SOUTH BEND – Freshmen could play roles in Notre Dame's basketball success this season.
Coach Mike Brey said Wednesday that point guard Demetrius Jackson will be a big part of the team, and he also said former New Haven standout V.J. Beachem, a forward, and guard Steve Vasturia could contribute more than other freshmen have in the past for the Irish.
"I have less question about a freshman class in the history of my 14 years," Brey said. "They have been solid and dependable."
Jackson played the most in the Irish's two exhibition victories. He played 21 minutes and had 10 points and four assists in a 95-69 win over Indianapolis, and played 18 minutes and had 10 points and two assists in a 93-44 win over Tusculum.
But Beachem and Vasturia had their chances to impress, too, as the No. 21 Irish get ready to open the season at home Friday night against Miami (Ohio).
The 6-8, 187-pound Beachem had four points, four assists and two rebounds in 15 minutes against Indianapolis, and had seven points, four rebounds, an assist and two steals in 14 minutes against Tusculum.
Vasturia played 13 minutes against Indianapolis and had eight points and two rebounds, and he had two points, four rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes against Tusculum.
"They have to be ready to come off (the bench) and help us," Brey said. "Steve has kind of come off before V.J., but they've both got about the same minutes. I've been really impressed with both of them. They have a real good feel for it. They know how to play.
"They are both shotmakers. They both can make shots. I think those guys, all hands on deck. Are they going to be getting major minutes every night? You know, if everybody is healthy, that perimeter is pretty deep right now. But we are confident in them, and the older guys are confident in them. They got to be ready to go in the first half."
Brey said he has been impressed with how steady Beachem has been since getting to Notre Dame and that the former Bulldog contributes more than offense.
"I love his length defensively and on the backboard," Brey said. "One thing that could make V.J. valuable to us is he rebounds. He gets in passing lanes. He's long. He knows how to play, a good shooter. And he's an underrated passer. I think he is underrated as a passer. He really has a great feel for the game."
Brey also said Beachem has the perfect player in practice to match up against as the freshman tries to improve his skills.
"He plays against (junior forward) Pat Connaughton every day," Brey said. "What great training to play against that man every day. Pat's the kind of guy where if he kicks your butt, he helps you afterward. Don't get me wrong, there's days V.J. kicks his butt. I'm really thrilled about his future in our program."