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July 19, 2010
"I'm all right! I'm all right!" insisted Scott Martin.
He had gotten to his feet by himself, and then walked to the locker room.
He had convinced himself that he was all right.
But getting up off the floor and walking to the locker room proved little. When long-time Irish assistant athletic trainer Skip Meyer inspected the left knee of the 6-foot-8 Purdue transfer, there wasn't much doubt.
"(Meyer) did the test and I failed that miserably," smiled Martin, a Valparaiso, Ind., native. "They drop the knee and then they kind of hold it. If you can push it forward, that means you have no ACL.
"He did it and I saw it jump way up, and I just went, 'You don't know for sure!' Skip said, 'We'll get an MRI, but I'm pretty sure,' and I said, 'I'm not!' So I went the whole night refusing to believe that I really hurt it. I thought I just tweaked it."
The "tweak" was a torn left ACL, which meant that Martin would miss his second straight season after sitting out the 2008-09 campaign upon transferring from Purdue, where he averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds during his freshman season in West Lafayette, Ind.
"It happened the first day of practice, the first time we went live," Martin said. "I ripped through, one dribble to the left, I stopped and I just went down."
Martin is about nine months removed from suffering the injury, which is a relatively short recovery from a torn ACL. But he says he's fine and ready to go.
"It definitely took a couple of months, but recently I've really felt good," Martin said. "When I got out there and I could dunk on a fast break and catch a lob, I'm like, 'All right, I can jump now and I can land.' The landing is the most important thing. I've gotten confidence in it.
"When you start to run on it and you're out there playing, you forget that you're hurt. Then you do something before you should do it and it holds up, and you think, 'If I can do that?' You just have to take it and build upon it from there."
Martin will test that knee in a couple of weeks for a team of college players traveling to Geneva, Switzerland and Paris, France, where the squad will play five games in about a span of a week.
"(Guards) Jacob Pullins from Kansas State is playing, Louis Jackson from Purdue is playing," Martin said. "There are some guys from Syracuse, some guys from West Virginia?We should have a pretty good team."
Martin reports Aug. 5, practices with his new teammates for a couple of days, and then begins play with three days in Geneva and four days in Paris.
"I'm interested to play European style," Martin said. "It will be different. You can use that extra step, that extra hop. Goaltending?they let you pull the ball off the rim. I've got to go over the rules. I can read about it on the flight."
Martin has been thinking about game competition ever since suffering the knee injury.
"From the day I got hurt, I was pushing to do something this summer," Martin said. "Coach (Mike Brey) had a plan for me the whole time. We looked at some summer league stuff, but we felt this was the best way to go. It gives me some game experience and there will be some good teams over there. It should be fun."
Martin has been working out with teammates and participating in pick-up game opportunities ever since he's been cleared. But nothing recreates the reality of a game quite like a game itself.
"The key word was game," Martin said. "I need to play a game. We wanted to find somewhere that I could play games. This came about and it looks like it's going to work out really well."
With his last actual game coming more than two years ago, Martin is eager to get started.
"It was rough at first," said Martin of the two-year layoff. "At least with the first year I could practice. I was still able to get my basketball fix; I was still able to play. The second year was definitely the worst. There was a lot of watching, a lot of sitting around saying, 'If I was out there! If I was out there!'"
Purdue fans never saw and Irish fans have never seen the real Scott Martin.
"When I was at Purdue, I don't feel like I played like I play," said Martin of his rookie season in 2007-08. "I don't really feel like I had a Scott Martin-like game. Ever.
"Here, obviously I haven't played yet. So I feel like I've got two years to go at it and help us to try to win games. I want to win. That's all that I'm concerned with."