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Hartman is all the rage among assistant coaches
News Sports Reporter
Carlin Hartman wants to be a head coach.


Louisiana-Lafayette had just suffered a 45-point trouncing at the hands of No. 2-ranked Kansas on Saturday, but Carlin Hartman was talking basketball with a smile a minute. The Ragin' Cajuns' assistant coach was filled with energy, and the sweet atmosphere of Allen Fieldhouse had given him a sugar buzz.

Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, Hartman will be the head coach at one of the top-ranked programs in the country and be on the gratifying end of a pasting.

"It makes you want it even more, it makes you even more hungry," said Hartman, the former Grand Island and Tulane standout. "The loss was disappointing, but it was a great learning experience for me being a young coach and wanting to get to the pinnacle, getting to a high-major school. Until that point, I have to do a good job at Louisiana-Lafayette and build a legacy here not just for myself, but for the program."

Hartman, 32, has become one of the rising young assistants in college basketball while earning the reputation as a strong recruiter. He began his coaching career at Rice in 1996, then served as the lead recruiter at McNeese State before returning to Rice and landing his current position at Louisiana-Lafayette in July. The Ragin' Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference are off to a 3-5 start.

Hartman recruited Tierre Brown, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, to McNeese and also steered San Antonio Spurs guard Mike Wilks to Rice. In November, Hartman made a play for Hutch-Tech's Rodney Pierce, who eventually decided on Rider, but landed another talented point guard, Booker Woodfox, one of the top 20 players in Texas.

"You're able to build a team through your eyes, through what you like and what you see," said Hartman, who played forward at Tulane and received his degree in communications in 1994. "Obviously, the head coach has the final say-so, but if you have a boss who's trusting and believes in you and what you see then you're able to formulate opinions on the position of need."

More than recruiting, Hartman enjoys the teaching aspect.

"Having played collegiately and in the CBA, understanding the meaning of a team, I'm always counseling the guys on the importance of being a teammate," he said. "That for me is the best part because it's like being a mentor to the guys."

But there was a time when Hartman didn't know if he wanted to be a coach. He worked long hours trying to help build the McNeese program, whose lone link to big-time basketball is Joe Dumars. Hartman left the business for the private sector for nearly four years.

"At the time, I wanted to get away from basketball," said Hartman, who is married with three daughters. "I had been doing it since my pre-teen years. I didn't have a lot of time to spend with my family, and I'd been down South between New Orleans and living in Texas for a decade, and I never had time to get back home to Buffalo and see my family. I wanted to do something else where I had more time to be with my family."

Hartman relocated to Dallas and eventually became an basketball analyst on the Rice radio network in 2001-02. The urge to coach became too strong to ignore, and he took over basketball operations at the midway point of the 2002-03 season.

"You are who you are," Hartman said. "After a while I just said, "It's time for me to get back in.' "

He handled the game-day operations and departmental communications as well as coordinating various community outreach programs and fund raising. On the court, the 6-foot-7 Hartman assisted in developing the skills of post players, including All-Western Athletic Conference first-teamer Michael Harris. The Owls finished 22-11 last season and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament.

Mickey Walker, Hartman's Syracuse-based AAU coach, said he knew Hartman would be successful in any endeavor he chose.

"In terms of a player that a coach likes, he's the prototypical overachiever," Walker said. "He had the unique perspective in that he would go to practice at Tulane, who at the time had some high-level players but maybe they were underachievers for whatever reason. He would kick their butt every day in practice. He has a perspective for kids who are overachievers because you have to recruit kids like that."

When Hartman was looking at the Louisiana-Layette position, he asked Walker for a recommendation because he didn't know former Ragin' Cajuns head coach Glynn Cyprien that well. But Cyprien already knew about Hartman.

"Mick, I respect your opinion," Cyprien told Walker, "but I was going to hire Carlin anyway."

But a month after Hartman took the job, Cyprien was fired because he did not have a degree from a university listed on his resume. He was replaced by Robert Lee, who retained Hartman.

"He was gracious enough to allow me the opportunity to stay on and let me recruit, and give me more responsibility, which will help me even more in being a head coach," Hartman said.

Hartman credits his coaches - Walker, Niagara Falls AAU coach Michael Hamilton, former Turner-Carroll coach Fajri Ansari and Grand Island coach Jon Roth - as being mentors. Hartman has a network of college coaches whom he speaks with frequently, such as Siena's Rob Lanier and Georgia assistant Desmond Oliver, both Buffalo natives. Perhaps Hartman will serve as someone's mentor, as a head coach, soon.

"That's the goal," Hartman said. "Anytime you're an assistant coach, that's always the goal."