STEVENS: Angela Hartill's Toughest Critic on The Court is Angela Hartill
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/16/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 16, 2009

Angela Hartill
Year: Senior
Height: 6-foot-3
Stats: 12.0 pts, 4.9 rebs
Born: Dec. 1, 1986
Hometown: Deer Park, Wash.
Parents: Ann Hovley and Miles Hartill
Trivia: Rooms with Amy Beggin and Jessica Kielpinski. Best recipe is lemon & pepper chicken. Likes to draw with pencil or charcoal. Last book read was Twilight.

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's a bit of an exaggeration, a borrowing from a scene in the movie "Animal House", but it's a good way to illustrate what Angela Hartill sometimes goes through on the basketball court.

There is critical creature of conscience on Hartill's right shoulder nagging her and saying things like, "What did you do that for? That was a dumb foul!" There is another voice on the other shoulder saying, "Forget about it. Move on. No big deal."

The nagging creature brings Hartill down, takes her out of her game. The other voice makes her better.

"The biggest problem she has is with herself," said Lobos coach Don Flanagan. "There are very few people who can guard her when she is playing relaxed. But she can take herself out of a game for a while with her thoughts.

"She is hard on herself. She doesn't accept the minuteness failure. If she forgets to do something or makes a mistake, she might be down on herself for several minutes."

Now, it's not that Hartill is unaware of her inner demons. She knows she is a bit of a perfectionist and, like most perfectionists, she lingers too long on things that, well, didn't go perfect. Like a missed layup. Like a bad pass. Like a bad foul.

"For me, it's so much mental, " says the 6-foot-3 senior. " I need to control my thoughts, control what's going on in my head. I need to get rid of my bad thoughts and move on. That's the biggest thing holding me back and I need to handle it, but easier said than done."

Actually, Hartill has a technique to wash away the bad thoughts. If you ever notice her talking on the court, it's that technique at work. But it's not that Hartill is running around the court talking to herself or the guys on her shoulders. Instead, she talks to teammate, roommate and best friend, Amy Beggin.

They have this thing they do to produce calmness, concentration and hopefully self-forgiveness. It's a word association thing, but Hartill won't divulge the inner working of this procedure.

"We have a little thing we do on the court," said Hartill. "I can't give away the secret. One of us will say a word in the category and the other person has to respond with a word in the same category. We can't say the same word twice. We stay in the category, but I can't tell you what it is."

OK, the category isn't food (we think), but if it was the sequence might go like this. Hartill or Beggin miss an easy shot, whatever, and one of them is ticked off. Let's say it's Hartill.

So Amy says: "Lasagna," and Angela says, "Noodles."

Amy says, "Sauce," and Angela says, "Alfredo."

And hopefully the bad moment has been washed away. "Our thinking about the reply, gets our minds off the mistake," says Hartill. "It helps us get past something. For the most part, it works."

For the most part, Hartill doesn't really need the word association game much because she usually is performing at a high level just like the UNM team that has twice pushed itself into The Associated Press Top 25.

Hartill is a solid threat inside for the Lobos because she can go out and knock down a 3-pointer, has a sweet 15-foot set shot, and has a dazzling array of moves in the low post.

"She is a player who creates problems for the opposition," said Flanagan. "She probably has better moves inside than Dionne (ex-Lobo Dionne Marsh). She always has the toughest defensive assignment inside and is a blue collar type player. She has been great to coach."

Hartill came to UNM from Deer Park, Wash. She had a chance to throw the shot put in college, but preferred to shoot basketballs. She obviously is one of the UNM leaders on the court. She also has a lot of responsibility on the court. Her teammates need her to score points, play defense and stay in the game physically and mentally.

"I enjoy the role," said Hartill. "It's like it was in high school when my team depended on me. It's nice to get back to that because that was a very enjoyable time in my life and I want to embrace that role again here.

"This is a fun team. This is the best chemistry we've had since I've been here. There are conflicts. We're girls and we sometimes let little things bother us. It happens. But we all know how to get over things and never carry anything onto the court. We hang out with each other. It's really nice.

"I'm really happy I came to UNM. They have everything I wanted here. But I want to pick it up this year and have a great season. It's my last year and I have nothing to lose."

Well, maybe one thing, Angela: Mr. Nag, that annoying creature on your right shoulder.

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner