Senior Forward Scott MartinThe team's vocal leader, on and off the court…Undervalued nationally as a position defender, team defender, and weak side defensive rebounder…When he's on his game, Irish are tough to defend as most 4s (power forwards) can't chase him from 20-feet and in…Grabbed at least six boards 10 Big East games including back-to-back career best (12 and 13) in wins over Louisville and South Florida – tonight's foe – in early January… A streaky shooter, Martin hit 54 of 95 shots in 10 Big East games this season; just 17 of 71 in eight others.
Since the Streak/Of Late: Posted conference season highs in field goals (9) attempts (15) and points (18) in a late February loss to St. John's at Madison Square Garden…Hit 13 of his last 33 shots from beyond the arc after a horrendous mid-season slump (described below)…Scored 53 points over the last four games, his highest-scoring four-game stretch of the season…Missed two or fewer minutes of court time in 11 league games, playing all 40 minutes in six (including four straight) and played 92 of a potential 95 minutes in two overtime wins
At his best: When he's working the baseline for mid-range jumpers, posting for short turnarounds from the corners and near the lane, and as a shot-clock beater from the key-extended in the team's Burn attack…Easily leads the team in charges taken, and the vast majority are within five feet of the bucket…Adept at limiting both small forwards and power forwards thanks to extensive film study, position defense, and the ability to deny post entries…A solid finisher at the rim, though his 38-inch vertical has likely decreased since collegiate knee and back injuries in South Bend.
Can struggle when… He hunts his shot from long range too early in games. Martin missed 18 straight three-point shots at one point this season and 26 of 27 – he's a much better shooter than that but it took awhile for the senior to understand neither he nor the Irish offense can thrive when the bulk of his offerings are from long range…Connected on a three-pointer in just two of the team's last seven games…Did not attempt a free throw in nine conference contests and shot two or fewer in five others… Inexplicably just an average free throw shooter despite beautiful form and release, though Martin connected on 12 of his final 14 from the charity stripe to conclude the regular season at above 71 percent.
Junior Center Jack CooleyNamed the Big East's Most Improved Player and was a second team all-conference selection…Hit for double-digit points in 12 of 18 league games and ripped down at least 10 boards in 11 conference contests including two huge efforts with an 18-rebound game in a win over Rutgers and a 17-board effort in the season finale vs. Providence…Averaged 11.3 rebounds in 13 league wins vs. 7.2 boards in five conference losses including an inexplicable 0 rebounds in a recent road loss to Georgetown (Cooley rebounded from that no-show with a 27-point, 18-rebound tour de force in the aforementioned win over the Friars.)…Played more than 30 minutes in 12 of 18 Big East games, a feat not deemed possible by head coach Mike Brey prior to the season…Was able to play 85 of a possible 90 minutes in overtime road wins vs. Louisville and Villanova.
Since the Streak/Of Late: Finished the season with the best game of his career, an effort that followed his worst of the season at Georgetown…Averaged 15.7 points during the team's nine-game winning streak and played 33 or more minutes in seven of the nine victories…One of the two Irish players to show up in a Madison Square Garden loss to St. John's near the end of February, scoring 18 points on nine attempts and grabbing a game-high 11 boards…Shot a team-high 88 free throws in league play, connecting a 68 percent clip…Blocked 31 shots in 18 league games (4th in the conference)…Committed just four turnovers in his last five games and committed two or fewer in 15 of 18 Big East contests despite facing double teams and aggressive defenders throughout the season.
At his best: Cooley, and the Irish, generally fare well when the big man is involved on the boards early. He tends to post and re-post stronger after early success and his teammates make a point to play from the inside-out rather than settle for perimeter passes if Cooley shows early aggression…Adept at keeping rebounds alive for the undersized Irish by getting his hands on boards out of his reach…Ranked as the Big East's best offensive rebounder, proving invaluable for squad that features no one else over 6'7" in its rotation…Can finish with both hands near the rim and has a nice mid-range set shot in his arsenal…Protects the ball well vs. players his own size, an underrated skill set when the Irish turn to their "Burn" offense.
Can struggle when… It seems obvious, but when he's passive, as an emotional, engaged Cooley is far tougher to handle for 35 minutes than any other center in the conference. Cooley attempted seven shots or fewer in seven games; he averaged just over 8 points in those contests but more troubling, grabbed fewer than eight boards in five of them.