Loyal Cougars

Next Level: Cougars need polarizing Matt Carlino to make ‘the leap’

As part of our ongoing season preview, Loyal Cougars will profile each member of the 2013-2014 BYU basketball team. These profiles may include statistics, roster breakdowns, off-the-statbook observations, or memories and first-hand experiences. In this installment, Steve Pierce relies on a little help from his friends to map out the path ahead for the ever-polarizing Matt Carlino.

I suppose I should start this post with the following disclosure: I am an ardent Matt Carlino apologist, defender and champion. If you don’t believe me, feel free to reference my Twitter bio, where I have taken the liberty to appoint myself as the president of the (officially nonexistent) Matt Carlino Fan Club.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t see his flaws. I know they are there — I just don’t happen to believe they’re as soul-shatteringly awful as other BYU fans do. On the whole, I believe that Carlino plays a hugely positive and essential role for the Cougars, and I think statistics and reasoned observation bear that out.

However, based on my reading of Twitter, CougarBoard and various other fan sites, it’s obvious that not everyone feels this way. Where I see an ever-improving and preternaturally talented point guard with the ability to set up his teammates and score the ball in equal measure, others see an erratic shooting guard masquerading in a point guard’s body while he selfishly deprives his teammates of scoring opportunities in favor of his own failed heroics.

This dissonance fascinates me. How could so many people differ so wildly on something so simple as a college basketball player? Obviously I believe my interpretation is the correct one, but I am an admitted Carlino Kool-Aid drinker. (I didn’t just have a glass, I drank the whole pitcher.) Perhaps there is something I’m missing? Some statistic I have misinterpreted or some larger flaw that I have yet to fully grasp? Could I be woefully off-base in my admiration for the Cougars’ junior point guard?

In order to ensure that my personal bias wasn’t tinting the totality of this piece, I invited my fellow Loyal Cougars hoops scribes Ben Wagner and Evan Hall — both of whom tend to take a more pragmatic approach to matters of Carlino than I do — to lend their own perspectives and prevent me from wandering too far off into fanboy territory.

The following (exceptionally lengthy) email exchange ensued:

STEVE: So, guys — Matt Carlino. Hero and villain. Point guard savior and selfish ball hog. Heir to the throne of the Ball Wizard and “YOU’RE NOT JIMMER! (clap, clap, clap clap clap).” What say you?

EVAN: I think we should start by talking about the things that Matt Carlino does well, because rarely does any conversation about Matt Carlino begin with the things he does well, and no criticism of Matt Carlino is worthwhile until the things that he does well are properly considered and appreciated. Because the truth is, Matt Carlino is actually really good at certain parts of basketball.

For instance, he is the only player to receive consistent playing time on the BYU roster that could create his own shot. I mean, Haws can in a limited, two- or three-step sort of way, and Davies could last year, in a similarly limited way, but who else could create like Carlino? How many times did you sit there, as the shot clock wound down and Carlino was on the bench, wondering how the crap we were going to get points out of a possession?

At least with Carlino on the floor you felt like there was a safety valve — however volatile — that could bail us out when possessions collapsed. In that way, I guess he’s the antithesis of Brock Zylstra, who only succeeds as a part of the system, and when the system is broken, so is Brock Zylstra. Meanwhile, when the system is broken, Carlino is our only hope.

STEVE: I think you’ve touched on a big part of why Matt Carlino is absolutely essential to BYU’s offense.

Every good basketball team needs at least one player who can create a reasonably good look out of nearly nothing. To be sure, this isn’t always necessarily the ideal outcome of a possession — more often we would prefer for teams to have a system and run plays that result in the right players getting the ball in their hands in spots where they are most likely to score at a high percentage.

Unfortunately, this is the real world and there is a defense out there whose sole goal is to prevent said system from succeeding — and if the abysmal offensive statistics turned in across college basketball last season are to be believed, those defenses are achieving their objective more than ever.

As a result, every good team needs a player who can create a decent look when everything has fallen apart and the shot clock is winding down and somebody has to do something before everything turns into a disaster. Somebody has to be able to work a little magic. Matt Carlino is that guy for BYU — and perhaps one of the team’s bigger shortcomings is that they don’t have more than one of those guys.

