Hartman hopes to return this season

Some nights, Collin Hartman reaches for his bible.

Other times, he lays in bed, closes his eyes and forces himself to sleep. If he doesn’t, Hartman knows what could happen.

His mind might fill with bad thoughts and negativity, unnecessary sidetracks on the road back from knee surgery. There’s plenty of downtime during the rehabilitation process. Hartman knows from experience.

So he’s approaching his latest knee injury with positivity, while holding hope that he may regain his health and see the court before the upcoming season is through.

“You have a lot of time to think,” Hartman said. “Sometimes you really have to stay conscious of keeping your spirits up, staying in your bible and just focusing on the task at hand. Otherwise, you’ll lose yourself and it’ll eat you up.”

Speaking publicly Wednesday for the first time since injuring his left knee in a non-contact drill on Sept. 20, Hartman declined to discuss the nature of the injury, including the severity and the specific procedure he underwent to repair his knee late last month.

He did say, however, that there is a possibility he could return at some point this season — and for right now, that’s enough.

“Obviously, no guarantees,” Hartman said. “It’s been a day-to-day thing, basically just staying focused on the task at hand and rehab. It’s not fun no matter what you’re rehabbing. It hurts. It sucks the most not being able to practice with my team and run sprints and do all the things that I see. It’s killing them, and all I can do is sit here, clap and talk. It’s definitely not fun.”

This is the second knee injury in a little more than two years for Hartman, who injured the ACL in his right knee after his freshman season in 2014. All told, it’s been a rough couple weeks for the Hartman family.

Hartman’s mother also had knee surgery the same week that he was injured, and his brother recently had his wisdom teeth removed.

“The insurance company is like, ‘What is going on with you guys?'” Hartman said with a smile.

Hartman’s sense of humor remains intact. Right now, that’s the key.

His previous experience with knee rehabilitation is keeping him focused. Understanding his limitations also helps him impact Indiana’s team in unseen ways, like lending advice or serving as an extension of the coaching staff.

When the season starts Nov. 11 against Kansas in Hawaii, Hartman won’t be seated at the end of IU’s team bench. He’ll be near the front, or somewhere around the middle in an effort to stay engaged and help however possible.

“He’s always been like Coach Collin to me,” sophomore Juwan Morgan said. “I always called him The Colonel, because that’s what he reminds me of. He’s always been that leader for us. Whenever I didn’t know something, Collin and Yogi (Ferrell) were always the people I was going to.”

Hartman recognizes the value his voice carries in the locker room and on the practice floor. Already, he says he’s pulled aside some of Indiana’s newcomers to explain drills or translate orders from the coaching staff.

He remembers how the program’s expectations and responsibilities froze him as a freshman, and he doesn’t want to see anyone else in a similar spot.

“The best thing I can do is help these guys get acclimated much faster than I did my freshman year, so that they don’t waste a year as I somewhat did,” Hartman said. “I was like a deer in headlights. I want to help vocally and off the court, stuff of that nature to get them through this transitional period.”

So in some respects, the Hoosiers still have their glue guy accounted for. But replacing Hartman on the court, including all the intangible qualities that he brought the past two years, won’t be easy.

Hartman averaged 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest as a junior, starting 24 of the 35 games in which he appeared. He’s also a career 40 percent shooter from 3-point range.

“We miss it a lot,” sophomore center Thomas Bryant said. “When you have a guy like Collin out there, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a hard-nosed, hard-working 3-point specialist out there, who’s going to give you his all each and every time he’s out there on the court. It feels bad to not have him out there.”

Though Hartman is not yet close to any sort of medical clearance, and a timeline for a possible return this season has not yet been defined, he has managed to become a loose participant during IU’s preseason practices.

That means doing things like assisting with passing drills in the post and completing stationary shooting exercises around the floor.

“I’m still cash at the free throw line,” Hartman said.

Whether he gets to show that off this season remains to be seen, but Hartman is holding hope.

And clinging to whatever positivity he can find.

“Obviously, I’d love to be back,” Hartman said. “Who knows when I’ll be back. Early, late, I don’t know. I just have to stay focused.”

One comment

  1. Leadership is so important. I guess my high school coaches were about the norm but I was a junior before I really understood the simple ideas they were trying to convey. There were only a couple upperclassmen that made an effort to assist the young guys. That’s the way high school is unless you have coaches that promote that kind of thing. You were kinda on your own.

    While I was no great shakes I was absolutely a better college athlete than I was a high school athlete. I think a big part of that was having the opportunity to wrestle for a HOF coach at IU. Practices were brutal (as are all wrestling practices) but the older guys were teachers. They understood it was part of the system.

    The basketball Hoosiers seem to get a lot of that from their upperclassmen. Year after year.

Comments are closed.