From 1910-13, a tough football player named Harry Costello led Georgetown to a 22-3-2 record despite being only 5-7 and weighing 138 pounds. A passer, rusher, punter, and placekicker, he was acknowledged by legendary coach Pop Warner as "for his [size], one of the greatest players that ever lived."
Nearly fifty years later, basketball welcomed another such leader in Brian (Puddy) Sheehan, who, at 5-9 and 155 pounds, was a dominant player in his three years at Georgetown. An all-Met guard at St. John's HS, Sheehan averaged 20 points a game for a freshman team that won 19 of 20 games, a school record. As a sophomore, Sheehan set a Georgetown record by scoring 30 points in his debut game. Despite being the smallest man on the court, Sheehan's combination of expert ballhandling and pinpoint shooting proved largely unstoppable in his sophomore season. Scoring 25 against the likes of
Connecticut, 23 against BC, and 22 against Syracuse was a matter of course--Sheehan scored 30 three different games and 20 or more 10 times in a 17 game stretch. He scored in double figures in all but one game, finishing with nine in a game against Maryland.
By season's end, Sheehan's scoring could not prevent a protracted losing streak for the Hoyas, who averaged only 6-1 as a team and whose tallest player stood 6-4. Against taller and stronger opponents, Sheehan dazzled. He ended the season averaging 18.4 points a game, breaking a single season record for average that stood for 41 years.
Sheehan got some backcourt help in 1960 with the arrival of Jim Carrino, but continued to be the main offensive option for the Hoyas. He opened the 1960-61 averaging 21.3 points in his first six games. Partnering with fellow junior Tom Coleman, the pair led the Hoyas in 15 of 21 games. Sheehan scored 29 against St. Peter's, 27 against Niagara, and 23 against Providence, even if he was facing opponents six inches taller on both sides of the floor. Sheehan led the Hoyas with a 15.6 average and won the Daly MVP award.
Sheehan's contributions touched all areas of play. "Not told in statistics," wrote The HOYA, "are the countless number of assists and defensive gems which the redhead managed as the Hoyas' leading scorer and playmaker; and probably the most valuable contribution of all was his inspiring leadership and floor mastery as the 'take charge guy' in the backcourt."
Sheehan collected a third straight scoring title in 1961, with double figures in 15 of 21 games and a season high 28 against Boston College. Largely lost to history is Sheehan's contributions by the assist. Though a statistic that was not regularly tracked until the mid-1960's, there is little doubt that Sheehan rang up numerous assists in his three years. One performance that was recorded was a 16 point, 14 assist effort at Madison Square Garden in a 23 point rout of NYU in 1961. While he finished second to Jim Carrino in scoring that evening, Sheehan's ballhandling was recalled as one of the
finest individual performances the Garden had seen in years.
Despite the accomplishments, Sheehan was not nationally known and otherwise played in relative obscurity compared to other local players. George Washington had extra visibility in 1961 with a Southern Conference title and an NCAA bid, Georgetown had neither. In fact, while a 5-9 GW guard named Jon Feldman was a two time All-America selection, Sheehan was only selected an as an honorable mention pick by Catholic Digest's "All-Catholic" team.
Sheehan was not forgotten by Georgetown, which selected him to its Hall of Fame in the years following its revival in 1978. For his accomplishments in an era of struggle for basketball at the university, "Puddy" stood at the forefront, and remains among the greats of Georgetown's classic era.