Hartman cleared for contact, plans to take it slow

This week brought another checkpoint in Collin Hartman’s recovery from knee surgery.

Indiana’s fifth-year senior forward is now cleared for contact — and seemingly ahead of schedule.

Although the medical clearance is a significant milestone in Hartman’s recovery process, especially now that the Hoosiers are back on the court for summer workouts, IU isn’t in any hurry to saddle Hartman with a full workload. The goal is to bring Hartman along carefully, with a bigger focus on having Hartman fully ready and prepared for preseason practice later this fall.

“As we approach these team workouts we’ll be very, very smart with him,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “There is no real reason to speed him up. But I think confidence-wise, mentally and physically, he feels as good as he’s felt in a long, long time. We’ll continue to take him slow, but he’s ahead of schedule just in terms of where he’s supposed to be, doing what he’s going to do.”

Hartman is nearly 10 months removed from surgery on his left knee, which was damaged while completing a non-contact drill last September. It was the second major knee injury Hartman has suffered during his time at Indiana, following a torn ACL in his right knee suffered shortly after his freshman year ended in 2014.

Speaking with reporters for the first time since going through Senior Night festivities in February, Hartman echoed his new coach on Tuesday, balancing his excitement to return to action with the understanding that there’s no need to rush.

“It is a big step, obviously,” Hartman said. “We have taken this process somewhat slowly. We have been very diligent in the rehab and really staying safe, taking the time that we have. There is no need to push into contact and risk a third injury. It has been good to take those steps forward and see the progress.”

Indiana wants that progress to manifest itself on the court this season, especially after the Hoosiers realized how large of a void Hartman’s absence left them last season. Just as much as the Hoosiers missed Hartman’s hustle and versatility as a player, they missed his voice and guidance in team huddles.

Maybe even more so.

“Me and OG (Anunoby) used to joke about it, calling him the annoying guy you always hated hearing, but you knew he was right,” IU forward Juwan Morgan said. “I think that’s what we really missed last year.”

Hartman’s decision to return for a fifth year was a major victory for Miller and the IU program he inherits. Not only does Indiana get a valuable leader, it gets a key contributor and producer on both ends of the floor.

Hartman has started 36 of the 67 games he’s played since emerging as a role player during his sophomore season, hitting 40 percent of his 3-point attempts and averaging 3.1 rebounds during that span.

During his rehabilitation, Hartman says he has focused on returning as one of IU’s most versatile players next season.

“Simply put, (I want to be able to do) whatever the game calls for at that point in time,” Hartman said, “whether it’s guarding a big or guarding a guard or scoring 20 or scoring 0 and getting rebounds or steals or whatever. I just want to be able to play every position that coach needs me and be able to be a Swiss Army knife, where he could put me anywhere at any point in time and I can carry out my job.”

Playing for Miller and the new coaching staff was also a selling point in Hartman’s decision to return.

“It is cool to be a part of two eras,” Hartman said. “I had four great years with Coach (Tom) Crean, won a championship. I have known him since I was in eighth grade. We have an extensive history between the two of us and I am appreciative for everything he has done for me, and I am also looking forward to what we do with Coach Miller and what we have going forward in this year. One of the main reasons I came back was just because I do not get another chance at this.”

And as he continues to work his way back to full speed, that’s the lesson Hartman is impressing most upon his teammates.

“It is hard to put into words what this jersey really means, especially for the guys coming on the campus,” Hartman said. “It is different when you are in Bloomington. People recognize you, they know every move we are making, they know if we are doing something good or doing something bad, walking around or whatever, they know. It means more than they can imagine.

“A lot of these guys have never played without a name on their back and we do not. We just have a name across our chests and that is all that we represent. Yes, we represent our family and represent ourselves, but at the end of the day we represent millions of people that are IU fans that live and die by every game we play.”

Soon, Hartman will be playing in games once again — a reward for almost a year’s worth of rest and rehab that is quickly reaching an end.

