Will Sheehey has several roles on Tom Crean's Indiana basketball team.
Video: Will Sheehey on his dad's Syracuse connection - click here
WASHINGTON (WDRB) -- Let's make one final run through the scouting report on Tom Crean's Indiana basketball team as the Hoosiers prepare to play Syracuse Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinals at the Verizon Center:
Jordan Hulls: consummate gentleman; Christian Watford: thoughtful, quiet as an art gallery; Cody Zeller: subtle prankster; Victor Oladipo: charismatic entertainer; Yogi Ferrell: deferential freshman.
Anything missing from the lineup?
"Every team needs a pain in the butt," Mike Sheehey said. "You've have to have one, don't you?"
Talk to Mike Sheehey for 15 minutes and you'll understand the who, what and where of why his son, junior Will Sheehey, is the pain in the butt for the IU basketball team, the guy who draws the taunts, the scrutiny and the occasional technical foul.
Don't forget that many consider Sheehey the finest sixth-man in the country, an athletic, 6-foot-6, slasher who scored in double figures in nearly half of Indiana's games. He leads the team in ice packs, bruises and abrasions. Will Sheehey has done as much to change the culture of Indiana basketball as anybody on Tom Crean's roster.
Most fans remember Will Sheehey's beefy uncle, Tom. He played four solid seasons at Virginia, serving as an essential contributor during the Cavaliers' 1984 Final Four run. They're not as familiar with Tom Sheehey's older brother, Mike.
"I was the better player," Mike Sheehey said.
His answer sounded part humorous, part regretful. Mike Sheehey started his career playing for the same guy that every Syracuse guard has played for since 1976 -- Jim Boeheim.
As a freshman in 1979-80, Sheehey sat and watched Tony Bruin, Leo Rautins and others. As a sophomore, he sat and watched them again.
"I had the best seat in the house for two seasons," Sheehey said.
But only two. He departed for St. Bonaventure after his sophomore season, scoring more than 800 points during the two seasons with the Bonnies. Does Sheehey wonder what would have happened to his career if he had not have been buried on the Syracuse bench?
He doesn't have time.
Mike Sheehey is an important man in American sports television. He works as the senior vice-president for content for NBC Sports and Comcast, a man who helps to negotiate contracts and secure programming. He also intently follows his son, who brings an edge to the court that has helped change the dynamic of Crean's program. Ask him.
"You've got to have a real chip on your shoulder," IU coach Tom Crean said. "There's nothing wrong with that.
"There is many a great player that have made many a great team that started out with that chip. The ones that lost it didn't stay great. The ones that built on it end up legendary, and it's no different in college. You've got to have that."
Sheehey has it, likely because his father had it. Fans at Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois will testify to Sheehey's competitiveness with a splash of venom. But bruises have always been part of the Sheehey way. It's competition. Sheehey grew up outside Palm Beach, Fla. His father said Will was always tall, lean and athletic, as talented on the soccer field as he was on the basketball court.
An excellent student, Sheehey was stirring interest from Stanford, Michigan, Virginia Tech and Northwestern.
He thought he could play at a higher level. So for his senior season, Sheehey transferred to The Sagemont School near Miami. There he could play with Fab Melo, a top recruit in the Class of 2010. Coaches who came to observe Melo would leave impressed by Sheehey.
That's not the way it worked out.
The guy who urged the Indiana coaching staff to pursue Sheehey was actually former South Carolina coach Darrin Horn, who had worked for Crean at Marquette. Horn visited the school to watch another Sagemont player. He told Crean and IU assistant Tim Buckley that Sheehey had the DNA of the type of player Crean prefers.
Crean and Buckley flew to Miami that week. Sheehey and his father visited Indiana for a football game. Suddenly, Stanford, Michigan, Virginia Tech and Northwestern were in big trouble.
"At the time, Indiana didn't have the juice that it has now," Mike Sheehey said. "It wasn't Duke or North Carolina. They had a lot of history but a lot of work to do.
"But getting the program back appealed to Will. When we went to that football game, we walked over to Assembly Hall and some of the basketball guys were playing. There were several hundred fans in the building, watching and taking pictures. Will realized how important basketball was to the culture at Indiana. He wanted to be a part of it."
Will Sheehey is a part of it – with his own designated role.