Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 46 of 55 FEBRUARY 2017 47 MEN'S BASKETBALL "I hope so," he said with a laugh. "What would that be? That would be a while." V.J. BEACHEM BREAKS OUT OF SLUMP The Irish began their ACC sched- ule without the assistance of senior wing V.J. Beachem, who scored just six points at Pittsburgh and a season- low two against Louisville. That all changed against Clemson, when Beachem hit his first two shots — both three-pointers — and tied his career high with 22 points to lead Notre Dame to a 75-70 victory. "It's only a matter of time with him, and great timing on his part," Brey said. "If he's not going in the first half, we may be down 25. We were a mess. "I don't ever overanalyze him, the law of averages kicks in. It was great where we were able to distort the defense and they helped on [junior forward Bonzie Colson], and we got some kick-outs to him, and he made some shots to get himself started." Beachem said he was able to keep his confidence up during his slump by listening to the advice of team- mates and coaches, who demanded the 6-8 wing to keep shooting. "It's a good feeling just to get a win and go 3-0 in league play," Beachem said. "No matter how we can get it done, and personally for myself to get it going was good, too." Clemson defended Beachem dif- ferently than the Cardinals did three days earlier. While Louisville took away Beachem on the perimeter — allowing Notre Dame's other guards to penetrate — Clemson let Beachem beat them from the outside. The Tigers' plan backfired. Beachem finished 6 of 10 from behind the arc, a career-high for threes in a game. "Louisville did a really good job of chasing me everywhere and face- guarding me," Beachem said. "Clem- son kind of lost me a little bit. I think that's why I was able to get some more open looks." Clemson head coach Brad Brownell explained the difficulty of defending the Irish. "Beachem was a difference maker, he was outstanding in the first half," Brownell said. "Beachem made some really tough shots. That's what you get when you play Notre Dame. They just have so many weapons." BONZIE COLSON STILL A FORCE Colson began the season with a 23-point effort in a blowout win over Bryant Nov. 12. The junior forward hasn't slowed down since. Against Clemson, the 6-5 native of New Bedford, Mass., recorded his ACC-best 10th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 re- bounds, upping his season averages to 16.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per contest. That production was not unex- pected — Colson averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as a sopho- more. However, Colson's rebounding prowess has taken some pressure off junior starting forward Martinas Ge- ben, who while playing 16.3 minutes per game is averaging 5.1 rebounds. Against Louisville, a team known for its length on the inside with mul- tiple forwards over 6-8, Colson fin- ished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. "Bonzie against a frontline like [Louisville's], he just takes them on," Brey said. ✦ 2016-17 NOTRE DAME MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 1 Mercy! W, 119-58 Nov. 7 Catholic! W, 103-48 Nov. 12 Bryant W, 89-64 Nov. 16 Seattle W, 92-49 Nov. 18 Loyola (Md.) W, 83-48 Nov. 21 vs. Colorado# W, 89-83 Nov. 22 vs. Northwestern# W, 70-66 Nov. 26 Chicago State W, 91-60 Nov. 29 Iowa& W, 92-78 Dec. 4 North Carolina A&T W, 107-53 Dec. 6 IPFW W, 87-72 Dec. 10 vs. Villanova% L, 74-66 Dec. 17 vs. Purdue^ L, 86-81 Dec. 19 Colgate W, 77-62 Dec. 28 St. Peter's W, 63-55 Dec. 31 at Pittsburgh* W, 78-77 (OT) Jan. 4 Louisville* W, 77-70 Jan. 7 Clemson* W, 75-70 Jan. 12 at Miami* (ESPN) 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at Virginia Tech* (ACCN) 2 p.m. Jan. 18 at Florida State* (RSN) 7 p.m. Jan. 21 Syracuse* (ESPN/2) 12 p.m. Jan. 24 Virginia* (ACCN) 8 p.m. Jan. 28 at Georgia Tech* (ESPNU) 12 p.m. Jan. 30 Duke* (ESPN) 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at North Carolina* (ESPN/2) TBA Feb. 7 Wake Forest* (ESPNEWS) 7 p.m. Feb. 11 Florida State* (ESPN/2) 2 p.m. Feb. 14 at Boston College* (ESPNU) 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at NC State* (ESPN/2) 12 p.m. Feb. 26 Georgia Tech* (ESPNU) 6:30 p.m. Mar. 1 Boston College* (ACCN) 8 p.m. Mar. 4 at Louisville* (CBS) 2 p.m. Mar. 7-11 ACC Tournament$ TBA ! Exhibition; # Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.; & ACC-Big Ten Challenge; % Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J.; ^ Crossroads Classic in In- dianapolis; * ACC game; $ at Brooklyn, N.Y.; ACCN — ACC Network; RSN — Regional Sports Network Three-Point Play Here are three stats that stood out to Blue & Gold Illustrated during Notre Dame's 14-2 start to the season: • Mike Brey's overtime success: With a 78-77 overtime win over Pittsburgh to open up ACC play, the Irish are now 22-10 in overtime games under Brey and have won six straight and 12 of the last 13. "I have a lot of coaches who call me about that and ask me that in the offseason," Brey said. "We work on game situations probably as much or more than anybody. We probably do two a day. … We do a lot of end-of- game stuff. ... In practice is if you do it enough, you have enough guys that make a big shot or make a big pass or get a big defensive rebound in a simulated game situation. I believe that gives them some confidence." Senior guard Steve Vasturia made the game-winner with 2.5 seconds left against Pittsburgh. "When I went into the huddle in overtime [at Pitt], our veterans were already talking about it," Brey said. "I said, 'Fellas, this is what we do.' There's a great psychological advantage for us right now because we've had success in overtime." • Matt Farrell against power opponents: The junior guard has propelled the Irish to several big wins this season, perhaps none bigger than the one over Louisville at Purcell Pavilion Jan. 4. Farrell finished with 22 points against the high-pressure Cardinals. The 6-1 Bridgewater, N.J., native has raised his game at the most crucial times this season. Notre Dame has faced eight power-conference teams this season (ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten or Big East) and Farrell has rose to the occasion in every contest. In those eight games, Farrell averaged 18.4 points. • Assist-to-turnover ratio and free throw excellence: It's no surprise that a Brey-coached team takes care of the ball, but the Irish have been particularly adept at it this season. Through the season's first 16 games, Notre Dame ranked No. 1 in Division I in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.89), an impressive feat considering the schedule the Irish have faced this season. Led by Farrell and Vasturia at the guard positions, Notre Dame assisted on 285 of its 467 made shots and turned the ball over just 151 times. The Irish also far and away led the nation in free throw percentage at 84.2 (221 of 263), which is so crucial in the tight league games. Marquette (81.9) and Valparaiso (80.2) were the only two others over 80 percent. — Matt Jones

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