Stats – 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 50% FG, 38.3% 3-pt
Best Game of Season – vs. Butler – 21 points (5-8 FG, 3-4 3-pt, 8-10 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
What We Knew – Much like Victor Oladipo, we knew Will Sheehey’s raw skills were there, but they were raw. He had his moments his freshman year, but seemed more like an inexperienced freshman than anything else. Only twice was he a double figure scorer, coming in back-to-back games against Iowa and Purdue. But he wasn’t seen as someone who would be a scorer, but a role player.
Defensively, Sheehey looked like someone who could be a lockdown defender. He freakish athleticism was displayed a couple times in the season, none more than his now famous dunk against Iowa. But he needed another year to mature and develop that potential into something special. We didn’t expect much more than a solid role player, someone who could spell Victor at times.
What We Learned – Again, we were pleasantly surprised. Sheehey didn’t take the leap I thought into an explosive player like Oladipo, but instead polished his jumper and defensive skills and became one of IU’s most important players. As the 6th man, Sheehey came in and provided IU with dependability they rarely had off the bench in previous years.
Offensively, Sheehey became a very dependable player, rarely making mistakes and knocking down jumpers. He made nearly as many jumpers this year (100) as he took last year (128). And most of those shots came from the perimeter and not near the rim. He also made significantly more 3s (18-47 this year, 7-23 last year) and was more of a playmaker with 33 assists.
Defensively, like we expected, he blossomed into a defensive stud. He could come off the bench and keep pressure on opponents. When he started, Oladipo and Sheehey created havoc on perimeters. He even flourished in the post, helping shut down Terrance Jones in the December matchup.
Overall, Sheehey became someone IU struggled without. When he went down in late December, IU struggled without him. The production off the bench just wasn’t there and the team couldn’t find someone to help them. And when Verdell went down, Sheehey stepped in seamlessly, making the 2nd biggest shot of the season when he knocked down a jumper with only seconds to go against VCU to secure the win.
What We Expect – With Verdell Jones now gone, Sheehey is expected to be the permanent fifth starter this year. With the expected starters of Hulls, Victor, Sheehey, Watford, and Zeller, Sheehey will look to be an anchor. He’ll need to be diverse in that, sometimes they’ll need him to knock down open threes and sometimes they’ll need him to get to the rack. Sometimes they’ll need him to grab board or sometimes find open teammates.
Defensively, sometimes they’ll ask him to help lockdown the team’s best perimeter player. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try him on some more athletic big men. Watford has, many times, seemed disinterested on the defensive end. Enter Sheehey.
Overall, the best way to explain what I want out of Sheehey is to be the glue guy. Whatever the team needs, he needs to be able to answer that calling. If he can, IU will only improve next season.