This interview is part of a column by Sports Writer Pat O’Shea called “Pit Stop with Pat” that highlights outstanding past and present student-athletes at Haverford College.
What if I told you that nice guys don’t always finish last? Haverford Men’s Basketball guard Matt Sherman ’17 is arguably one of the nicest guys in the Centennial Conference. While watching the Fords play in Gooding ’84 Arena, Sherman can often be seen extending his hand to help an opposing player up after being fouled hard by the same player. Sherman has mastered the ability to balance his caring side with his fierce competitive nature. This acknowledgement of Sherman’s reputation of being a great guy was summed up perfectly in one sign during this past Wednesday night’s game against Swarthmore: “Everybody Likes Sherm.” He also exemplifies an incredible team-first mentality, which was noticeable in the same game on February 15 against Swarthmore. Needing just 11 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau, no one would have faulted him if he had hoisted up shot after shot until he reached the mark. However, Sherman was more focused on making the best play for his team as he kept looking to make a pass to an open teammate. His patience ended up paying off as he drove to the basket early in the second half, hitting a contested layup in the paint—sending those in attendance into a frenzy of adoration.
Sherman’s ability to be the nice guy combined with his drive to win has helped him to become the 16th player in Haverford Men’s Basketball history to score 1,000 career points. With Sherman making his 84th career appearance, only four players in program history are in the 1,000-point club with fewer games played during their career. After Sherman scored his 1,000 point this past Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to sit down with him to reflect on his career at Haverford.
Pat O’Shea (PO): What made you decide to come play basketball at Haverford?
Matt Sherman (MS): Haverford was always my top choice. I came for an overnight the weekend we beat F&M at home, and needless to say they showed me a good time. The camaraderie on our team is pretty special. Young alums remain very close to the program.
PO: You are now one of sixteen players in Haverford Men’s Basketball history to score 1,000 points. What does it mean to you to reach the 1,000-point plateau?
MS: I feel very fortunate to be in the same class as those 15 other Haverford greats. It’s great to be able to look back on in terms of legacy. I am very close with most recent 1k scorers Brett Cohen and Ian Goldberg, so they’ve been important mentors to me in the process.
PO: What emotions did you experience when you sank that layup in the paint?
MS: It was pretty ironic that the basket came with my left hand. I maybe have 10 points total with my left in my career. So I guess that was fitting. The fans were great all game. I fed off the incredible energy.
PO: How did the upperclassmen help you get better when you arrived on campus?
MS: I learned a ton from the upperclassmen as I was coming up. Despite my youth, my teammates trusted me from the onset to be aggressive offensively. That enabled me to be confident from the start of my career, and translated into a productive senior season.
PO: Who has had the greatest impact on your basketball career?
MS: I’d have to say my dad. He played basketball at Gettysburg College, so he has the college pedigree to back up what he says. He coached me early on in youth leagues, and pushed me to work hard and not be afraid to get out of my comfort zone. A major part of my success I attribute to playing in a league at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center in North Philadelphia. You had no choice but to be tough in that gym, or you’d be embarrassed.
PO: How do you balance being a nice guy off the court with being such a fierce competitor on the court?
MS: There’s definitely a fine line there. I’m friends with a lot of guys in the conference. We’ll talk before and after games. But it’s about pride when you step on the court.
PO: What has it been like playing against your little brother the past two years [Corey Sherman is a sophomore at Dickinson]?
MS: Corey and I are used to it at this point. We attended different high schools [Harriton and Lower Merion High School], and played each other three times. It’s always fun because we’re very close and to be able to compete like we’re in the gym by ourselves in the summer is pretty cool – especially in front of family and friends at Haverford.
PO: Did you ever get to go head-to-head with him in a game?
MS: We’ve shared the court occasionally, not as much as either of us would like unfortunately. I’d welcome that one-on-one matchup.
PO: What is it like having such a young nucleus of guys on the team this year?
MS: It’s been pretty cool for me to see the progress our program has made in terms of recruiting. Our freshman and sophomore classes are large and talented, and for them to gain experience this year will be invaluable for them down the line.
PO: What have been some challenging aspects of being the only senior on the team this year?
MS: With a young team, you go through the normal ups and downs that come with growing pains. It’s important to stay poised after losses, to set an example that young players can follow.
PO: Where do you see Haverford Basketball three years down the road?
MS: I truly believe there is potential in the current roster. Young players will take their experiences this year and learn from them. League playoffs is a reasonable expectation three years down the road.
PO: Can we talk about you being featured as the “Campus Cutie” on Her Campus a few years back?
MS: I want to thank Jessica Liu for the nomination. Top 5 achievement while at Haverford.
PO: What’s your go-to song before games?
MS: This may sound crazy, but I listen to the soundtrack to “La La Land” before every game. Saw the movie over winter break, and though the ending was sad, the music is both inspiring and upbeat.
PO: What other activities are you involved in on campus?
MS: I am an executive member on SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee). Heading into the spring, I want to continue to promote attendance at sporting events across the athletic department.
PO: I hate to ask this, but have you decided what you’re doing after graduation?
MS: The plan is to go to law school eventually. Not sure where yet. But I’m also thinking about finding an opportunity to continue playing basketball overseas.
PO: Okay, then I guess we can get a little nostalgic. What has your favorite basketball experience been here at Haverford?
MS: My favorite basketball experience would have to be beating Swarthmore at the buzzer to end my sophomore season. Gibby Graves essentially hit a walk-off to end his career.
PO: What about your favorite non-basketball Haverford experience?
MS: Off the court, my favorite experience is actually ongoing right now. My thesis is about Jewish basketball in Philadelphia in the early 1900s, so it is definitely a topic I enjoy researching and writing on.
PO: Thanks a bunch for taking the time to sit down with me, Sherm. I really appreciate it. Congratulations again on 1,000 points.
MS: Thanks, Pat. Looking forward to baseball season.
Photo by Managing Editor Ethan Lyne