BYU sophomore guard Matt Carlino (US Presswire)Though no one expected him to be another Jimmer Fredette, BYU freshman point guard Matt Carlino in the last week has filled a void left when last season's National Player of the Year graduated and moved on to the NBA ranks.
The UCLA transfer became eligible for the Cougars in time for last Saturday's highly-anticipated home date against Baylor, giving coach Dave Rose a scoring-minded point guard who can fill up the stat sheet in several ways. BYU has a healthy amount of talent around Carlino, but he could be the final piece that helps tie it all together.
In the narrow 86-83 loss to Baylor, Carlino scored 18 points and hit four 3-pointers, but also committed four turnovers, including a crucial giveaway in the game's final minute with BYU trailing by just a point. Then, in a 93-78 victory over Buffalo on Wednesday night, he scored 10 points, gave out 11 assists and almost rounded out a triple-double, finishing with seven rebounds in his first collegiate start.
Carlino's presence on the floor is coming at just the right time for BYU, who now has the look of a team that could dominate in its first year as a West Coast Conference member. League play starts on Dec. 29 with a marquee showdown on the road with perennial WCC power Saint Mary's.
On Thursday, The Dagger caught up with Carlino just as the real fun is beginning for him at BYU.
The Dagger: The three schools you looked at the closest after deciding to transfer were BYU, UNLV and Butler. What was it that ultimately led you to BYU? How much did seeing what Jimmer Fredette was doing and maybe picturing yourself in that role have to do with your final decision?
Matt Carlino: It had a lot to do with it, watching Jimmer and just the whole team last year. Coach Rose had a ton to do with it because of how he lets people plays and how good of a coach I think he is. Now that I've had a chance to play for him, I know even more how good of a coach he is. In the recruiting process, you just have to listen to what they have to say. Jimmer had a lot to do with it. Coach Rose had a ton to do with it. It's just been a good fit for me.
TD: You had a year to sit out and not play as a redshirt after not getting to play much at UCLA. Looking back on what you did over the last year, what was the key to making sure you were this ready to play and contribute right away starting last Saturday? How do you keep your game sharp?
MC: Just working hard and trying to take everything I could get from everyone — like Jimmer, when I had to play against him. At UCLA, I had to guard Malcolm Lee, who was also drafted this year. I was playing against two NBA draft picks last year every day in practice, so just learning from guys like that, learning from the coaches, and especially just learning from coach Rose and what he wants. It was big for me, because it gave me a year to just get prepared instead of just being from high school and going.
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