No one else can get past an even somewhat competent defender off the bounce, no one else can get into the paint and draw help defenders away from the rim, and even if those first two things miraculously happen, no one else has the awareness to make the split second decision of whether to shoot over or pass out of the collapsing defense with any real consistency. Admittedly, this doesn’t work out every time for Matt either, which is when I believe he draws a lot of unwarranted criticism — “hero ball,” “trying to do too much,” etc. What the critics fail to grasp is that he’s often only trying to do so much because everything has fallen apart and he’s literally the only one who can.

To highlight another of Carlino’s strengths: he’s quietly turned himself into one of the team’s best (if not the best) perimeter defender. And sure, that comes with a caveat. He’s not a lockdown on-ball defender, but BYU doesn’t have one of those anyway so let’s not cry over spilt milk. But where he does excel is off the ball — he has become an absolute terror in the passing lanes, racking up a team-high (by a mile) 64 steals last year.

A lot of that success is due to Matt gaining more experience and learning how to position his body to be prepared to deflect lazy passes at the top of the key, but it’s also a function of a much deeper, more impressive trait. Matt Carlino just plays hard all the time. That type of consistent hustle often results in him having the extra jump he needs to pick off an errant pass and take it the other direction for a layup, taking the momentum of the game with him in the process. So critics can say what they will about Matt, but no one can ever question whether or not he’s giving his all — because he is, and it shows on the court and in the statbook.

BEN: I want to get back to your point about Carlino’s defense at some point, but to go back to this creativity issue — one of the problems around the criticism of Matt’s game is the tight focus on shot selection, which — admittedly — could improve. But some of those deep threes and erratic shots that Matt takes come during broken play scenarios (a concept seemingly too nuanced for some trolls to grasp). But whether those shots come during a broken play or in the first 8 seconds of the shot clock, they’re so glaringly obvious that they become all anyone talks about.

But everyone wants to forget that Carlino is a legitimate point guard. Before he came along in 2011 we were trying to play a combination of Brock Zylstra, Anson Winder, and Craig Cusick as the starting point guard. The Zylstra experiment was clearly a failure, Anson is really more suited to be an off-the-bench defensive stopper, and as much as I loved Craig Cusick (and make no mistake, this program was built on the backs of players like Craig Cusick), he was never a Division I starter.

From the moment he stepped on the court against Baylor in 2011, it was obvious that Carlino had a level of point guard skill that was totally absent from the program. He’s the only BYU player capable of singlehandedly breaking a press (and in fact, the team looked a bit lost during press breaks last year when he was off the court), a skill which netted BYU plenty of buckets a season ago. He’s also far and away the team’s best ball handler — and as you guys mentioned, he’s really the only player capable of creating his own shot off the dribble. (Haws doesn’t create shots as much as take contested ones that somehow always go in.)

Then there’s his passing, which is always overlooked. Matt does have a fairly high turnover rate, but then again he was barely a sophomore last year. Since he sat out the first half of his freshman year, Carlino didn’t really became a sophomore (in terms of game experience) until some time around the New Year, when he picked up his game significantly during conference play. Then there was his post-season performance, when he netted 32 assists in 4 NIT games. Carlino’s passing, combined with his excellent ballhandling and his ability to create turnovers, might make him the best transition player in the WCC this coming season.

STEVE: Before Evan jumps in again, I want to interject briefly on your point about Carlino’s passing. It’s rarely ever mentioned in all the complaining about his alleged “selfishness” and purported inability to be a “pass-first point guard,” but Matt is currently the BYU record-holder for career assists per game and is on pace to shatter the school record for most assists in a career. So contrary to the endless online nattering about his ability to distribute, the facts say that Matt Carlino very well may be the best passing point guard — or player of any position — in the history of Cougar basketball.

He’s BYU’s very own basketball-playing Gustavo Fring: his distribution is unparalleled and irreplaceable. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

BEN: I like my Matt Carlino passes like I like my Los Pollos Hermanos: crispy.

