Scott Martin's return to Notre Dame remains foggy

Notre Dame certainly needs Scott Martin if it's to win come tourney time. (USATSI)

There's no timetable for Scott Martin to return to the Notre Dame lineup and it's not even certain when or if he will be able to return for the Irish.

The captain of the Irish squad has battled knee injuries and has been tyring to play through recurring pain. He practiced a couple of days last week and said he might have been available in an emergency situation over the weekend, but the definition of an emergency might have been something comparable to the five-overtime stint against Louisville earlier this month.

This isn't the way Martin wanted to end his career. Remember, he began his college days with Robbie Hummel at Purdue in 2007-08. The 6-foot-8 forward opted to transfer, sat out and then tore his ACL in the preseason and missed all of his junior campaign.

Martin has been solid over the past two seasons in South Bend, averaging just under 10 points per game and about five rebounds. The NCAA granted him a sixth season, and he was taking advantage, shooting with far more efficiency from beyond the arc than he had his entire career.

However, then his knee -- the same one he injured back in 2009 -- began bothering him. He said it was scar tissue that had built up over the years. Combined with patella tendinitis, it's been too much for him to handle.

His knee started to bother him more early in the Big East slate and didn't subside. He felt he was hurting the team, so he decided to shut it down nearly a month ago and rest in hopes of returning to to the court.

But Martin isn't sure whether he'll be back. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey recently told me he thought it was 50-50 whether Martin would be able to return. Martin has good days and bad ones. He said it's easier to deal with because of the team's success (the Irish are 7-2 since he went out) and also the success of those filling in for him -- notably big man Tom Knight

"I'm definitely optimistic," Martin told me on Sunday night.

Martin's senior night comes Tuesday and he's hopeful, but he truly has no idea how his knee will respond. The Irish could certainly use his experience and ability to stretch the defense, but he also realizes that guys like Knight, Garrick Sherman and freshman Zach Auguste have more than held their own in his absence.

"It definitely makes it easier with us playing so well," Martin said. "I don't feel like I'm letting anyone down, but this has still been hard. No one wants to end their career physically being unable to do it.

"I'm trying to get as healthy as I can as fast as I can," he added. "I don't have time for surgery. Rest is really the only thing that will help." 

The sad part, though, is that time is running out for Martin.

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