NAIA
NAIA
Men's Basketball - Thu, Mar. 30, 2017
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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – Mike Martin (SR/Flint, Mich.) played in the shadows for much of the season, but he stepped into the limelight at the NAIA Division II National Championship.

In this installment of our national championship recap, we will look at the play of the senior from Flint, Mich., as he earned the Hustle Award at the national tournament.

Martin proved himself a valuable member of the Bulldogs (35-3 overall) long before national tournament. After all, he started all 23 of the games he played in this season and finished the year averaging 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Yet, his play appeared to go to the next level on the national stage.

"I have a lot of really good teammates, so I really don't have to score as much usually," Martin said after he was named to the All-Tournament Team and awarded the Hustle Award. "So, when the opportunity presented itself, my teammates told me to keep doing what you're doing. I just got into a groove and took it from there."

During the first two games, Martin had good but modest games for the Bulldogs. He scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds in the 95-83 win over Aquinas (Mich.) and followed that with eight points and four rebounds in the 83-82, heart-pounding win over College of Idaho.

Then, Martin turned things up a notch in the quarterfinal round as he hit 7-of-8 shots in scoring 14 points in the 98-60 victory over Trinity International (Ill.). This marked the first time in seven games he scored in double figures.

Martin followed that performance with arguably his best of the year, scoring a season-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds in the 92-80 semifinal win over Indiana Wesleyan. He sank 8-of-14 shots from the floor, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. This was the only game all season Martin led the team in scoring.

In the championship game, he netted 17 points and hauled in five rebounds as Union capped off the magical run with a 72-69 win over Cornerstone (Mich.).

For the tournament, Martin averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while also coming up with nine steals and two blocks.

"He was okay our first three games here, but man he was impactful these last couple games," head coach Kevin Burton said following the championship game. "I thought the 'Hustle Award' was spot on because he covers so much ground and plays 100 percent all the time. I'm happy for him."

Martin finished the season as one of the top shooters on the Bulldogs, making 57.7 percent of his shots. Always a team player, he deflected any credit on teammate and point guard Tyrone Sherman (SR/Chicago Heights, Ill.) on getting him the ball in the right spots.

"Tyrone does a good job at finding everybody," the forward added. "So, if you get into the right place, he's going to find you and you just got to make sure you're going to convert on it."

Martin definitely converted on his big shot.