EVAN: I think you’re right, Ben, that Carlino is on a different talent level than the average BYU player, or starter even. In fact, the genius of Coach Rose’s system is that it’s designed to exploit the market inefficiencies as it were in college basketball, while simultaneously maximizing the strengths of the kinds of recruits he gets at BYU.

College basketball teams play lots of junk zone defenses, so Rose’s system encourages threes, which stretch out those zone defenses, and running, which allow for points before those defenses set up. Carlino, though, actually has some degree of NBA-level talent, so he doesn’t need to play within Rose’s exploitative system in order to be successful. Carlino is, in a way no other BYU player has been besides Jimmer, an offense to himself. That’s why his shot selection, which usually lands somewhere between the Jonathan Tavernari and Jimmer Fredette shades of green light, doesn’t really bother me.

It also doesn’t bother me because one of the market inefficiencies that Rose takes advantage of has to do with the number of shots a college team gets up in a game. As you mentioned, Steve, offensive numbers are down all over the country, and regardless of where you fall on the “35-second shot clock” debate, we can all agree that within those 35 seconds, teams are scoring less.

What torments me when I’m watching a college game is the way every team’s offense seems designed to discover and brandish the Platonic Form of the “Good Shot.” You hear it in coach speak all the time: “We just didn’t work for good shots on the offensive end.” Not only is that kind of analysis mind-numbingly simplistic, it disregards the number of possessions that go without any shot at all.

Teams often use 25 seconds of shot clock only to turn it over and not get any shot up. That’s why a Matt Carlino pull-up three with 27 seconds left on the shot clock doesn’t bother me at all. At least he got a shot up. Turnovers kill offenses far more swiftly and thoroughly than missed shots do. So shoot on, Matt, and you’ll be better off than half of the D-I offenses.

Unfortunately, I can’t believe everything I said in the previous paragraph without pointing out that Matt Carlino turns the ball over at a pretty alarming rate. Last season, he played 28.7 minutes a game and turned the ball over almost three times again. Turnovers suck, because in order to shoot, you need the ball. So three times a game, one of our players hands the ball over to the other team without getting a shot up. That’s obviously terrible, and I hate it.

Unfortunately, like his shot selection, turnovers are more noticeable than many of the things he does well — like, as Steve noted, his hawkish off-ball defense. So even though the team probably only loses 2-3 points a game because of Matt Carlino’s turnovers — far fewer points than he contributes, I might add — he ends up bearing the brunt of criticism, purely because any RM bro-fan who played Junior Jazz knows that handing the ball to the other team is a stupid and bad thing to do.

STEVE: I think we can all agree that it’s preferable to have fewer turnovers than more turnovers. That’s a reasonably sound basketball principle. And by extension, it’s equally reasonable for us to want Carlino to continually reduce the number of times he gives the ball away per game. I’m completely on board with all of that.

But if we’re going to look at context (and I’d argue that we should), we need to note how much Matt handles the ball. He has an exceptionally high usage rate and spends more time with the ball in his hands than anyone else. That provides many more opportunities for him to make a mistake — so while 2.7 turnovers per game is more than you’d like to see, it’s really not that many relative to the amount of ball-handling responsibility he has within Rose’s offense. The context matters here, I think.

But is that really all that gets the Carlino haters riled up? Is it just the turnovers? Or is there something deeper, I wonder? Does it have something to do with deep-seated, “traditional” (and, I would argue, antiquated) notions of what a point guard should look like and how he should behave on the floor? What do you think?

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  1. Brett Hein

    October 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Carlino’s performance in the NIT, the Washington game specifically, represents most everything BYU fans want him to be. It just so happens he has the talent to do it — but not every game sets up quite so nicely as that game did. Since he was a sophomore last season, I expect more games like those to emerge. Carlino also began WCC play very well last year.

    But as you said: “If he doesn’t, he’ll continue to be the main culprit for fans’ disappointment — and this time, legitimately so.” In weighing his strengths and weaknesses against his age/experience, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But improvement needs to continue, or many will be even less patient.

  2. Sanpete

    October 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Excellent discussion. Carlino is by far the team’s best point guard based on performance, and it’s silly for fans to think others would be better. He moves the ball down the flow faster than anyone else, whether by pass or dribble. He makes some amazing passes in the half-court, and his aggressiveness in passing is part of what leads to turnovers, but he has significantly improved his assist-to-turnover ratio as he has gained experience.

