Graduate student Scott Martin (Valparaiso, Ind.), senior Jack Cooley (Glenview, Ill.) and junior Eric Atkins (Columbia, Md.) have been named captains for the 2012-13 University of Notre Dame men’s basketball season.
Martin will captain the team for the second straight year as he becomes the 20th different player in the 108-year history of the Irish basketball program toserve two full seasons as a captain. Atkins was named a team captain in late December 2011 along with Martin and former Irish standout Tim Abromaitis after Abromaitis went down with a season-ending ACL injury. This year will mark Cooley’s first season serving as a team captain.
“These are the three guys that really drive our team and I am excited that they will be leading our group this season,” says 13th-year Irish head coach Mike Brey. “Scott’s the ‘glue’ that holds us together and his maturity and leadership both on and off the courtkeyed our success last year with such a young team.
“I’m really pleased with the way Jack has evolved as a leader,” Brey continues. “He’s become a big voice in our locker room. It’s something that I would not have expected a couple of years ago, but like our players, I have a great deal of respect for Jack and how he has really taken ownership of this team. With Eric as our point guard, he is quarterback and his voice is as important as anyone’s when he is on the floor.”
Martin, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in early May 2012, averaged 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in helping lead the Irish to a 22-12 record in 2011-12. He transferred to Notre Dame in June of 2008 following his freshman year (2007-08) at Purdue University. After sitting out the 2008-09 campaign due to the NCAA transfer rule, Martin missed the entire 2009-10 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during a preseason workout on October 2, 2009.
Martin started all 33 games he played for the Irish last season and scored in double figures in 17 contests and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in three games while averaging 34.7 minutes per contest. Two of his three double-doubles came in both of Notre Dame's victories over USF. In a 60-49 victory during the regular season on Jan. 10, 2012, Martin netted 15 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds against the Bulls. He also tallied a career-high 23 points against Delaware State on Nov. 18, 2011.
Martin served as one of three captains for the season, but his leadership was truly put to the test when Abromaitis, the only other returning starter on the Irish roster, tore his ACL. After an 8-5 start to the non-conference season, Martin was instrumental in leading the Irish to a 13-5 BIG EAST mark, the second-most regular-season league wins in program history, and third-place finish in the final BIG EAST standings.
Notre Dame was 3-3 following its first six conference contests, but then rattled off a school-record nine-game BIG EAST win streak that began with the upset of top-ranked and unbeaten Syracuse (67-58) on Jan. 21. Martin and his teammates also made a third straight appearance in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship.
Martin has started all 66 games he has played in for the Irish and scored 633 points for a 9.6 scoring average and grabbed 346 rebounds (5.2 per game). Over the past two seasons, Notre Dame is 49-19 overall and 27-9 in BIG EAST play.
Martin graduated in December 2011 from Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in history and computer applications and is currently enrolled in graduate school at the University. He recently was honored at the team's annual postseason awards presentation as the Notre Dame Monogram Club Team MVP.
Cooley, a preseason first team all-BIG EAST selection, had a breakout campaign for the Irish a year ago as he earned second-team all BIG EAST honors and was the named the league’s most improved player. Heading into last season, Cooley had played in 55 career contests in his first two seasons and had scored just 145 career points (2.6 ppg.) and grabbed 143 career rebounds (2.5 rpg.). He had not made a start in his first two seasons and averaged just 8.4 minutes per game.
In ’11-’12, Cooley found himself as a mainstay in the Irish starting lineup. He led the Irish in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds. Cooley started 31 of the 33 contests he played and averaged 28.7 minutes per game. He led Notre Dame in shooting percentage as he converted on 158 of his 253 field goal attempts for a 62.5 percent clip. He also topped the team with 52 blocked shots.
Cooley was dominant inside for the Irish as he led the Irish in scoring 11 times and in rebounding on 23 occasions. He finished the BIG EAST regular-season by averaging 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds after netting just 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in conference play as a sophomore. Ten of his team-leading 13 double-doubles came during conference play.
Cooley entered last season having scored in double figures just four times in two seasons. As a junior, he scored in double figures 19 times and topped the 20-plus point mark on six occasions while also grabbing 10 or more rebounds in 15 contests. He netted a career-high 27 points in the regular-season finale against Providence on March 2 and also hauled in 17 rebounds. Cooley grabbed a career-high 18 boards against Rutgers on Feb. 15 in addition to scoring 22 points. In consecutive games against West Virginia, DePaul and Rutgers, he netted 20-plus points in all three of those outings and also had a four-game stretch during the BIG EAST season in which he posted four straight double-doubles.
Cooley was named BIG EAST Player of the Week once during the season and was a member of the league's weekly honor roll five times.
As Notre Dame's starting point guard a year ago, Atkins had a terrific sophomore campaign for the Irish after seeing time as a backup in his rookie season. He was Notre Dame's third leading scorer at 12.1 points per game and was second on the team in assists at 4.1 assists per game. Atkins averaged a team-high 37.9 minutes per game while starting all 33 games he played. He ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in minutes played (38.2) and played 40-plus minutes in 13 games overall during the season.
Named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll once during the season, Atkins reached double figures in 21 contests and three times eclipsed the 20-point mark. He scored a career-high 27 points in the season opener against Mississippi Valley State and dished off a career-high nine assists against Bryant. In the double-overtime victory at Louisville, a game in which he played all 50 minutes, Atkins scored 15 points and grabbed a personal-best eight rebounds.
Notre Dame, which was picked to finish third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll, will begin the season ranked 22nd in the Associated Press and 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today polls.