Watford, Sheehey trying to continue to increase versatility

The addition of Cody Zeller to Indiana’s frontcourt takes certain kinds of pressure off Indiana swingmen Christian Watford and Will Sheehey, but in certain ways, both will  have to be even more versatile than they’ve been in years past.

Watford said at a media availability session Thursday that he’s excited about Zeller’s presence because it means he will likely spend more time at what he believes is his natural offensive position, small forward. Watford’s perimeter skills are unique for a 6-foot-9, 230-pounder, as he finished second on the team with 37 3-pointers and shot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc to lead the team in scoring with 16.0 points per game. Watford still had to spend some time in the post because the Hoosiers were so low on post scoring, however, so he spent a significant amount of time at both forward positions.

Zeller should be a much better scoring option at the four than anything the Hoosiers had last year, though, so Watford should spend most of his time on the wing, but there are areas there where his game needs to come along.

“Just ball-handling, ball moves and stuff like that,” Watford said. “With Cody coming in, I feel like I’m going to be able to step out a little bit more, so I want to kind of work on explosion type stuff.”

He also has to work on defense, though. He spent some time defending on the perimeter as well as in the post last season, and had mixed results with that. If Zeller will spend more time guarding the power forward, Watford will have to deal with small forwards and sometimes guards who are smaller but quicker than he is.

He said he realizes he has to uses his size to his advantage.

“Just use what I have more than anything,” Watford said. “Be long, use your length. Don’t get up and pressure guys too much. Do multiple things with my wingspan and how tall I am.”

Sheehey, meanwhile, realizes that he may have to be the team’s most versatile reserve. Zeller helps, but the Hoosiers still only have three true post players, including senior Tom Pritchard and junior Derek Elston. That means Sheehey, a 6-foot-6, 200-pounder, could have to mix it up inside on occasion. He’s likely to have to play every position from shooting guard to power forward at one time or another, which will require a varying degree of skills.

“Ball-handling and outside shooting are the two things I really wanted to do on the court,” Sheehey said. “Definitely getting stronger in the weight room, but on the court, it’s definitely getting stronger in the weight room. … I definitely gotta be able to do multiple things. Offensive rebound and defensive rebound, playing good defense. Really someone that can just do everything. I’m not going to backdown from any task. Whatever needs to be done. Usually when guys talk about (what position you play) they’re talking about guarding somebody. If I can guard a big or guard a guard, if I can guard both positions, it doesn’t really matter. I had to mix it up last year, I didn’t do too great of a job, but with a little more experience, I think I’ll be able to.”

As confident as they are in their own abilities to be versatile, they’re more confident in the Hoosiers’ chances. Watford said he thinks an NCAA berth is possible.

“No doubt,” Watford said. “If we didn’t make it, I think it would be a failure. With what we’ve got now, the time is now.”

AUDIO: Christian Watford and Will Sheehey


  1. Christian sure is a relaxed dude, isn’t he? Great sense of humor and good insights from Will. Really good to hear them saying the things they said. Hope CW remmebers that he said he should be able to get double-doubles. I agree with him that the Big10 isn’t necessarily down this year despite what’s being said in the preseason chatter. Like his idea of getting into the NCAA tournament, too. Think it will be an exciting season and I’m looking forward to it.

  2. How long has it been since we have heard Hoosier ballers talk BB with confidence about the upcoming season. I too do not believe the B10 is in for a down year as much as I think there is some shifting of fortunes and ever increasing parity. MSU and the Badgers are always tough. scUM is gaining and we we will be a 1/2 step ahead of them. Iowa is improving. BB for PSU and the Huskers will not be like FB for PSU and the Huskers. Matta’s days for poaching the best out of Hoosierland is over. Certainly a medical procedure gone awry as a newborn caused Brucie’s tone of voice to be so high. POTFB often, regularly and with accuracy for sure!!

  3. I am excited for bball…more than I have been since the Sampson situation. I am itching!!! As much as I have bagged for 3 years on Pritch…I can see him having a decent season if they go with him at the 5. Not sure if I like that lineup but he will most likely get the nod because of playing experience. I expect to see Elston healthy and with a hot hand…I like Wat, Zeller, and Elston in the game together…like it a lot!!!

  4. Sheehey is a true gentleman. Met him last week w verdell and Barnett. Classy trio right there. Wonder how Hugh is doing at the new digs.

  5. Me too JPAT. I think with the addition of Zeller, the guys shooting last second shots will have a little more room to chuck one up. J/K.Ha.
    Honestly, IU should be able to keep defenses honest this year. I said last year we needed Pritch to have 8 to 10 rbs. and 8to 10 pts. per game to be sucessful. With Zeller, those 10 and 10 nights will be possible. That would make a huge difference in the win loss column. No more playing 5 on 4. No more hoping that the other teams get in foul trouble, or, has a bad night to be competetive. Maybe I am expecting to much but, I think we will see alot of open people and some awesome highlights this year. But don’t expect to much to early. The team will not be used to playing straight up ball. We SHOULD have a really competetive team by Big Ten time.

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