    There are a couple interrelated things I’d like to know more about. Coach Rose has said things seeming to indirectly suggest Carlino is deficient as a team leader, and at the same time (for reasons best known to him) praised Collinsworth’s leadership and said he intends to play Collinsworth at point. That seems to me to be a major story in this preseason. Is Collinsworth supposed to compete for Carlino’s role on the team? Rose has quelled such concerns to some extent with suggestions that both will play at the same time and share point duties in some natural way, but it would be easy for Carlino to see this as a sign of lack of confidence in his play and leadership. Maybe no one outside the team has any way to address those points.

    • Sanpete

      October 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      flow => floor

    • Steve Pierce

      October 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      This was certainly a cause for concern for me a few months back, and I think you’re right that no one outside the team can truly answer these questions. However, in recent months we’ve seen Rose’s tone shift subtly. He has stopped talking so much about KC as a “point guard” and instead emphasizing how he can be a playmaker from several spots on the floor. I think this probably reflects a growing realization that KC is going to have to play a lot of 3 and 4 to compensate for our lack of depth inside — something that wasn’t guaranteed until we failed to land Aytes or any other post help. That development has probably stemmed the KC-as-point guard wave, but I do think Kyle’s playmaking from the wing positions will help shoulder some of Matt’s load and free him up to score more efficiently. Overall, I think everyone can win here, but we’ll wait and see.

      • Sanpete

        October 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

        Good points all. I look forward to seeing how it all works out.

  3. Greg Rose

    October 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Enjoyed the discussion. Great point about casual fans not recognizing that Carlino often creates the drive and kick that leads to an eventual bucket he gets no direct credit for. His ability to create is essentially. Hopefully this year KC can help shoulder some of that playmaking load which can help increase Carlino’s efficiency.

    • Steve Pierce

      October 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Greg. I totally agree. If KC can bring some playmaking to the 3 and 4 spots, Matt should be freed up to play a bigger scoring role, getting easier buckets in the process.

  4. Fdnman

    October 3, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Nice pro Carlino kool-aid drunkin’ article. I actually don’t disagree with alot of the points. However it does totally disregard or ignore the multiple times Carlino gets totally out of control. It isn’t that he committed a turnover or hucked up a three. It is the way it feels when you know he his going one step faster than his brain and body should be going at the time. It is like the Virginia game with the new GFGH mentality. It just feels a bit frantic and out of control. Pulling back just slightly would be more effective without losing the edge. I think another year of experience will give Carlino what he needs. The ability to slow things down around him while still playing at the same level. Staying in control and lifting up the other players around him at the same time. Hears hoping for a great year.

    • Brett Hein

      October 3, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Like they discussed, he plays hard ALL THE TIME, which is great — except when it isn’t. I agree with this point of yours, Fdnman. If he appeared more under control prior to his early-in-the-clock three, it would be more palatable. It does really feel at times like he’s more than just full-tilt, that he’s lost control.

  5. Adam Mangum

    October 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    One quibble. I don’t agree with a statistical comment made above.

    “..the facts say that Matt Carlino very well may be the best passing point guard — or player of any position — in the history of Cougar basketball.”

    The facts say no such thing. The facts say he’s accumulated assists and is the career leader at BYU in assists per game, and at his current pace, he will be the career assist leader at BYU. But being a great passer and acumulating assists are not entirely correlated. Having great teammates who make shots helps, and the style of offense will determine if assists are put primarily into one players stat line or are spread out more evenly.

    I think he’s a good passer, but not elite. His assist percentage is below average for a point guard (he ranked 97th in the country in assist percentage last season), and his assists per game are nothing spectacular in the modern era.

    As far as BYU history goes, saying he very well may be the best passing point guard in BYU history is extremely debatable. For example, Matt Montague averaged 7.2 APG in 2002 and Nathan Call averaged 6.4 in 1992. Carlino has not averaged close to either figure, even if his career average is the highest in school history. Now, Call and Montague were seniors when those seasons happened, and Carlino very likely may have a great statistical assist season like that in his future. But he doesn’t yet.

