What Collin Hartman’s return means for Indiana

  • 03/30/2017 2:42 pm in

Indiana’s senior night festivities after a narrow 63-62 win over Northwestern on Feb. 25 acted as a celebration for one of the program’s most vital pieces over the last four seasons.

Collin Hartman, who committed to the program in November of 2011, helped IU win a Big Ten title and battled through various injuries, stood at midcourt on Branch McCracken Court and delivered a speech that felt like a goodbye. Fans applauded him, showed their appreciation and also watched as he proposed to his longtime girlfriend.

Hartman was lost for the season in September with a knee injury and his absence last season was a significant setback for the Hoosiers. With Yogi Ferrell, Max Bielfeldt, Nick Zeisloft, Ryan Burton and Troy Williams all gone from 2015-16’s Big Ten championship team, the expectation was that Hartman would help fill a leadership void.

Instead, Hartman’s role last season was confined to being a spectator on the bench as the Hoosiers took a nosedive in Big Ten play. The injury narrative was overplayed nationally as Indiana underachieved and lost to Georgia Tech in the NIT, but there’s also no denying that Hartman’s absence was a tangible factor in IU’s struggles.

Now that we know Hartman’s senior speech wasn’t a goodbye, what does his return mean for Indiana moving forward? Several things.

First, it’s our first major validation that the current Indiana locker room is embracing the Archie Miller era with open arms. Hartman was recruited from his early days at Cathedral by Tom Crean. It would have been understandable for him to look around and play elsewhere as a graduate transfer with the coaching change. It was certainly within his right. But he didn’t. And Miller has to be looked at as a major part of Hartman’s reason to come back. If Hartman didn’t believe in what Miller will implement in Bloomington, he wouldn’t have committed to a return. Hartman had options beyond basketball, but chose to put them on hold for a chance at one more run.

His decision also serves as a strong indicator that Hartman believes he will be healthy enough to play a significant role on next season’s team. Hartman has battled knee injuries throughout his career and constant rehab can be mentally exhausting.

“I needed to make sure that I could fully dedicate myself both mentally and physically to the process,” Hartman said in the release issued by Indiana on Thursday. “It is important that I am able to come back and perform at the level I was at before the injury occurred.”

The on-court impact of a Hartman return will also have a statistical impact, even though the numbers might not be eye popping. He’s a capable 3-point shooter who is also crafty at times in getting to the basket and moving without the ball. Hartman moves the ball, he’s willing to make the extra pass and he generally helps make others around him better. He’s also versatile enough to play multiple positions, which he proved when he started at center in multiple games as a sophomore.

There’s also the intangibles Hartman will bring that Miller, who talked toughness and “attacking mindset” in his introductory press conference, will appreciate. Hartman played three NCAA tournament games in 2016 with a fractured wrist. He also tore his ACL after his forgettable freshman season and came back a totally different player as a sophomore. As a freshman, he could barely sniff the rotation on a team that didn’t make the postseason. As a sophomore, he routinely started on a team that won 20 games and made the tournament.

When Miller spoke about his recruiting approach on Monday, he cited the need to recruit his current players first and said that “even thought I didn’t recruit them, they’re mine.” With Thursday’s news that Hartman will come back for a fifth season in Bloomington, it’s clear that Miller’s words are being embraced in the Indiana locker room.

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  • bball at nick’s

    That would be Archie’s robot clone, LOL.

  • N71

    This isn’t very scientific but I always felt the weave was about opportunity versus imposing your will. The weave waiting for a failure in the defense so a slasher could penetrate to cause disruption. A disciplined defensive system like Wisconsin’s for example could hold out and force a bad 3 point shot and may be one of the reasons we haven’t done to well against them of late. If you have the talent, I’d prefer to impose our will on others. Throw it down to Thomas and DeRon and have them move people around.

  • Ole Man

    LOL! Kinda sums it up.

  • TomJameson

    N71, that may not be very scientific, but it is spot on. It really is about opportunity, but the opportunities are supposed to be shoot a 3, slash to the rim to shoot/draw a foul, pass to another slasher, or kick it out for an outside shot (not necessarily a three). Wisconsin aside, it still produced a top 15 offense.

    It does give the player options to do several things, depending on what’s being given (opportunity). If IU had been focusing on developing and playing a high ranking defense to go along with it, we wouldn’t have a new coach, and IU would have won a lot more games in the last few years.

    Not sure I understand what you’re saying about forcing our will down low with TB and DD. Understand the moving people around part, but an effective offense has to have more than one tool to work with. If IU concentrated on scoring in the middle, it would be easy to defend against them.

  • aHoopandaPrayer

    Wow- great info. Makes sense. I was on academic scholarship, not athletic (early 2000s), and I’m sure it didn’t count against the available athletic scholarships.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I for one could careless he has made himself irrelevant and classless.

