Balancing Act

IU's Will Sheehey learning how to balance, leading and production. It hasn't always been easy.

This hasn't exactly been the easiest start to the season for Will Sheehey.

The Indiana senior forward has been thrust into a new role this season because of what the Hoosiers lost from last season, and it has been a challenge for Sheehey to handle.

Now, instead of being the energy guy off the bench, Sheehey has been asked to lead one of the nation's youngest teams, and also produce the same way he always has.

That has sometimes been a struggle for Sheehey, who is one of the few upperclassmen remaining on the roster.

"You don't ever give anybody anything that they're not capable of and you try not to put them in situations they're not ready for, but he's ready for those," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "He's doing fine. He's got a spirit and an edge that many competitive athletes would be jealous of, and he doesn't need to ever lose that. That's what makes him so good.

"Last year, the advantage that he had was he could watch the game develop. As a starter, he's got to be ready to go from the very beginning. It's a demanding position because there's so many young guys, but that's the hand we were dealt."

Tuesday night was another tough one for Sheehey on the offensive end. He missed all five of his shots from the field and finished with only three points, with three turnovers.

But in Indiana's 81-54 win over Oakland, Sheehey made the hustle plays that have sometimes been lacking this season. As he's adapted to his new role, he's sometimes had a hard time doing the things that made him the player he was.

Sheehey finished with eight rebounds and did an admirable job on Oakland's Travis Bader, who entered the game as the nation's top 3-point shooter. Bader had only 11 points on 2-of-15 shooting, and he missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts. It was the first time in 63 games that Bader failed to make a 3-pointer.

Those things -- rebounding and defense -- are how Sheehey made a name for himself at Indiana in the first place. Those are the things Crean expects out of him.

Sheehey seemed frustrated on Tuesday night when his shots wouldn't fall, but the offense will come, Crean says.

"I just want the leadership to be always, not when it's good," Crean said. "It has to be always. He's so gifted at knowing the way the game should be played, at what has to happen.

"Statistically, he's got to continue to rebound the ball better. Continue to move without the ball, shoot the ball with confidence, get out on the break. But we're asking him to do a lot of things."

For the season, Sheehey is averaging 9.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game this season. The numbers are right around where they have been for Sheehey the last two years. Actually, they're even better.

But Sheehey is the senior on this team, and fans expect more of him.

I'm not sure what I thought Sheehey's season would like like to this point. I certainly thought he'd be one of Indiana's primary option from 3-point range, and that hasn't been the case, save for the game against LIU-Brooklyn.

The numbers may improve, they may not. But for Sheehey, the effort and the leadership must stay the same. Crean said the team's leadership took a step back at Syracuse last week. Sheehey has to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"He's doing a very good job, it's just the expectations and demands on him are very high," Crean said. "But you don't reach greatness without those expectations and demands."


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