    And to say he very well may be the best passer in BYU history is crazy talk — Danny Ainge is laughing in his office in Boston.

    Please keep in mind I am definitely not a Carlino hater. But let’s not twist facts to make the point that he’s good. He’s likely continue to get better. I think the reason so many fans get on Carlino is that they expect him to be an elite point guard, and he’s not that yet. But fan expectations are not his fault — he’s a fine player, and has the talent to become more. We should all be content with that.

    • Brett Hein

      October 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      The hope — mine at least — is that we get more of that Carlino vs Washington. Man, was he dealing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joeHIwpxOo8

    • Steve Pierce

      October 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Adam, I think you make some good points, but I don’t agree with all of them.

      When I said he “very well may be the best passing point guard in BYU history,” I meant that he may end up as the best passing point guard, as statistically measured by assists. Was my wording a little sloppy? Sure. Granted. But I still don’t think that claim (when worded more carefully) is wrong. I’m sympathetic to your lament that assists can’t fully measure a player’s passing ability. You’re right, they don’t — but we simply don’t have another statistical metric that gets anywhere close. It’s the best we’ve got, so we’ll have to roll with it — and Matt is on track to have elite assists numbers when it’s all said and done.

      As far as his assist percentage being “below average” because he ranked 97th nationally — there are currently 351 D-1 schools, meaning there are approximately 4,563 scholarship players in total. In that context, ranking 97th seems well above average. And even if we just look at point guards, 97th out of 351 starting point guards wouldn’t be anything to sneeze at either. So I think that line of argument is disingenuous.

      Regard Montague and Call, you’re right that Matt hasn’t put up the kind of assists numbers that they did at their statistical heights. But he’s been better than them earlier than them and more consistently than them thus far, and I think that’s worth quite a bit. And I have no reason to believe he won’t continue to improve.

      All that said, I think Matt is more than just a “fine” player. He is a very good player with some noticeable flaws that can certainly be improved upon moving forward — as we just spent 5,000 words discussing. I expect him to do so and become even better. But your mileage may vary.

  6. Gayle

    October 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    The situation with Matt Carlino kind of reminds me of when I was on my mission. My companion and I both played the piano, and were in a small branch without many pianists, so we were constantly being asked to play the piano. The issue was that my comp couldn’t read music very well, and played everything by ear in the same key, so if the hymn was a familiar one he played it, and if it was unfamiliar, I was sight reading. Needless to say everyone thought he was such a great pianist, when in reality I was much better than he was.
    Yes Carlino has turnovers, but most point guards do, that is why assist to turnover ratio is really a better statistic than just straight turnovers. Carlino’s A/TO ratio was 1.7 last year, which is the best of any returning player. Ideally you would like for the ratio to be over 2 for a point guard, but I’m not going to fault him for trying to force a few plays which is usually where his turnovers came from (as opposed to dribbling the ball off his foot, or just getting his pocket picked). You have to think if the other players can become more consistent weapons on offense, then there will be fewer reasons to try a force a pass into one or two scorers.

    • Steve Pierce

      October 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Smart take, Gayle. I totally agree. Thanks for reading!

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  8. justin whiting

    October 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Love this discussion about Carlino! Thank you for showing him some love. I live in Bloomington, Indiana and am a pretty die hard fan of both my Hoosiers and the Cougs. I saw him play a couple of times in high school and the kid can play! I once saw him kind of, split two defenders with a spin move around his back at the three point line, then drive to the bucket. It was one of those, what just happened, kind of plays that was awesome.

    Some people get on Matt about moving here in high school then graduating early after decommitting to IU and then jumping ship at UCLA too, when all that tells me is that Matt just wants the chance to play. And him quickly leaving a program at UCLA that appears to be in shambles, says something to me about his character that he chose BYU.

