“There’s nobody in the country who can run as far and as long as I can.”
— IU basketball player Will Sheehey
I love IU basketball. One of my favorite college memories is the campus mayhem after the 1987 national championship. (Among my least favorite: Being at the game in which coach Bob Knight infamously threw that chair across the gym floor.)
Still, the more I hear about Sheehey shattering top-ranked IU’s longtime record in its V02 fitness test, the more questions I have.
News-Sentinel sportswriter Pete DiPrimio has written that to do the test, “you get on a treadmill and basically sprint as hard as you can for as long as you can” — which is the same description I’ve found in other sports stories I’ve googled.
Pete and other sportswriters have reported that according to IU coach Tom Crean, the all-time record broke by Sheehey was set by former guard Jim Thomas, who played at IU 1979-83. Thomas lasted 13 minutes on the treadmill. Current IU guard Jordan Hulls set the “modern standard” of 12:56 before Sheehey came along and bested it by more than a minute: 14:06.
What hasn’t been reported, at least as far as I can tell, is how fast he was running.
I don’t pretend to grasp how a typical V02 test, in which oxygen-burning capabilities are measured, works. You can learn more about those here. But from everything I’ve read about the IU test, if the comparison point is how long players can go, then presumably they program the treadmill to a uniform speed. So how fast are we talking?
Is Sheehey, in fact, running at some incredible pace that would put the IU track team to shame? Or is he merely, as is more likely the case, the most fit basketball player IU’s had in a generation or two?
I asked Pete, who didn’t know and directed me to IU Sports Info director J.D. Campbell. If Campbell or one of his underlings ever gets back to me, I’ll post an update on this. Inquiring runners want to know. (Or this one does, anyway!)