VU’s Graham ready for hoops part of his year

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 1:01am
Jamie Graham is ready to get started with the VU hoops squad, just days after finishing football season. File

Jamie Graham only could sit around on the couch and eat home cooking for so long. It was a matter of days, to be exact.

Eventually, he had to get back outside.

Over the weekend, while most people connected with the Vanderbilt football program basked in last Thursday’s 16-14 victory over Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Graham promptly turned his focus forward and took aim at the basketball goal at his family home.

“I was happy that we won the bowl game, but my mind also was on basketball,” he said. “I’ve been watching a lot of basketball lately. I shot some the other do just to do something. I’m feeling good right now.”

Graham, a sophomore who last year became VU’s first football-basketball athlete in more than a decade, practiced with the basketball team Monday, five days before the Commodores’ SEC opener at Kentucky, and four days after the memorable conclusion to the football season.

He said he still was sore from the grind of the football season and his participation in the bowl game (two rushes and two receptions) but was eager to get started, particularly given the fact that it was roughly a month from the end of the 2007 football season before he played in a basketball game for the first time.

“We’ll have to put our patient hat on because (Monday) was his first practice, and last year it took us a couple (weeks) before we got him ready to play,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “Hopefully it won’t take that long again, but if it does, obviously, people are going to have to be patient.

“We’ll see how long it takes him to get familiar with what’s going on.”

Graham eventually appeared in 15 games, including four against non-conference competition, as a freshman and averaged just 4.3 minutes per appearance.

Saturday, while he was on the couch at home, this year’s basketball team completed the non-conference portion of its schedule with a victory at Massachusetts. That meant the time available for this year’s transition was drastically reduced.

“It’s a lot harder actually because I’m coming in right during the SEC season, just when the games start getting tough,” he said. “ … I’m having to make a big adjustment coming in from football.”

It does, however, give him the opportunity to get back indoors.

“I’ve just been sitting down, relaxing, trying to spend time with the family and eat some good meals,” he said. “It’s started getting a little too cold outside, so it’s time for basketball.”

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