Sheehey shows leadership, resiliency

Senior forward Will Sheehey made two clutch shots down the stretch in Tuesday night's 73-72 win over LIU-Brooklyn.

Will Sheehey couldn't buy a basket. Nothing would go down. LIU-Brooklyn played off of him, dared him to shoot it, and he couldn't say no.

Sheehey is a proud player. He's a good shooter. So it made sense that he took the six open 3-pointers in the first half.

But Sheehey, Indiana's senior leader, missed all six of them. He was 0-of-8 from the field in the first half on Tuesday night, scoring his four points from the foul line.

Sheehey's misses didn't faze him. They couldn't. Unlike in past years, he didn't have anyone to turn to. This is his team now, and he had to stay ready, to stay confident.

He did. Sheehey's second half numbers: 15 points (6-10 FG, 3-5 3-pointers). Included in those stats were two clutch 3s down the stretch that ultimately led IU to a 73-72 win over the upset-minded Blackbirds.

"You get stops on defense, and it definitely fuels your offense," Sheehey said afterward. "Also playing inside out, the shots I took in the second half were a lot more open than the shots in the first half. They came off penetration. They came off Yogi (Ferrell) two or three times making a fantastic play in the lane, finding me wide open. Devin (Davis), I think, found me once too. So it's really just guys making plays for others."

Indiana was in a precarious situation. The Hoosiers trailed 70-67 with three minutes to go. An early-season upset was a distinct possibility.

But Sheehey knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers after struggling so much early.

"I knew Will would knock down the shots at the end because he does it for us every day," Ferrell said.

What impressed me the most about Sheehey had nothing to do with the shots he made down the stretch. It was the little things -- the leadership qualities -- that he continues to develop and demonstrate. Every time something went LIU-Brooklyn's way, Sheehey was the first to gather his teammates together and give them high fives.

He never dropped his head, never stopped moving, never let his young teammates stop believing.

"I'm especially proud of this guy," Indiana coach Tom Crean said in his postgame press conference, turning to look at Sheehey.

That is what will make Sheehey a special player this season. He won't always have the numbers he did Tuesday night -- 19 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists -- but he also has to be the leader he was against LIU-Brooklyn.

I'll admit I had my doubts as to whether Sheehey could become that guy. He's proven me wrong. There are more talented players on the roster, but Sheehey is this team's heart and soul.

He proved that to everyone on Tuesday night.


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