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April 11, 2012

MVP Martin ‘hopeful' on return

Scott Martin stood on the Purcell Pavilion floor Wednesday night thinking of material for next year. If the fifth-year senior returns, Martin won't be able to escape the Notre Dame's awards ceremony without a speech, especially if he wins a second MVP award.

"Hopefully I'll get to do that next year," Martin said. "We're definitely hopeful."

As much as the awards ceremony capped Notre Dame's surprisingly successful season that included an upset of No. 1 Syracuse and an NCAA tournament bid, the Irish couldn't use it to look ahead, at least not with a clear view. Martin and Tim Abromaitis remain in the protracted process of applying for sixth-years of eligibility.

Mike Brey has been expecting word for weeks on Martin, although Abromaitis' paperwork has not fully been submitted to the NCAA. Brey expects that to be done in the next 48 hours.

The Irish head coach hopes for final word on Martin and potentially Abromaitis within the next 10 days.

If both return it would give the Irish two MVP candidates on a team that welcomes the nation's No. 28 overall prospect in Cam Biedscheid along with four-star big Zach Auguste and Austin Burgett.

"I haven't thought much about the young guys because I want to know what's going on … which one of my old guys is coming back," Brey said. "I would hope end of next week. If we get the right answer, I don't care if they take another month, six weeks.

"Obviously, the vibe we have gotten is we have a great case with (Martin). With Abro is different."

Martin suffered a season-ending ACL tear two years ago paired with helping his father through eye cancer treatments during his transfer year from Purdue a season prior. With Abromaitis the situation appears less optimistic for a sixth-year considering his season-ending ACL injury in November was not paired with any other injury or hardship.

Brey hopes Abromaitis' classroom success will help his cause. The graduate student has won three-straight Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year awards, making him the award's only three-time recipient.

Abromaitis won the Rockne Student-Athlete award and the Captains' Award on Wednesday. Eric Atkins was named Playmaker of the Year, Jerian Grant won Newcomer of the Year, Jack Cooley was named Most Improved and Martin was named Defensive Player of the Year.

"I hope they would really look at that with Abro," Brey said. "He kind of has been robbed of his career a little bit. We'll pursue that one hard too when we get that paperwork in."

Even if Martin and Abromaitis return, the Irish will open two scholarships minus Alex Dragicevich and Mike Broghammer. Broghammer's career ended due to chronic knee pain, while Dragicevich transferred seeking more minutes. Brey said the sophomore has already visited Northwestern and Loyola in Chicago, with Boston College an upcoming stop.

Brey said freshman Eric Katenda, who was blinded in one eye in a pickup game last year, will be reevaluated this summer. Brey was optimistic the forward could contribute.

"It was a fun group to be around, it was a great story," Brey said. "But I like the story pending with expectations. I like that challenge in how we come back."

Who Brey comes back with should be clear by the end of next week.

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