Jay Wright flicked on the game film to watch his team's game against Seton Hall. Time and again, the Villanova coach was struck by the play of Will Sheridan, marveling at the senior's veritable highlight film from start to finish.
"He was just unbelievable," Wright said.
Casual observers this season often have lamented via e-mail that Sheridan isn't doing enough, that a senior who is averaging just 5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game should be replaced in the starting lineup by someone who provides more of a scoring threat.
Take the Seton Hall game that Wright was going on about. Sheridan took one field goal and made it and sank two free throws for a grand total of four points.
It said so right there on the box score.
But what people criticizing Sheridan are missing is what's not right in front of their eyes. He has never been a box-score stuffer and his value to a team is rarely measured on a piece of paper. That's not some sort of backhanded compliment but rather legitimate praise for a guy who sets the screens so Mike Nardi can sink his pretty three-pointers or who dives on the loose ball to set up Scottie Reynolds on a fastbreak.
Call it what you want - dirty work, whatever, Sheridan does it all.
"We probably have younger guys who are more talented than him, but he just brings so much more to the table," Wright said. "He's our glue."
Tomorrow afternoon, the glue will have some sticking to do as a streaking Georgetown team rides big man Roy Hibbert into the Wachovia Center for a noon battle. The Hoyas (19-5, 9-5 Big East) have won eight in a row and Hibbert has been the reason, averaging 16.8 points in that run. The last time he faced Villanova (18-7, 6-5), though, he didn't even take a shot. That's in part because Sheridan, who had another ho-hum box-score game with four points and four rebounds, treated Hibbert like his long-lost Siamese twin.
It takes a unique person to accept a sort of behind-the-scenes role in a world where everything is measured by statistics. Sheridan, a self-described old soul who thought nothing of schlepping his elementary-school self for a 15-minute walk across town and onto a city bus to get to school, is just that person.
Nicknamed Bump before he was born because he never could quite sit still in utero, Sheridan hasn't exactly changed. Deciding his basketball scholarship would offer more than just a ticket to the gym, he has used his hoops highway as a path to all sorts of other avenues. A regular on the university's orientation staff, he also has served on the presidential inauguration committee, the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and just this summer, represented Villanova at the NCAA Leadership Conference, joining an elite group handpicked by the NCAA to discuss key issues as they relate to student-athletes.
When that was over, he paid his own way to Europe to play on a team of Pennsylvania college all-stars just so he simply could see more of the world.
Cerebral without being condescending, Sheridan can break down game film but also can wax eloquent on student-athletes as "all body, no voice," the theme to his senior project completed last semester.
Wright knew he was getting a good player when he recruited Sheridan out of Delaware's Sanford School. Named the state's player of the year in both his junior and senior years, Sheridan was known as a banger, a guy who wasn't afraid to sacrifice his body for the good of the team. But even Wright was stunned at just how blue Sheridan's collar was.
"He came in with a maturity level that was just amazing to us all," Wright said. "With all of our guys, we wonder how they'll pick stuff up, their attitude because it's hard at first. From the second day, he just got it. I never have to yell at him about playing every possession. He just does it."
He also gets that some people don't get him, that they think he's underachieving. Even his own close friends and family have fretted that he might not get a chance to play professionally if he doesn't start getting greedy and padding his resume with double-digit scoring nights.
Sheridan is more than capable. He has added a reliable 15-foot jumper to his game and has gone for as many as 23 in his career but he also understands and more important, accepts, what he's supposed to do.
"Just like you can't have five of me out there, passing, passing, passing, you can't have five guys who all want the ball," Sheridan said. "There wouldn't be enough ball to go around."
That's not to say he doesn't have his moments. Sheridan says he doesn't care what people think, was never annoyed when people last year kept going on about the four guards, turning him, the fifth starter, into Pete Best, the forgotten Beatle.
While he gets it - "the four guards, that was a good story," the communications major who has eyes on a possible journalism career said - it also understandably can get to him.
"I mean, those people who say I don't score a lot or whatever, ask them how many charges do I take in a game? How many steals do I have? How many blocked shots?" Sheridan said. "Of course I'm human, I'm a ballplayer so I'd love to go out there and be the man, be on the highlights and all that."
But as everyone else lingers over box scores Sheridan has learned to direct his attention to another stat.
In his 4 years at Villanova, the Wildcats are 88-37.