When the Irish take the floor Friday night in their opening round of the NCAA Tournament, they will be doing so after a remarkable turnaround to their season.
Head Coach Mike Brey has said that in his 12 years at Notre Dame, he can't recall a captain having to lead through such difficult circumstances as Scott Martin has had this season.
Of course, Martin didn't figure it out right away, but once he did, the Irish were on their way.
When the season started, Martin was one of Notre Dame's two 5th-year senior captains along with Tim Abromaitis.
"Tim and I, neither one of us are big talkers really,” said Martin. “We're not ‘rah rah’ guys. We don't yell and scream and get guys fired up."
Six games into the season, Notre Dame faced a devastating blow. Abromaitis was lost for the season due to injury. Martin was still trying to find himself, and in a way, he had lost himself on the court—struggling mightily on the offensive end.
"When Tim went down, I stayed the same way and that carried through to the Gonzaga game," Martin explained.
That game, the Irish hit rock bottom with a 20-point loss on the road that somehow felt much worse. The stretch turned into four defeats in five games.
"I don't think I was as good of a leader as I should have been before that point,” Martin said. “I felt it was my responsibility to step up and say something."
The Irish didn't sky rocket to success from that point. It was as slow as it was sure, but their captain found his game and found himself.
"It's my last shot,” Martin said. “I didn't want to go out with a bad memory. I wanted to go out saying to myself, ‘I did everything I could do.' I was just laying it all on the line from then on out and good things have happened."
Yet it was never Martin’s personality that changed. Just his approach. He still isn't the guy that likes to yell. He just will when he has too.
"It speaks a little more when I'm yelling that everyone realizes the severity of the situation that, if you got me to yell, things are not good."
Martin isn't worrying about whether this is his last NCAA Tournament. He has applied for a 6th year of eligibility on account of his transfer from Purdue and an injury. The NCAA has yet to rule on it.