In this TIB exclusive Players’ Blog Belgian Forward Hans Vanwijn will discuss his experiences throughout the season on a regular basis. This season is Vanwijn’s first season abroad as he plays for Dijon in the French first division.
Preparing the new season.
Our preparation already started on August 3rd with the focus mainly being on improving our conditioning and becoming physically stronger. The first 2 to 3 weeks especially were extremely intense and tiring. Our coach is very defensively orientated and expects everyone to be in peak shape in order to put a lot of pressure on their opponents and to be able to make the defensive rotations.
At the end of August we then started to play preparation games and during practices the focus shifted more to 5 against 5 situations, on both ends of the court. Every week we’re being tested for Covid-19 at least once or twice but so far we actually haven’t really been hampered by it, although one player tested positive and had to stay at home for 2 weeks.
We then finished our preparation with our first official game, an important victory against Niznhy Novgorod* to qualify for the Quarter-Finals of the 2019-’20 Champions League which will be played in Athens on September 30th.
(* Hans played 21 minutes and recorded 4 points, 2 rebounds & 1 assist).
Adapting to a higher level.
I was able to adapt pretty quickly to my new team, although I do notice – especially during the games – that the game is played at a faster pace and is a lot more physical. I clearly sense that I’m a lot more focused during practices and games to make as few mistakes as possible.
The first 2 games were a bit rough as I still had to adapt to the new system. On top of that I’m now mainly playing the 4-spot, which is quite a change from last year where I mainly played the 3-spot and could more easily exploit my height advantage.
I do notice that I am making a lot of progress thanks to this, because there’s never any time to relax or take it a bit easier. Sometimes I do wonder though if it would’ve helped me more if I had already played at this level 2-3 years ago.
The biggest eye-opener so far.
The biggest surprise to me was not really the physical aspect of the game, but rather the tactical aspect. Especially in a team like Dijon. The coach (Laurent Legname) often says: “With me, you have to use your brain!”
In offense and in defense there are a lot of rules that you just can not deviate from. The slightest mistake will immediately get punished. We also often adapt our systems in offense according to the defense of the opponent, which takes almost an entire week to work on.
We spend a lot of time watching videos of our opponents so we know exactly what to do in defense. It is very simple: if you make mistakes against these rules during the game, you can immediately go take a seat on the bench. This obviously ensures that you remain very aggressive and very focused throughout the entire game.
Next up for us is our first home-game of the regular season against ASVEL* which will be shown on National TV. We then travel to Athens to play our Champions League Quarter-Finals match-up against Turk Telekom.
– Hans Vanwijn (translation by Sven De Bolster).
(* Vanwijn played 22 minutes off the bench and recorded 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals & 1 block as Dijon won it 81-74).