Wednesday evening could have been a milestone game for Indiana's longest-standing, most impactful player left on the team's roster from the past four years.
Entering IU's game against Penn State, Will Sheeehey needed just 13 points to hit the mark of 1,000 points, a pedestal 46 Hoosiers had surpassed before him. Instead, he came up just a point short – as did the Hoosiers, in their 66-65 loss to the Nittany Lions.
Sheehey missed just two shots all evening, going 5-for-7 from the field, and although most media members didn't catch on to #SheeheyWatch until the game had begun, it appeared that the senior forward came into the game determined to hit the mark and lead his team to a much-needed victory.
The first trip down the court, he fed Stanford Robinson on a layup for an assist. Less than two minutes later, he got his layup of his own to give the Hoosiers a 6-2 lead.
His thunderous dunk with 12:11 to go boosted his team's lead to 15-8, capping off an early 7-0 run. He finished the half with nine points, adding a 3-pointer towards the end along with another dunk, and going into the locker room just four points shy of the mark.
He made a jumper 2:33 into the second half, and minutes later, after stealing the ball from Brandon Taylor, Sheehey drove to the other end of the court and drew a foul in the paint on Tim Frazier. He had two free throw shots – making both would get him to 1,000.
He only made the second.
It appeared for a while Tom Crean wouldn't take him out of the game until he sunk another basket, but it never came, and he took a seat with 8:19 to go as the Nittany Lions stormed back within five.
One more IU turnover would ensue, as the Hoosiers let this one slip away.
After the game, instead of praising Sheehey for the spark he brought early one, Crean indirectly called his senior out as one player who needed to step up down the stretch.
"It's just you can't just play to play at this level, and it's not just the youth," Crean said. "We've got a fourth-year senior that's got to play better. We've all got to do better."
Crean added that in the timeouts towards the end, he tried to stay calm and get down on his younger guys who had let Penn State crawl its way back. He hoped their veteran teammates would light a fire that would turn things around.
But Crean didn't see that from Sheehey, Ferrell, or graduate guard Evan Gordon.
"I was very calm," Crean said. "I don't think we had our – our leadership could have been better at the end."
In front of the media afterwards, Sheehey seemed very frustrated and sullen, often looking down and answering questions with the same short phrases.
But Ferrell ended the press conference laying the blame square at the duo's feet.
"We've just got to get more intelligent on our team," he said. "It starts, of course, with me and Will; always does. We're the front-runners for that. We've just got to be more intelligent with the ball and how we play the game."