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BYU's Carlino flourishing in backup role, earns WCC honors
You gotta be happy for BYU guard Matt Carlino.
First, Carlino lost his starting point guard position 12 games into the season after a miserable performance against Utah. Three games after that, he lost his new starting position, two-guard, and was benched. Since then, the junior has come off the bench, although most games he has played starters' minutes, or close to it.
Against Portland on Saturday, Carlino made 8 3-pointers — just one off Jimmer Fredette's school record — and scored 30 points in the Cougars' 89-72 win.
The performance last week has earned Carlino West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors.<
"I am so happy for Matt and for his confidence and just the way that he has just kinda flourished in this role," coach Dave Rose said. "It is a difficult thing, I know, for him, and he gives us such a lift. He's been really consistent and steady in that, and then tonight he had one of those special games where the basket looks really big and he was able to kind of carry us there for a while when it was really tough around the basket.
I mean, we needed somebody to step up and hit some perimeter shots, because of their size, and their physical presence around the rim makes it really tough to score around the rim."
Carlino still takes a questionable shot or two per game, but most big scorers do. Rose was asked about the one he took and made just before halftime against Portland, when it might have been wiser to run down the clock a bit.
"Well, I think Matt understands that when he is feeling good about his shot, and the ball has been moved around, and it comes back to him, and he's open, that he has the freedom to shoot that shot," Rose said. "I don't really want to get into a situation where guys are looking over their shoulders about shots. They can look over at me about defensive mistakes, and rebounding and hustle issues, but I want them to believe that everybody over there has confidence that they are going to make their shots."
For his part, Carlino has maintained all along that he's happy coming off the bench and likes his new role.
"Yeah, I feel like we are getting better at this point in the year. I think we are all just having fun and just really enjoying playing together. Because we know there is not much basketball left, so it is fun," he said.
How big did the hoop look Saturday night?
"It was pretty big. It was a fun night," he said.
The Cougars head back out on the road again this week, but not until Saturday, when they will play San Diego at 2 p.m. at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Here's my look at that important game and what the Cougars will be doing this week. The Cougars have crawled their way back into NCAA Tournament consideration — ESPN's Joe Lunardi now has them as a No. 11 seed — but they can't afford a loss in the regular-season finale. And San Diego has certainly shown it is capable of beating BYU, having dumped the Cougars twice last year.