The Jackson Heights native, in his fifth-year on the Seawolves' men's basketball team, was anxious to begin his final season of collegiate basketball. He wanted to prove himself after what he considered a disappointing junior year and wanted to do so in front of friends and family in his first game at Alumni Hall.
Despite his team's 92-62 regular season opening loss to the 24th-ranked Red Storm, the former Archbishop Molloy standout achieved his goal. The 6-foot, 185-pound rock-solid forward, who started the game was second on the team with 15 points, added two rebounds an assist in 26 minutes.
"Last year I didn't play particularly well," Hartman said. "I just wanted to get out there and when I was on the layup line hearing our small crowd cheering felt good. I just tried to work hard and all my tension went away."
Hartman's junior year, Stony Brook's first as a Division I school, was supposed to be a joyous one, but instead he averaged just 6.6 points and 3.5 rebounds a game in a season that saw him go head-to-head with head coach Nick Macarchuk.
"Rob and I had a difference of opinion last year and I was very hard on him during the summer," Macarchuk said. "But he's responded great and has become the best and most consistent player from the first practice to now."
"We had different philosophies, but I spent the whole summer working on my game," Hartman said. "Last year I didn't play to my potential. I know I am a shooter, so I worked on my defense. I've been playing hard on defense and it leads to offense. As long as I do that I should be pretty good."
As if playing St. John's wasn't daunting enough, Hartman was asked to guard Red Storm senior Anthony Glover in the early part of the first half. Despite giving up six inches and 40 pounds, Hartman didn't flinch and battled the big man in the lane.
"When I was in high school, I always had to guard bigger guys," he said. "I like to battle down low and Anthony Glover is a great player. I'll love to tell people one day I stopped him a couple of times. I was up to the challenge."
After a traveling call and an early foul underneath the basket, Hartman nailed his first shot, a three from the top of the key to cut the Red Storm's lead to two, 8-6 with 15:46 left in the first half.
Following the made three, Hartman badly missed from beyond the arc four minutes later which led to a change in philosophy.
"I hit my first jumper and I felt good, but the next one was not as good, so I figured, why should I settle for a jump shot," he said. "I went to the basket, drew some fouls and tried to mess up their defense and give my team a boost."
Hartman did just that and exploded the lane for a bucket to cut St. John's lead to 24-10 with 11:08 left before he picked up his third foul and was forced to sit the remaining 8:35 of the first half.
Drawing the taller but slower Reggie Jessie in the second half, Hartman scored seven straight points for Stony Brook after halftime.
After scoring on a sweet spin move, he finished the break with a layup and then cut to the hole and scored while drawing a foul from Jessie. The made free throw cut the Red Storm's lead to 59-43 with 15:42 left in the half. It was the closest the Seawolves would get.
With 10:28 left in the half, Hartman went to the line again, but it would his most embarrassing moment of the night as he shot an air ball on the one-and-one and the crowd let him hear it.
"I saw it all the way and I was thinking, 'Don't shoot it long,' and I short-armed it," Hartman said with a smile. "I wanted to crawl into a hole. I mean, the game was at St. John's, on television, but what can you do. I'm sure I'll hear about it for the next week and a half or so."
After averaging 16 points a game in his senior year at Molloy, Hartman chose Stony Brook because he knew making the jump from Division II to Division I. He averaged 8.3 points in 23 appearances in his freshman year.
He was forced to red-shirt his sophomore year after tore the ACL in his right knee during the summer. He came back and averaged 7.5 points a game in 22 games in the 1998-99 season.
After a disappointing junior campaign, Hartman was impressive in the preseason, scoring 22 points in an 87-78 win over Central Connecticut State. He followed that up with six points and a team-high eight rebounds in the Seawolves' 77-68 win over the Long Island Panthers in their final exhibition game.
©2000 Community News Group
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