  • aHoopandaPrayer

    The academic scholarship has a GPA minimum, else you lose the money. It was 3.0 when I was there.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    I thought the same thing! Don’t see that happening, but you never know. When Dane was asked if he had any interest in the IU job, his response was “Yeah, I’m interested!”, so that tells me he’s probably thinking his next step will be head coach somewhere. Would be great to have him, though!

  • TomJameson

    I bet the academic scholarship minimums are greater than the athletic scholarships (which I thought were 2.5). I want to stress that I don’t actually know for sure.

    Sigh … looks like I’ll have to do some research. And I was going to try to be lazy today. Hahaha

  • N71

    Another non scientific perspective but I’ve always felt your bigs in basketball are a little like your offensive line in football. If your alpha can impose themselves/have their way, it trigger a series of other things, making it easier for the pack to eat so-to-speak.

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    Zing!

  • TomJameson

    Oh, I absolutely agree with that. IU hasn’t utilized their bigs in the best way IMHO. I totally get it that having an outside shot makes it harder for our bigs to be guarded, but they still should be playing the center position. It’s not all one way, or all the other, it needs to be a mix to make it harder to defend against.

    I wonder if TB can be convinced to play a little bit more like he did in his freshman year, more of a center and less of a forward. Although, I would like to see TB and DD play together a lot more often.

  • VAHoosier

    Archie reportedly told Durham’s father that he wants Al, that he plans to recruit him…

  • VAHoosier

    Someone mentioned in a comment here, without naming a source, that Gelon is expected to transfer. I haven’t been able to find any substantiation for that, though.

  • “But serious question, how in the hell is CH going to top his senior night from this season?”

    conference championship.

  • Greg Gard as well.

  • VAHoosier

    Yes, with emphasis on keeping perspective… not a strong suit for IU fans 🙂

  • Lance76

    I would like to see TB on the block, but not dribbling into traffic. The exception may be a high/low or outside /inside to DD. I forget the game last winter, but TB to DD (low) pass back to TB, repost and ball back to DD for a smooth score. TB is very good, but would be wise to get a few more of DD post moves without dribbling.

  • I don’t see anything wrong with the university being able to withhold the release approval. A student-athlete is supposed to be committing to the school first — it’s the school that’s providing the scholarship, not the coach. At the same time, I don’t think a kid should be forced to stay, which Archie naturally said he would never do.

    So, asking the kid to at least talk to the new coach first seems completely reasonable to me.

  • I’m 100% sure he’s a fan of the IU basketball program. He just can’t stand the IU administration.

  • That wouldn’t surprise me. Nor would it surprise me if Archie were to sit down with kids and tell them the real scoop about their prospects going forward. It’s the one time I think a coach can do that without it being a negative — Archie didn’t recruit these kids, and so while he’s taking responsibility for them as he should, if he lays out the situation honestly and they decide to transfer, that’s okay.

    It’s different than a coach who recruits a kid and then at some point pushes him out the door because the roster wasn’t managed well. Not pointing fingers here, for real, because I don’t actually know how TC handled such things. I do get the impression, though, that TC managed the roster differently than Archie will.

  • Well, “fan” is short for “fanatic.”

  • IUMIKE1

    Strangely enough I think he was maybe like some of the others as in he was waiting to see what the coaching situation looked like before committing themselves to a decision one way or another.

  • John D Murphy

    His name isn’t on the early entrants list on DraftExpress yet. No timestamp on when they last updated. It is a comprehensive list and also shows who has announced they are returning to school.

  • TomJameson

    That’s exactly why I like seeing those two play together …. plays like that are excellent, and they did that more than once. I love seeing TB play the 4 …. when DD plays the 5. 🙂

  • Outoftheloop

    Correct! I really want Moore! James is not a “win a Banner” college player. I see a pro path like Troy carved out last year for James. Every pro team needs great 3-point shooting. He has a chance! I also want Smith! Archie will love him. So minus one with James and minus a second with Durham. So we are at 14 with lots of time left to sort it out.

  • Outoftheloop

    No, no academic scholarships for basketball or football players, after they started with athletic scholarships!

  • Outoftheloop

    Not after signing the NLOI.

  • Outoftheloop

    What sport? Were you ever on an athletic scholarship? Did you sign a NLOI? You see my point.

  • Outoftheloop

    Good point. In the B1G season only Devonte Green shot 3’s at over 40%. James and Robert were at 37+%, and Josh at 38%. Not good enough!

  • Outoftheloop

    But not the NCAA Championship for Guard or Davis.

  • Outoftheloop

    That is not my read of James personality. As I said above he is not a “win a Banner” college player.

  • Outoftheloop

    But Troy went from D-League to NBA money. James is a much better shooter.

  • Outoftheloop

    Do Archie and Dane even know each other? A head coach deserves his OWN staff!