that can create mismatches, so I think that will be something that we can use.”

Van Vliet is known for his big man shooting abilities and soft touch, but also has learned a lot from his teammates like Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ.

“Just the way they attack the defense, and use their strengths. So for me to go against them after watching them, in practice you can try to use those moves against them. Being able to go against them…it’s perfect to be able to see what the college game is like.”

So, what should Badgers fans know about his game?

“That’s a tough one…we’ve got a confident group. We’re really confident in ourselves, and we think we can do it, so like I said, never giving up on plays, being confident and winning.”

A very unselfish and confident answer from the Badgers’ first foreign player in 12 years.

Fans should be very excited to see what Van Vliet can add to an already talented and experienced roster for the Badgers.

Wisconsin begins the season against Central Arkansas on November 11.