Tomorrow night is senior night for Will. You could make a case that he is the most important Hoosier of this generation. His career here spans the end of the black hole that was the initial post-Sampson rebuild, carries over through the awesome Zeller years, and now through this rebuilding year. Crean has been very vocal in singling out Sheehey, along with Hulls and Oladipo, for changing the work ethic and the culture of the program. Again, you can make the case that the Sheehey is the most important one of all, as he is the one to pass that torch and standard on to guys like Robinson, Williams, Davis, et al.
Anyway, in terms of remembrance, there is obviously this:
There was also the game winner against VCU in the 2012 tourney. And his monster games against UNC last year and just this last week against Iowa, which may have turned this season around.
For my money -- and forgive me, for I have talked about this here before, and start to sound like the old man telling the same stories over and over again -- his most memorable moment came in his sophomore year at Mackey. After knocking off Kentucky earlier in the season, the team had a bit of a slide when it got into the conference slate. We were all kind of wondering whether the team was anything more than a middle-of-the pack Big Ten squad. We were hovering around .500 in conference, and had just dropped a winnable game at Michigan. We had played well for about 37 minutes at Mackey, but Purdue had cut the lead back to 2 points, at which point we were all expecting the team to fold as it had shown a tendency to do that season (man, the more things change the more they stay the same).
So Purdue runs a half-court trap. Hulls, acting as point guard while Yogi was still in High School, picks up his dribble and gives up a steal at about midcourt. So, at this point, you are thinking that Purdue is about to tie this game and have all the momentum. Which probably means the game is lost. Which puts the season a little farther down the drain. And maybe next year we'll figure out how to win games like these.
And you are thinking these things as Lewis Jackson goes up with the game-tying layup. Sheehey, however, is not thinking these things. Rather, he is absolutely busting his ass down the floor. He blocked the layup cleanly. Watford got the board and got fouled. He sank two free throws. We got a stop. Remy puts the nail in the coffin. IU gets its legs on the season, and the rest is history.
There were many things that played into the return of IU to national prominence over the past couple of years. I will forever believe that Sheehey's hustle play in West Lafayette was the point where you could put a pin down and say: nope, we're not going back now. So, for that, for being such a bad ass, and for making Hoosiermommynow smile every time she sees your face on the telly, I say thanks, Will.