BLOOMINGTON -- Two games in a row, freshman forward Collin Hartman has earned the shot few thought he would get during his first season with the Hoosiers.
The 6-foot-6 Cathedral grad, who was the least heralded member of the 2013 recruiting class, was the first player off the bench Friday when IU (4-0) beat Samford. He was one of the first to come Sunday, as well, when the Hoosiers hit a rough patch in their 90-74 win against Stony Brook.
Coach Tom Crean said Hartman, who finished with three rebounds in 12 minutes, brought what the team needed to get a 41-35 halftime lead. This is a play-by-demand team, and every player from Hartman to senior forward Will Sheehey should be on watch.
"We figured out that the intensity and the energy level cannot wane, and if it does, you're not gonna be in the game," Crean said. "Collin came in and changed the energy level. It's a great example: It does not matter who it is, where it is, when it is, there's always somebody that can change momentum, and I thought Collin Hartman did that in the first half.
"He never stopped talking on that bench. He was asking questions, he was constantly pointing things out to his teammates – that's what we have to have. That's how you grow up and learn, and we have to have it from everybody."
The Hoosiers didn't have it from everyone Sunday, and that bothered Crean. Some lacked focus. Others lacked energy. IU came away with a convincing win, but the Hoosiers can't hold up against stronger opponents without a bench and court full of players who are ready to go.
"When you go in, you absolutely have to be ready to go," Crean said. "That's hard for a young team, I get that, but we're going to keep pushing that constantly.
"We had some guys tonight that were ready to go when they went in; we had a couple that weren't. We'll learn from it."
Sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell has seen the younger players doing just that within the game. Sunday was a lull for some of the Hoosiers, but for the most part, the improvement again stood out.
"The young guys did a great job coming in, like Collin," said Ferrell, who had a team-high 24 points along with six assists and five rebounds. "He came in and gave great energy, and not coming in and trying to do something extraordinary, go for a home-run play. They were taking it possession by possession, and they were playing each possession as hard as they could. Those young guys did a great job."