V.J. Beachem knows how to raise his game in March.
The senior wing did it last year. And he’s ready to do reach another level this season.
“I still feel like I’ve got a whole other gear in my game,” Beachem said last week. “Just finding that gear, clicking it at the right time, not too early, but just finding it for March is something that I want to do personally.”
His recent play suggests he might be close to that level already.
Beachem’s outside shooting has been pivotal in Notre Dame’s recent offensive surge with the four-guard lineup. Since missing all five of his three-point attempts and scoring just three points in a loss to No. 12 Virginia Jan. 24, Beachem has made at least two threes in the last seven games and is averaging 19.1 points per outing.
His uptick in scoring can be attributed to the new offensive system the Irish are using. During the current four-game winning streak, Beachem’s three-point attempts have increased, averaging 9.7 a game. In the previous four games, all losses, Beachem took just six a game.
He made a Notre Dame Atlantic Coast Conference record seven threes against NC State this past Saturday. In three other games this season he’s made six.
Beachem’s late-season surge in 2016 did not begin until the ACC Tournament. He scored 19 points and made four three-pointers in an 84-79 overtime win over Duke in the quarterfinals.
Then in the four NCAA Tournament games, Beachem was arguably the MVP for the Irish. He averaged 17.5 points, up from his season average of 15.4, and shot 54.5 percent from three-point range in the run to the Elite Eight.
That run followed a 2015 tournament in which he tallied four total points in a reserve role in the team’s first Elite Eight appearance under head coach Mike Brey.
“I have been praying on it, dating back to last year at this time, that I would have this opportunity again, and to make the most of it,” Beachem said after a Sweet 16 win over Wisconsin. “I’ve been fortunate enough to do so. There hasn’t a moment where it all came into form.
“The shot has been feeling great. I’m feeling so much more comfortable on the court.”
Beachem looks plenty comfortable on the court now, and he and the three other upperclassmen starters are carrying the Irish with them.
“The closer it gets to March the better he plays,” Brey said of Beachem. “We know he’s pretty darn good in March, last year he was off the charts in March.”