Notebook: Sheehey returns to form against NC Central

When Will Sheehey returned after sitting out five games with a high ankle sprain, it looked like he hardly missed a beat. He was one of Indiana’s most effective players against Minnesota on Jan. 12, scoring 12 points on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting.

But since then, the production hasn’t been the same. Sheehey hasn’t moved as much without the ball, he hasn’t gone to the glass as frequently, and he doesn’t seem to have the same explosiveness he had before the injury.

That was until Wednesday against North Carolina Central.

Sheehey had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds in the No. 23 Hoosiers’ 75-56 win, his most productive offense game in more than a month.

In his previous 10 games, Sheehey scored a total of 56 points on a combined 20-of-50 shooting.

“I’m not 100 percent yet, and you can tell,” Sheehey said. “I try to jump off one foot, and it’s pretty ugly. I’m just trying to get back and play a part on the defensive side first. The rest will come.”

WATFORD’S SHOOTING SLUMP CONTINUES

Christian Watford hit the biggest shot of the year for Indiana when he made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat No. 1 Kentucky.

Lately, though, Watford is struggling to hit any shot at all.

The junior forward is in the middle of his worst slump of the season, having scored in double figures only twice in the last six games. Watford was 0-of-8 and scored only two points against North Carolina Central, and he’s made only 4-of-24 shots in the last three games. He’s scored a combined three points on 0-of-13 shooting in the last two.

Indiana coach Tom Crean said he isn’t worried about Watford’s struggles, pointing to the fact he has had a positive impact on the defensive end.

“Everybody wants to score points, everybody wants to have a free-flow game — it’s not that way,” Crean said. “We wouldn’t be in this situation that we’re in this season without the play of Christian Watford. The bottom line is, is he bringing things to the table that make us better in the game? There’s nobody in here and there are very few people out there that want to deal with him when he’s guarding them.”

Watford’s last 20-point game came on Jan. 5 when he torched Michigan for 25 on 8-of-11 shooting. Since then, he hasn’t scored more than 18 points, and he’s shot better than 50 percent in only two games.

HOOSIERS GET CELEBRITY MANAGER

Jim Harbaugh won the NFL Coach of the Year award last season after he led the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship game. Just having him in Assembly Hall would be special for the Hoosiers.

But Harbaugh, Crean’s brother-in-law, wanted to play a bigger role.

The former Colts quarterback, in town for the NFL Combine, sat on the end of the IU bench and took the chairs onto the floor during timeouts Wednesday night.

“I wanted to contribute,” Harbaugh yelled from the back of the media room during Crean’s postgame press conference.

Crean, for one, was thankful he did.

“He’s a team guy,” he said. “It goes to show why he’s a very successful leader. There’s no job above him, there’s no job beneath him, and it’s all about winning.”

Crean said Harbaugh and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke — the NFL’s GM of the year — spoke to the team before and after the game. Baalke was a roommate of IU assistant coach Tim Buckley at Bemidji State.

“It’s an honor,” guard Victor Oladipo said. “I know he’s relatives with coach Crean but, at the end of the day, he’s still who he is. For him to come in and talk to us and motivate us, it’s a blessing.”

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    And in my continued defense of Crean’s defense, I think you are underestimating the importance of a system.  I don’t think he wants guys trying desperately to go over the top of screens, because I don’t think he finds it as effective as switching in a systemic theory of defense.  The problem is switching in this way requires an athletic defense that is essentially interchangeable man to man, primarily on the perimeter.  We just don’t have enough capable defenders at positions 1 through 3-4 to not get exposed on switches consistently this year.  We saw it work rather well when Northwestern was trying to close out the game against us, when Jones and VO were both playing Shurna well, and they couldn’t create a mismatch by forcing us to switch.  Unfortunately, we’ve seen plenty of it not working.  But I really think you are going to rethink your assessment of Crean as a defensive coach when we do have athletic capable defenders that know the system and commit to it. 

  • guest

    I always liked the idea of Will in the starting lineup when we were starting 3 guards.  He easily should’ve started in front of VJIII and I didn’t like the VO/WS interchangeable parts approach.  However, that whole time, I was saying ‘let’s play a 1, a 2, a 3, a 4, and a 5′.  So, now that we are (and I’m happy we are), I’m OK with Will coming off the bench, because I don’t think he should start in front of VO.  In this type of lineup, they ARE interchangeable at the 2 (both in front of VJIII).

  • guest

    I always liked the idea of Will in the starting lineup when we were starting 3 guards.  He easily should’ve started in front of VJIII and I didn’t like the VO/WS interchangeable parts approach.  However, that whole time, I was saying ‘let’s play a 1, a 2, a 3, a 4, and a 5′.  So, now that we are (and I’m happy we are), I’m OK with Will coming off the bench, because I don’t think he should start in front of VO.  In this type of lineup, they ARE interchangeable at the 2 (both in front of VJIII).

  • SCHoosier

    a “ball
    screen?” What’s that..I’m an IU fan.

  • SCHoosier

    Love the guy and will always appreciate his freshman year at IU..however..TP in at the end of the game when foul shots can win or lose it is a..well you know. Until this year..90% of the high screens he and DE set were called an offensive fouls.seriously.

  • Iumick22

    I Hate to be a doom and gloomer but IU could lose all three remaining games, and then the NCAA’s would not be a lock.

  • CreanFaithful

    Here is the quote, which you both misused… Comes from the radio show:

    One caller did ask an interesting question about Crean’s philosophy on defending ball screens, pointing out that IU players tend to play over the screen instead of above them. “I think we’re trying to do a lot of going over the screen,” Crean said. “I think what we’re trying to do is read what we’re gonna do at the point of the screen. The screens move a lot all over, especially in this league, they move. You want to get to the screen. If the screen is low, you want to go over the top of it. If they run the screen high at the point of the screen, then we want to trail it. We’re not a big, what we would call, a trail team, or a lock-and-trail team. We want to gap it as much as we possibly can.”I won’t pretend that we don’t struggle with defending the perimeter.  But it certainly isn’t because CTC “doesn’t want them going over the top of screens.”  As much as some like to speak to the contrary, our coach knows what he’s doing.  Players have to execute.

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