SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem has a personal version of The Shot.
The freshman forward found himself open in the corner for a 3-pointer with 9 seconds to play and the Irish trailing Pittsburgh 65-62. Beachem squared up, launched his only shot of the game and forced overtime when it went in.
Notre Dame ended up losing 85-81 on March 1, but the New Haven graduated benefited personally and created a new favorite memory from his first college season.
For a while it was the Boston College game, but now, it’s the Pitt shot, said Beachem, who scored a career-high 10 points in a 76-73 overtime home win over Boston College on Feb. 1. I wish we were able to win that game (against Pitt), but it was definitely big for my confidence to step up and take a shot like that and be able to knock it down.
The Irish will need Beachem to continue to be confident as Notre Dame tries to earn an NCAA tournament berth by winning the ACC tournament.
Notre Dame (15-16), which is seeded No. 13, opens play in the conference tournament against No. 12 seed Wake Forest (16-15) today in Greensboro, N.C., with the winner playing No. 5 seed Pitt (23-8) on Thursday.
Late in the season, he really started getting his groove offensively, Irish guard Eric Atkins said of Beachem. I think he is growing within the season. We need him in this run to make shots for us. That is what he does, he is a shot maker.
I get on him probably the most when he passes up a shot. I’m the first one to come up to him and tell him shoot the ball. We need you. It is going to be the same thing in Greensboro.
Beachem has been used more this season than anticipated. The 6-foot-8, 187-pounder has played in 26 of 31 games, making one start in a 68-64 double overtime win over Clemson on Feb. 11.
Beachem’s role grew as Notre Dame dealt with the suspension of leading scorer Jerian Grant after 12 games for academic reasons, and Irish coach Mike Brey had to continue to rework his lineup as sophomore forward Austin Burgett and senior forward Tom Knight missed games because of injuries and freshman guard Demetrius Jackson had to take a week off to get his school work in order.
I kind of expected to contribute, but I didn’t expect it to go the way it did with losing Jerian and having to step into a role like that, Beachem said. It was something I wanted to do to contribute to the team, but the way that it happened was unexpected I would say.
Beachem said he has grown as a player, but he also knows he has plenty to work on, especially when it comes to defense.
Even though I have gotten a lot better, (defense) definitely is not one of my strengths, yet, Beachem said. It is something I still need to work. It is something I’ve been able to learn and continue to learn each and every day.
Beachem averages 2.5 points in 8.7 minutes, and Brey said he has been pleased with what he has seen from and expects more to come.
He’s getting better, man, he really is, Brey said. How about the shot he hits against Pittsburgh to put it into overtime? He’s just getting better and better. His summer will be so important to get stronger and older. He has a really bright future in our program.