He’s not necessarily the player people first notice while watching a game.
When junior forward Collin Hartman is on the floor, you don’t tend to notice all that he’s doing, in part because that’s what he wants.
He doesn’t try to force offense or score a lot of points. Sometimes his attempts to not stand out have hurt him, IU Coach Tom Crean has said, but that won’t change Hartman’s approach.
Unless something special is happening in IU’s first round NCAA Tournament game against Chattanooga on Thursday, he's more than fine remaining a role player.
“If it’s not your night to score then it’s not your night to score,” Hartman said. “We have plenty of guys on this team who can score the ball. You just have to control what you can control, which is getting rebounds and getting stops, setting screens, getting guys open and things of that nature.”
In IU’s last game against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament, he didn’t score. He only attempted two shots and didn’t make it to the free throw line.
He’s only shot 19 free throws all season, 10th on the Hoosiers and less than senior guard Nick Zeisloft who spends most of his time outside the 3-point arc and sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. who hasn’t played since December.
Sometimes, that’s because when Hartman drives the ball he’s looking to pass. In IU’s last regular season game against Maryland, he drove the ball from the wing and had an opportunity to shoot over the outstretched hand of a defender sliding over.
Instead, Hartman noticed where the defender came from before laying the ball off the freshman center Thomas Bryant for a wide-open dunk. Other times, Hartman will drive and kick to the corner or the wing.
Sometimes, the player Hartman passes to shoots the ball. Other times, he’ll continue to pass the ball around the scrambling defense set in motion by Hartman’s penetration until the Hoosiers have just the right shot.
But recently, these moments have been happening less frequently. Hartman is having trouble staying out of foul trouble, and as a result, he is seeing a decrease in his minutes.
He played 20 minutes against Michigan on Friday and 18 against Iowa on March 1. He's started 17 of IU's last 19 games, but oftentimes can't stay on the court as long as the other four Hoosier starters.
A lot of the fouls aren’t times when he hacks someone across the arm as they’re trying to shoot. Rather, they’re small fouls. Some Hoosier fans might disagree with the call, but either way, Hartman is still being forced to the bench for extended periods of time.
“I just have to be a few steps faster,” Hartman said. “Be more aggressive I guess. Sometimes I’m less aggressive, sometimes that’s the way the game goes.”
He can’t control whether or not the official will choose to blow his whistle, just how aggressive he is defensively. He also can’t control the opposing team’s defense and whether or not it leaves him as IU’s best chance to score.
That means Hartman is left to focus on the things he can control. He said he focuses on setting a good screen to get a shooter open or boxing a player out. Sometimes that means he gets the rebound, sometimes it falls to a teammate.
He focuses on not turning the ball and helping the Hoosiers get stops on defense. He’s fine not being one of the Hoosiers constantly focused on. He’ll continue controlling what he can and let the game play itself out.
“You can’t change it you just have to control the things you can control like getting stops or rebounding the ball or not turning it over,” Hartman said. “You just have to take what the game gives you and play.”