Notebook: V.J. Beachem anxious for second March chance
WASHINGTON – The next practice, the next game, the next chance to grow his game always was the priority for Notre Dame swingman V.J. Beachem.
But for as good as the junior was at times this season — at the AdvoCare Invitational over Thanksgiving, against Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, road games against Syracuse and Clemson — one month always lingered deep in his thoughts.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about,” Beachem admitted. “Not trying to put too much pressure on myself, but definitely excited for the opportunity to have a chance at it again.”
Beachem had a chance last March, but didn’t deliver. In seven postseason games — three in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, four in the NCAAs — Beachem never played more than 14 minutes or scored more than four points. When it really got interesting in the NCAA tournament as Notre Dame chased its first trip to the Final Four since 1978, Beachem went scoreless in three of four games
This year, he believes, will be different. He’s been different. He’s matured. His game has matured. Beachem set career bests for starts (30), points (11.1 ppg.), rebounds (4.0) and minutes (30.6). That play has helped prepare him for postseason and make him more than just a spot-up guy on the perimeter.
“Just not so dependent on my jump shot as I was last year, doing more things to help us out in any ways as I can,” he said. “That’s something I’ll be able to do this March.”
While Irish coach Mike Brey was in charge of preparing his team to chase another ACC tournament championship this week, his secretary, Stephanie Reed, had perhaps the most challenging job in his corner office.
Reed was in charge of handling ticket accommodations for Brey in the return trip to his hometown.
“Stephanie’s going to resign dealing with my people coming out of the woodwork,” said Brey, a native of nearby Rockville. “I have been in hiding since Saturday.”
Brey’s done this ticket dance in the past. The first time he returned to D.C. as the Notre Dame coach in 2001, he needed a big block of tickets and a Verizon Center luxury suite. Many of those same friends, including his basketball mentor, Morgan Wootten, are expected back for Thursday’s quarterfinal contest against Duke.
“There’s a lot of memories in that building,” Brey said. “It will be good to be in D.C.”
Long-time ACC loyalists have had a hard time dealing with the tournament being held somewhere other than Greensboro, N.C. Brey doesn’t mind, especially being in Washington. There were plenty of times during Notre Dame’s days in the Big East and games at Georgetown when Verizon Center turned into Purcell Pavilion on steroids.
“I think D.C. really benefits us,” Brey said. “That’s a great Notre Dame town. I think our people will really come out.”
Warsaw native Marshall Plumlee went for 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in 32 minutes to help No. 5 seed Duke hold off North Carolina State, 92-89 in Wednesday’s second round.
Minutes afterward, Plumlee headed down a Verizon Center back corridor for treatment for a broken nose. Plumlee was cracked by teammate Matt Jones during a key second-half stretch.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski figured Plumlee would be able to go Thursday, even if he has to play with a mask.
“We’ll get some advice on that,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m an authority on noses; it’s one thing I know a lot about, at least big noses.”
What Krzyzewski wasn’t an expert on late Wednesday afternoon was Notre Dame’s new-found tempo on offense. He planned to dive deep into Irish film that night.
“They’re an explosive offensive team,” he said. “And so are we. They’ll have a little bit more rest, but our guys will be ready to go.
“We’re both good teams, good teams that will do a good job in the NCAA tournament.”
• Notre Dame practiced Wednesday morning at 8 for 50 minutes at Verizon Center. The Irish then went right to nearby Gallaudet University for a light practice.
• Thursday is Notre Dame’s first game in Verizon Center since a 78-71 loss to Maryland in the BB&T Classic on Dec. 4, 2011. The Irish last won in the building on Feb. 27, 2010, a 78-64 victory over No. 11 Georgetown.
• After tying his career high for points (27) on a career-high six 3-pointers in a 7-of-15 shooting effort Feb. 13 against Louisville, Irish guard Demetrius Jackson is a combined 23-of-62 (37 percent) from the floor, 7-of-28 (25 percent) from 3.
• Duke freshman Luke Kennard, who went for a career-high 30 points in January again Notre Dame, scored 22 points Wednesday to tie freshman Brandon Ingram for the team high.