Oct 24, 2012, 9:50 PM EDT
Last season, veteran forward Scott Martin was voted by his teammates during the end of the year banquet as Notre Dame’s Most Valuable Player. Martin, now in his sixth collegiate basketball season, was the only regular Irish starter not to receive some type of weekly recognition from the BIG EAST conference. Never mind the awards and accolades, Martin understands and, more importantly, embraces his role.
“Sometimes it feels like I’m the team dad,” the 24-year old Martin laughs. “But I have a great time with the guys and they make me feel young again. Guys are a year older, a year more experienced, and our key group has been through the rigors of the BIG EAST regular season.”
After a bumpy start to last season that included 20-point losses to Missouri and Gonzaga, it was Martin who helped keep a young Notre Dame team focused on one practice and one game at a time. With fellow senior Tim Abromaitis done for the season following an ACL injury, Martin remained as the only senior leader on the court.
“When we were really struggling after the game against Indiana, we reinvented ourselves in practice. Our expectations are more what we do on a daily basis and not looking two or three months into the future. That’s what helped this team last year, taking it one day at a time which helped us relax.”
Head coach Mike Brey counts on Martin because of his unwavering consistency on the floor, especially on defense. He was the guy trusted to guard the opponent’s best player such as West Virginia’s Kevin Jones or Marquette’s Jay Crowder last season. Martin’s unselfishness and willingness to do the dirty work has impressed the coaching staff because he’s concerned with the team first and foremost.
“All I know is we are better defensively when Scott is with whatever four guys I put on the floor with him,” explains Brey. “I’ve never said this about any of our leaders, but I feel like he’s a player-coach and what made us good last year and will help us this year is that he was very secure with himself in letting other players shine.”
The statistics may suggest Martin doesn’t mean as much as others with higher point and rebound totals, but he is certainly the exception on a confident team with high expectations. Count on him to once again be the catalyst for the Irish squad that is all of a sudden not so young anymore.
“This is the best I’ve felt since I got hurt. I’m excited and prepared to get out of the gates ready to go.”
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