Former Indiana forward Collin Hartman was a member of Indiana’s 2015-16 Big Ten championship team and also played for Archie Miller during the 2017-18 season, Miller’s first in Bloomington.
Hartman, who now lives in Houston, spoke at length with Inside the Hall recently about life outside of basketball, his time at Indiana, what Miller is building at IU and more.
Here is part two of our two part Q & A with Hartman:
Inside the Hall: You mentioned the injuries you went through and being injury prone. Were there times when you went through various things where you thought, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I just want to be a regular student.’
Collin Hartman: Regular student? Hell no. (Laughs.) No offense to regular students. But I would never just hang ’em up and not finish what I started. The only thing that crossed my mind was, ‘do I want to transfer?’ And that crossed my mind several times.
ITH: Was that after Crean left or while he was still the coach?
Hartman: Before he left. It was my freshman year. Because I was a deer in headlights. I barely played at all, right? I made zero 3s the entire year.
ITH: And that was on a team that couldn’t shoot …
Hartman: Right. It’s astounding. And then the following year after I did my knee rehab and spent a lot of time with coach (Tim) Buckley and on my shooting, I was what, second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage or something like that?
ITH: I still remember the Maryland game (2014-15 season) when they thought they were going to come in there and kick your ass. They had Damonte Dodd guarding you and you just started to splash 3s on him. Do you remember that game?
Hartman: (Laughing.) Yeah, I was the stretch five. I remember coach Crean specifically called a four low with me running point. And Dodd was guarding me. And he said, ‘go by him. Go by him.’ (Laughs.) I took one rhythm dribble from the top of the key and left it fly. And I was like, ‘damn, this better go in.’ Because coach Crean literally just told me to go by him. But he was sagging off and I let it fly because I had hit two before that.
I was starting at the five. Hanner (Mosquera-Perea) had gotten hurt. And I was starting at the five at 6-foot-6, 205 soaking wet. So we just played small ball. And they would put their five on me and I would just move non-stop. Facilitating, finding open shots, getting lost in the defense, setting ball screens, putting bigs in the pick-and-pop situation where they have to guard the point guard and try to get back out to me and if they close out late I’m going by because they’re off balance. There’s so much that goes into it, but it took the league well over half the season to figure out that they had to guard me with a 3. They couldn’t guard me with a five. That Maryland was when it first started. It was a big game. National television. They were ranked and coming in and we ended up smacking them.
ITH: That was Melo Trimble’s freshman season.
Hartman: Yeah … My sophomore year was also the season where I think halfway through the season I was leading the conference in blocks. (Laughs.)
ITH: How was it defensively trying to guard on the other end? It was obviously a huge advantage on one end, but how brutal was it trying to guard some of those guys?
Hartman: I mean, I was guarding dudes like Frank Kaminsky. He had me by six inches and 30 pounds. I was allowed to be super, super annoying and super aggressive because of my size difference, so I was just using my feet and using my brain. By there’s a certain point where size matters. I don’t care what you say. And there were several times where I would get caught dead in the water, caught behind in the post and I’m supposed to be fronting or off of a reversal and they just pin me. There were times I’d go back to the huddle and say ‘coach, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’ve done everything I can right now.’ So we had to do a bunch of different defensive schemes. Help on the backside on the lob if I’m fronting. We had our defense down, but there was a lot of adjustment for sure.
ITH: How do you think things have gone so far under Archie? You were there one year with him and then obviously the Romeo (Langford) season there was a ton of hype for, but it didn’t really turn out as well people would have liked. What’s your outlook going forward?
Hartman: I have all the confidence in the world in coach Miller and that staff. It’s going to come down to time. And I always tell people … people who are calling for his job, it’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Because think about it … do we want to become the university that turns over a coach every three or four years? No because A. No coach is going to come here and B. No players are going to come here because there is zero stability. We’re paying the man. Let him do his job. Let him get his guys underneath him, get his type of guys for his system and give him time to build his culture. I don’t care what you say, but coaches all have different cultures and different ways they conduct themselves and run their programs. And that’s going to take time. So I have all of the faith in the world. I think he’s getting phenomenal recruits. I think he has great schemes in place. I think that he knows exactly what he’s doing and where he’s going. I’m optimistic about it and I know this next year, if it happens, has a bunch of potential. I’m excited. I truly am.
ITH: Were you surprised that the season after you left didn’t go as well as many thought it would?
Hartman: Yeah, I was. I think it really came down to maybe two things. Just guy’s demeanors. You had guys like Romeo (Langford). That’s just how he plays. He’s a very nonchalant, laid back guy, right? Even keeled. When you have a guy that has very low outward energy and expression running your team and leading your team as a freshman, that’s tough. So that, just the whole demeanor of the team and how guys carried themselves, I think that was one of the biggest problems. And also, I hate to blame it on this but it’s 100 percent true because it is why we sucked my freshman year, we didn’t have any shooting. When we stepped up and made shots consistently, that’s why we started off hot. Guys hit a few shots, which opened up the wings for Romeo to drive and hit his midrange game and get in his flow, but the second that guys stopped making shots, the confidence went down. And that takes away the midrange game and the drives. And that’s when the offense gets stagnant because they didn’t have to respect different aspects of our offense. They didn’t have to guard shooters because there was a severe lack of them. They’d take their chances with us missing.
I’m going to tell you right now, coach Miller works on shooting every single day. And so it’s going to come down to a mindset thing for these guys. They are given all of the resources in the world … managers 24-7, shooting guns, all of that. You have all of the shooting tools that you could possibly need. It’s just going to come down to guys staying in the gym and knocking down shots regularly and staying confident.
ITH: On Romeo’s season … to this day if I tweet something about him, there will be a certain set of comments I’ll get that say he was a bust … I don’t know if it is just because the expectations were ridiculous, but do you think any of that is unfair? The way people, in a lot of ways, kind of ripped him for how he played at IU. The dude averaged 16 points with a torn ligament in his wrist. What did you think about that, especially as someone who is from Indiana, to see how some fans bailed on him?
Hartman: That’s the Indiana fanbase, in my opinion. You’ve got a bunch of people who never played the game, especially at this level. And you got a lot of people who didn’t even go to the university. That’s what makes Indiana fans so great is they are so passionate. But they are also very irrational. You have to put it in perspective. This kid is 18 years old. The thing is, he’s so young and when you get put on a pedestal like that and you have such high expectations and the stress … when fans turn their TV off, the game is over. But the dude still has to live with whatever the result was. He’s gotta go back to his dorm room. Not an apartment, not living on his own … he goes to a dorm room because he’s an 18 year old kid.
My freshman year, I almost transferred because the Indiana fanbase said I was a wasted scholarship, I didn’t deserve my scholarship, I shouldn’t be here, I’m worthless … I internalized that stuff as a freshman because I didn’t know any better. And my sophomore year on, I didn’t care what the fans thought or said. Because none of them had been in my shoes, ever. I stopped reading your guy’s (message) boards because people would comment and say whatever. I stopped reading all of that stuff. Because none of it was positive.
And so as a kid, it is hard to stay off of those platforms and it’s hard to not internalize those things because you are not emotionally mature enough to do it yet. I was blessed and lucky enough to have a support system that reinforced that I belonged there and that I could do it and that I was doing the right things and that it was going to take time. A lot of kids don’t have that.
Think about it this way. I always ask IU fans, do you have kids? Just imagine if you had thousands and thousands of people just destroying that person’s personal identity not just as a player, but them as a person. Destroying them on the most public of platforms, how would you feel for that person? It’s hard because people are irrational and don’t understand that. Yes, you can be passionate, but you have to be passionate in the right way. You can be critical, but you have to be critical in the right way. You can’t just throw out insults and throw out irrational comments when you have nothing to back it up. And you have no perspective because you are not in their day-to-day.
Even you guys in the media room have more perspective because you are at least talking to the coaches and having interviews with us. You guys turn off the recorders and we have a personal relationship like I do with you and Zach (Osterman) and Kyle (Neddenriep) and all of those guys, it’s different. You guys know us on more of a personal level than fans do. So they don’t understand that kids read that stuff. And they take it to heart. And their parents take it to heart and it pisses them off, too. And it really accomplishes nothing.
Because I’m going to tell you right now, all of these fans tweeting at the coaches tweeting at the coaches saying ‘you need to play so and so,’ they’re not reading that. (Laughing.) Coach Miller is getting paid a lot of money. Do you think he’s not going to do his best? Do you think he’s going to listen to some guy on some message board or tweeting him that’s never played the game before at this level? Do you think he’s going to listen to that? No. So you are literally wasting words. Wasting your time and energy and all of that. I just think it is comical that people think they’re going to make a difference by doing that. All you are doing is bringing negative energy to the program, the players, to the coaching staff, everything. You’re not accomplishing anything. I always thought it was comical how people truly think they’re making a difference when you say things like that. It’s not for the better, that’s for sure.
ITH: Do you think what we’re going through right now in this world can end up being a positive in some way?
Hartman: I’ve been thinking a lot about that because you’ve got to start finding the positives in every situation in life, right? This is just an enormous situation.
It’s kind of weird, but I saw this post that said something about this being a message from God or whatever higher power that you believe in that this world is not ours, right? And that we’ve just been trashing it. We take things for granted like being able to go hang out with friends or being able to go to bars or being able to hang out with our grandparents and all of that stuff and how delicate life can be. I don’t think we appreciate that as much as we should. You don’t ever know what you’ve got until it is gone. Our freedom, our daily lives and all of the possibilities that we have the option to go to and do … like for me, we went to a restaurant last night. We sat on a patio away from everybody else and they had the tables 12 feet apart and we were sitting there and had a whole new appreciation for the little things like that.
And I think that everybody should take a little inventory on the things they’ve taken for granted. For me, it’s a haircut. (Laughs.) It’s so minuscule, but it makes a huge difference. It’s all of the things that we have access to in the United States that not everybody has access to across the world. You have to keep it in perspective that we have things so good during normal days. The whole world is getting a shock right now. I think that we need to appreciate the things that we can do and are able to do and have been blessed with. And take into account how delicate how life really is. I think people are going to appreciate sports more. I think sports are going to explode when things open back up.
Filed to: Collin Hartman