Feb 10, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT
Mike Franz, the official 2013-14 men’s basketball beat writer for the In The Paint blog, is currently a sophomore at Holy Cross College. Over the course of the year Mike will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Mike (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBlogger.
Notre Dame played North Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion. Despite going into halftime only down by four, turnovers and lack of defensive rebounds caused the Irish to drop yet another game with a 73-62 loss. As the old saying goes, “There is a silver lining in everything.” Although it did not seem like there was one in this disappointing loss, I found one in V.J. Beachem.
Beachem came to Notre Dame with high promise. As the first member of the 2013-2014 Notre Dame freshmen class to commit, Beachem came to the Irish having scored 1,531 career points in high school. Beachem is, in Mike Brey’s words, “a shot maker”; however, earlier this year he was not doing much shooting.
In the 24 games the Irish have played so far on their schedule, Beachem played in 19 of those games. In the first 16 of those 19 games, Beachem scored a combined 16 points.
I was a fan of Beachem going into this season, but after the Virginia game, even I was starting to doubt his ability to play in college. Yet the next three games he “flipped the script” and proved why he deserves to have a spot on this team. The Boston College game was Beachem’s coming out party. In that back and forth contest, Beachem made clutch shot after clutch shot in order to keep the win within reach. Beachem ended that game shooting 50 percent from the field and had his career high in minutes played (20) and points (10).
The next game the Irish battled #1 ranked Syracuse. Even though Beachem only played four minutes that game with just two points scored, he played tremendous defense when out on the court and helped to keep the Irish in the game.
Saturday, Beachem surprisingly did not play at all in the first half. After the game, Brey commented on that and realized he should have been in there. “I should have got him in during the first half,” Brey stated. “That’s my mistake – he should’ve been in the first half.”
Brey went with saying, “I talked to him at half time and I said you’re going in; be ready.”
In the second half Beachem was ready and stepped up in a big way. In just 14 minutes, he scored 10 points. As a matter of fact, besides Demetrius Jackson’s last second layup, Beachem was the only bench player to score against the Tar Heels.
Beachem finished the day shooting 57.1 percent from the field which included a three pointer. He also made his only free throw attempt to finish up a three point play. In addition to this, Beachem also hauled in an offensive rebound.
Is Beachem an All American by any means? No yet. But he is someone who can come off of the bench and produce points which has been hard to come by for the Irish this year. Beachem still needs work as he is a freshman and will make a “stupid” turnover every now and then, but with enough practice and sufficient playing minutes, I think V.J. Beachem can be an up and coming star for the Irish squad in future years.
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