Collin Hartman needs to be more aggressive on offense, less so on defense


Junior forward Collin Hartman passes the ball during the game against Creighton on Nob. 19, 2015 at Assembly Hall. Haley Ward and Haley Ward

Collin Hartman is playing anxious and rushed. The junior forward needs to be playing comfortable and urgent, IU Coach Tom Crean said. Playing rushed means he is trying to force his offense.

Playing urgent means attacking his opponent and playing aggressive.

“I don’t think he’s struggling, I don’t think he’s aggressive enough,” Crean said. “I don’t think he’s aggressive enough looking for his shot and he missed some the other day.”

Hartman was inserted into the starting lineup at the start of Big Ten play after an injury to sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. Since then, he’s scored in double figures once and scored five points or less in seven of those games.

In the last four games, Hartman his 4-of-19 shots from the field and has shot 2-of-10 from behind the arc. But Crean hasn’t talked to Hartman about his shooting struggles, insisting he should shoot more.

“But you don’t want to fire it aimlessly,” Crean said. “Especially when you’ve got the ability to do what we do in the paint with penetration and post-ups.”

Getting the ball in the paint is important, Crean said, not just for Hartman but for the Hoosiers. This has been a reason for Hartman’s struggles. The ball is not getting in the paint to open up players on the perimeter because those aren’t moving the ball enough.

Crean said in IU’s 68-63 loss against Penn State he didn’t call enough plays once the movement became stagnant. When the ball is moving, the offense creates itself.

“When we’re moving the ball at a high rate and we’re getting those 17 or 18 assists a game, it’s amazing how good our shooting percentages are,” Crean said. “Collin’s a part of that on both ends with the passing and the shooting.”

But if Hartman has suffered from a lack of aggressiveness offensively, he may be suffering from too much aggressiveness defensively. In those 11 games he’s started in conference play, Hartman has picked up at least three fouls eight times. In four, he’s had at least four fouls and fouled out once.

But this might also be a result of who Hartman is guarding, sophomore guard Robert Johnson said. He fouled out in IU’s 82-79 loss at Wisconsin, when he was the primary defender against Nigel Hayes.

In IU’s 59-58 win against Wisconsin earlier in the season, Hartman picked up four fouls guarding Hayes and was only able to play 10 minutes.

“A lot of games he has been on versatile guys who can score a lot of different ways,” Johnson said. “He’s been doing a good job of trying to be aggressive and sometimes with that aggressiveness comes foul 

Johnson said Hartman has been watching film to see how he can better use his hands but not be forced to the bench because of foul trouble.

But if studying is the way to improve defensively, then complacency might be the answer offensively. If coaches coach a player because he’s in a slump he just becomes conscience of what is wrong and only dives into a deeper slump.

Crean said he actually doesn’t pay attention to shooting percentages or slumps. Instead, he and his staff strictly pay attention to technique.

“We coach into the details and techniques of their shot,” Crean said. “We know where they’re best from and in the span of the game we’ll try to get them in that spot. But the more you start to talk about what a guy is not doing with his shot, the more he’ll try to think about it.”

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