“The way he’s handled things in this off-season, he’s given himself a chance to kick off October, November full go,” Miller said.

13 comments

  1. IU is underrated this year because Colin is so underrated… If he stays healthy we’ll be in good shape. A guy who can navigate a sideline during a game, and a clear leader on the floor who does all the dirty work. I’m excited.

  2. Certainly had something to do with the mediocrity of 75% of last season. Yes he is an overachiever and that makes the positive outlook for this season sound.

  3. With so much emphasis on the physical gifts these young men bring to the court, it is easy to underestimate, or fail to appreciate the value of on-court leadership. The peace-of-mind that a team leader can provide to his younger teammates. I think losing Colin last year was a serious blow to IU, but I’m really excited, and pleased for him, that he’s getting one last chance to wear that jersey. And the 40% from 3-point range, but his size, won’t hurt us either. I pray that he stays healthy and gets to depart IU on his terms.

  4. Colin is going to be a huge difference. Also, I think that Juwan Morgan makes a big leap in terms of leadership, too.

  5. Overachiever. C.H. injury had little to do with last season mediocrity. It would have been about the same. Team had poor attitude because of to much NBA thought from players who did not have their head in the college game and we’re frustrated with coaching strategy/system. Traditionally, IU football had more than their fair share of
    overachievers. Nothing wrong with hope and wishing. This coming year I think IU will be at least as good and maybe a little better than in the past few years. Ability of some players brought out of them ( Morgan, Davis will be really good, and C.H. will be a part of that as a strong role player). I think IU has a coach that will bring a college team ability out of these guys that will look much different than what was seen in past many years. IU is thin for the bigs and has to stay injury free.

    1. Easy to recognize on this thread who doesn’t understand how important a team leader is. Mediocrity and lack of leadership go hand and hand.

  6. t- Agree. We saw what happened when we had injury-free, #1 ranked, teams. We were never tracking upward when we reached the Sweet 16 level. Confusion by design only goes so far.
    Those who believe March Madness results would have been different without the injuries last season are merely hitching their wagons to ulterior motives. Custer only had one last stand. The apologists would have kept sitting at their keyboards while firing ‘Sitting Bull’ arrows to defend a coach who would never have enough X’s and O’s troops at the fight. Crean was granted three Sweet 16 ‘Last Stands’ and the results always ended in an opponent’s ambush.

    Interesting Notes:
    → The Battle of Little Bighorn(Custer’s Last Stand) occurred in Montana.
    → Sampson(born in the Lumbee Native American community) began his coaching days at Montana Tech.
    → George Armstrong Custer was raised in Michigan(where Crean was raised as an assistant).
    → Custer was admitted to West Point (first coaching home of Bobby Knight) and quickly moved up to ‘General’ rank.
    → The battle of Little Bighorn was in the year 1876…..exactly 100 years prior to Bob Knight’s first national championship at Indiana. It remains the “last” undefeated season in college basketball.

  7. Nice research. Kind of funny or interesting how parallels can be drawn comparing things, individuals, events, places, situations and circumstances if you look for them and dig them up. Kennedy and Lincoln a famous one, however you can do it on many comparisons.

  8. You are exactly correct, HC. Well said. And the opinion of Hartman’s value as a team leader is backed up by our new head coach who made it a priority to get him back for another year and who very clearly stated that he wanted and needed Hartman to be a part of this team.

  9. Just a bit of a heads up….

    Geoff, Double Down, and Podunker-
    You all spelled his name wrong. It’s a pair of l’s…..Collin Hartman.

  10. Still wouldn’t had much impact on last year’s team under T.C. system and staff. For 2017-18 is a different story because Hartman can lead in collaboration with A.C. and players will play Archie Way and that is the difference. Harmony, rhythm, and a system that players are on the same page and can believe in rather than a segmented fractured system and players were on different pages and definitely did not believe in.

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