A Look At Siena Freshman Willem Brandwijk


photo courtesy of SienaSaints.com

Freshman Willem Brandwijk is a multi-dimensional, talented player  who is sure to grab the attention of Saints fans over the next four years. He did just that at a recent practice drawing quite the reaction from fans in attendance as well as his teammates when during a scrimmage he received an alley-oop pass and reverse slammed it down with authority. At 6-8. 229 he can step out and hit the outside jumper as well, drive the lane from the perimeter and kick to the open man and rebound on both ends of the floor. He is a hard worker with good fundamentals and a great attitude about the game .

With all of the ability and potential in the world coach Jimmy Patsos knows it is important to temper the excitement about what Bradwijk will become with the reality of what all freshmen must go through. While all of the returning players have a head start in knowing Patsos system, newcomers are starting fresh. Patsos explains that last year, the whole team was learning the first two or three options of his plays together under their first year coach. This season, the returners have an advantage and while they are learning fourth and fifth options, Brandwijk and the other freshmen are learning it all at once.

“So far it’s been pretty tough for me, just the change from high school to college,” said Brandwijk. “Jimmy as a coach is different from the high school level but he’s taught me a lot.”

After coming to Siena during the summer session, Brandwijk was given a sneak preview into the system and plays he would need to learn under Patsos and staff. This gave him a basis of what he would incorporate into his off season work outs when he returned home to Voorburg, The Netherlands.

“Over the summer I worked with my coach from back home on the things we (Siena) can do from out of our plays, working on when I get open, making those shots and executing when I get the ball,” Brandwijk said.

If Brandwijk does not see major minutes out of the gate, it will likely be due to that adjustment period which comes with being a freshman. Still it seems likely when watching him in action, Brandwijk will become a more significant contributor as the season progresses.

As far as the game itself, Brandwijk admittedly has found the physical nature of the college game to be something he needs to adjust to. He sees a difference in what the college game brings compared to the game he played growing up.

“I’m still a little bit too soft because I’m from Europe where the game is a lot different,” explains Brandwijk. “That’s what I’m working on right now and Coach Luke is helping me a lot so that’s been the biggest adjustment for me.”

To those who have witnessed his efforts in preseason practices, one can see a focus in this area is paying off as he is attacking the basket and hitting the offensive glass aggressively as well as competing on the defensive end and battling on the boards with more authority.

While assistant coach Luke D’Alessio was heavily involved in Brandwijk’s recruitment out of the Holderness School in New Hampshire, he was also drawn to play for the Saints by Patsos’ enthusiastic style. Now having had the opportunity to be coached by Patsos he finds himself appreciating his head coach’s approach even more.

“To be honest, I love it because he’s not afraid to say what he thinks.,” said Brandwijk. “Some coaches are afraid to say something about a player because maybe he’s going to catch it wrong and he’s only gonna play worse. He’s not scared of that. He’s going to go straight at the points of what you are doing wrong so you then think, hey he’s right. In Dutch we say he really steps on your toes. And that’s a good thing. Of course in the beginning I had to get a little used to it cause I was like, whoa this never happened to me before. What I’m working on  right now is to take the information and show that I can do it.”

Despite all of the adjustments he is going through, Brandwijk smiles when discussing his time so far in Loudonville. He loves being a Saint both on and off the court. In choosing Siena, Brandwijk found the perfect combination of the small close-knit community feel with the big-time high level support for the basketball program.

“It was the great atmosphere,” explains Brandwijk. “It’s a family but still you’re being treated almost like a professional and that’s really something cause it was always a dream for me. When I was from Europe when you follow college basketball, you follow bigger teams with big-time arenas and here we have the Times Union Center of course.”

Brandwijk got a real taste of what it was like to play in front of the Siena faithful while attending a home game during a visit last February.

Brandwijk describes, “I went to the Canisius game and unfortunately they lost but it was a great triple overtime game and it was amazing. It was a Sunday afternoon which was a day you would think not a lot of people would go to a basketball game but there was so many people and I just feel so honored to be able to play there.”

With the season about to begin, Brandwijk certainly looks forward to the opener on the road vs. UMass but is equally excited for the first home game of his collegiate career against Vermont on November, 17th.

“I’m looking forward to the first home game,” Brandwijk said. I just can’t wait to be able to play at the Times Union and I hope there’s a lot of people of course. It’s going to be a dream come true definitely.”

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