While Wisconsin fans were sleeping last night, the Badgers basketball team beat the New Zealand Breakers for the second straight time. While the last game was fairly close, this one was a 87-53 domination. Like the first matchup, the game was disappointingly not streamed. However, there are a few important conclusions that can be drawn from the box score and highlights.
The most noteworthy story from the game was the play of junior forward Andy Van Vliet. He led the Badgers with 14 points. The importance of that cannot be overstated. For the last two years Van Vliet rode the bench, never even showing a glimmer of his unlimited potential. Whether it was his light weight, his lack of toughness, or his difficulty adjusting to the America, Van Vliet was never able to contribute.
This performance shows that something might have changed. Hitting 4/5 of his three-point attempts means he is shooting with regained confidence. His seven rebounds are probably an even more important number for his chances at playing time. If Van Vliet can build off this performance, he could be the missing piece needed to bolster Wisconsin’s front court. One of Wisconsin’s junior forwards needed to step up and claim minutes, and it looks like Van Vliet has struck first.
The other important conclusion that can be drawn by this game is that Wisconsin will be reliant on the three-pointer. Through two games, the Badgers have attempted 50 shots from beyond the arc. In their latest game, they attempted 30 of them! So far, they are going in. They hit 50% in both games, which means this team might be a better shooting team than we saw last season. If they can keep creating open looks from beyond the arc like they have in the first two games, the Badgers will have a solid season. They have too many shooters to not take advantage of all the open looks.
Wisconsin’s next game will be on August 19th against the Hawthorn Magic, and like the others, will probably not be streamed. It will be important for Van Vliet to build off this stellar outing in that one.