SOUTH BEND – V.J. Beachem is adjusting well to being at Notre Dame, even as academics and basketball are starting to overlap.
The New Haven graduate began practice with the rest of his Irish teammates Friday, as they prepare for the programs first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference after moving out of the Big East this summer.
Its been pretty smooth really, Beachem said after practice Tuesday. Its great off the court. On the court, it is going to be challenging, but Im accepting the challenge, trying to work hard each and every day to make that transition easier.
Beachem said he is taking five classes – calculus, a drawing class, theology, common human diseases and a history seminar – during the fall semester.
The fall semester has been different from the classes he took during the summer when he enrolled at Notre Dame on June 17.
The funny thing is, the classes right now are a little slower, Beachem said. Because summer school, it is all condensed down into seven weeks. So it has been a little slower, but the workload has been more. Overall, it has been good. It hasnt been too tough, but it is still early. Im looking forward to the challenges off the court as well.
Beachem is also adjusting to having to be more competitive in practices.
He said he hasnt changed his game much since coming in from New Haven, but the 6-foot-8 freshman also said he has realized that more is demanded out of players in coach Mike Breys practices.
You cant take a play off in college, Beachem said. Its kind of tough with practice being from the tip a competition. I mean from the very beginning. I think staying engaged the entire practice is kind of tough.
Beachem said he has sought advice from senior point guard Eric Atkins as he makes the transition to playing at Notre Dame. Atkins has been impressed by Beachem, especially his scoring ability.
Hes always trying to find different ways to score. I try to help him out there, Atkins said He has a really smooth jumper. In my opinion, he has the best looking jumper on the team. I love watching him shoot. His basketball IQ is very high. I think the combination of him and (freshman guard) Demetrius (Jackson) will be a great backcourt in the future.
Beachem said he has also leaned on his fellow freshmen – Jackson, Austin Torres and Steve Vasturia – as they all get used to college.
The other three guys are definitely great guys, Beachem said. Its a joy having them around me. Ive been real close to Demetrius in our time coming up to here. Our relationship has stayed close, and Austin and Steve are great guys as well. We are really together a lot, so I think us being together has been good for all of us, having somebody pushing us and around us going through the same thing we are.
Brey hinted that Beachem might not play as a freshman when the forward signed with Notre Dame in November. Beachem said he has had no discussions with his coach but he plans to use the practices leading up to the season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 8 to prove he can help the Irish this season.
Thats one of my goals to show him what I can bring to the team that nobody else has, Beachem said.