Oct. 31, 2013
Exhibition Game 2
Friday, Nov. 1, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - While Monday night's exhibition game signaled the start of the 2013-14 season for the Notre Dame men's basketball team and the long-awaited appearance of McDonald's All-American and Mishawaka native Demetrius Jackson on the court of Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, two other rookies -- forward V.J. Beachem and guard Steve Vasturia -- certainly caught the eyes of Irish fans in attendance.
Playing 15 minutes off the bench, Beachem scored four points, grabbed two rebounds, dished off four assists, blocked two shots made a steal and didn't commit a turnover. Vasturia's stat line was equally as impressive as he scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds in 13 minutes. The former two-time Catholic League Player of the Year who scored 1,766 points during his prep career connected on three-of-four shots from the field and two-of-three from beyond the arc. Soon after entering the game on Monday night, Vasturia calmly knocked down his first shot -- a three-pointer from the left side of the baseline right in front of the Indianapolis bench.
Jackson, who no doubt will grab headlines from time-to-time throughout the season, had a good first outing as well as he played 21 minutes, scored 10 points (one of six players in double figures) and dished off four assists. Jackson also did not commit a turnover.
Another freshman, and local product, Austin Torres, who played at Penn High School, played seven minutes, scored two points and dished off one assist.
The play of all four freshmen was not surprising to Brey who has been effusive in his praise of all four ever since they arrived on campus for summer school in June.
"I've been very pleased with the way our freshmen have handled their business since getting to school," Brey has said on numerous occasions. "They've done everything right both on the court and in the classroom. It's a very mature group with a high basketball IQ that just knows how to play the game."
Beachem or Vasturia showed few, or little, jitters on Monday night when they entered the contest. Both credit the coaching staff and the veteran players on the team with helping with the transition to the college game.
"It was a good feeling to get out there," says Beachem, a 6-8, 187-pound forward out of Fort Wayne, Ind. "I felt really comfortable with my teammates and I love playing with them because they are so easy to play with on the court.
"I had been looking forward to getting out there in a Notre Dame uniform the past two years ever since I committed to come to school here."
"I think my overall athleticism is going to help our team this season," Beachem says. "I hope I can bring energy onto the floor when I am on the court. I love playing in Coach Brey's system and our style of play. The first couple of exhibition games are for getting used to playing with the guys and get a feel for being out there in game situations."
While the feel of playing in Purcell Pavilion may take a couple of games to get used to, Beachem will have one constant from his high school days that he can count on --his parents at the game. The two-hour drive from Fort Wayne ensures that his two biggest supporters will be at nearly every home contest.
"It is a great feeling knowing my parents are going to be out there watching me at all of my games," Beachem says. "When I made my decision to come to Notre Dame, it's one of the things that I considered having them so close to be there in the stands watching me play."
Like Beachem, Vasturia also had a certain comfort level being on the Purcell court for the first time on Monday night. Irish fans will find that the 6-6, 207 pound guard out of Medford, N.J., who played at St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia, has a style reminiscent of another former Notre Dame sharpshooter from that area, Matt Carroll (1999-2003).
"It was a great experience and really fun being out there," Vasturia says. "The older guys on the team have been great. Just going up against them in practice has really helped me improve my game. I love the environment that we have here at Notre Dame. It was a good feeling to knock down my first shot."
The challenge for Vasturia thus far has been adjusting to the pace of the college game, but if Monday night is any indication, that has done little to effect his shooting game.
"The biggest challenge is knowing that every day you have to come in and work hard," he says. "It's a lot faster game at this level than it was in high school and that is what I am going to have to get used to. We've got a great team and I want to bring a lot of energy on the court when I enter the game. I just want to come in and knock down my shots."