    I think that even the announcers (including a current mission president now in Indiana), were way too critical of Carlino. Sure, he has been very streaky, but he runs the team better than any other guard on the team for sure. Side note: I loved when he and Cusick would play together. Cusick seemed to be a calming influence, on Matt, but Cusick didn’t control the floor like Carlino but he didn’t turn the ball over either.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that Coach Rose would pull Carlino very quickly after any kind of mistake early in games last year? I am just a casual fan without any real basketball knowledge, but it seemed like Coach Rose didn’t let him play though his mistakes an learn from them sometimes. I almost got the feeling that Rose and others were always just kind of waiting for him to make a mistake so that they could “coach him” on the sidelines. I hated having to see Cusick running the team early in the game while Carlino sat on the side.

    Final thoughts, how often have we had someone with the kind of talent that Carlino posses. He committed to the Indiana Hoosiers after his freshman year of high school, for crying out loud! I think he has a chance to do some very special things for two more years here and I love the way he plays. As you mentioned, he has his faults, but he does a lot of things right. He plays hard. Makes some bad decisions. But he has the ability to light it up, like few others on the team. Quit comparing him to Jimmer, people!

    I totally agree that in order for the Cougars to do much of anything this yeat, Carlino has to be the number 2 guy on the team every night. Haws needs him to draw attention and keep defenses honest and I expect nothing but great things from Carlino this year.

    I too, believe in Carlino.

    • Steve Pierce

      October 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      All great points, Justin. I especially agree that Rose was very quick to pull Matt early in games last year. I don’t think that helped him build confidence in his decision-making by working through the mistakes in game situations, and was ultimately harmful and made him unnecessarily tentative at times. I hope it changes this year.

      • David Walton

        October 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm

        My concerns with Carlino have little to do with his athletic ability but more with his attitude. He seems pretty moody and it appears to effect his decision making. I would like to see him play with energy and enthusiasm but be a little more mentally tough. When he makes mistakes they are so blatantly obvious that they are difficult for even the most uninformed fan to ignore.

  9. Steve

    October 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    OK – let’s make a more appropriate comparison. When I watch Kevin Pangos I see someone with less talent than Matt, but who always seems to make good decisions on the court. I also like Matt and think he is the key to this team’s performance. I just feel like the mental part of the game is behind the physical part, which is fantastic. But with experience, hopefully, comes better decision-making. I’m sure the frantic pace as which BYU plays has something to do with this, but that calming influence provided by an experienced playmaker is going to be important to this young team.

  10. SloppyJ30

    December 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I’m joining this discussion a little after-the-fact, but I find myself firmly in the anti-Carlino camp. I think the Utah game just slammed that home for me. Fifteen shots in 20 minutes? Only three of them actually going in? ZERO assists? Yes, it’s one game, but it was a microcosm of what we Carlino haters love to gripe about in a nice bow. No player is truly “consistent,” but his results are all over the map. You can’t tell me you don’t wonder before each game which Carlino will show up, even half by half. However, I would grudgingly agree that there really is no better option right now. As a holdover until the Emery years, he’s our guy.

    I do have something of a problem with the dismissive implication, made several times in this piece, that if you aren’t on the Mattwagon, well, you must not really know basketball and are likely just another lukewarm holdover from the Jimmer years. I call balderdash. I don’t buy that preferring efficient PG play over, yes, “hero ball” is the symptom of poor basketball knowledge. It’s telling to me that at one point Carlino is compared to Brandon Jennings, a player I have little use for and who I predict will never be the starting PG for an NBA contender. But I digress.

    You refer to Matt as “improving.” One-third of the way through his junior year, do you still see improvement? I mean, without jumping through all kinds of mental hoops and grabbing your buddies for a “safety in numbers” crutch? During his freshman year, I thought the guy had an outside chance at a pro career, but that was assuming a reasonable level of improvement. That hasn’t happened. Yes, his assists are up a tick over last year, but it seems he’s plateaued. He’s a 40%, high volume shooter, who sits at a ghastly 28% (!!) on threes this season and 32.5% for his career. When you point out that getting a shot up is better than a turnover, you imply that only two options exist . . a turnover or a lousy shot. That’s a false choice. It’s not a matter of “holding the ball,” which you seem to believe is the dumb fan’s preference – it’s a matter of attempting to run some type of play, even a simple pick and roll, instead of deciding in the backcourt “Yep; time for me to shoot!” and not even considering how the D is positioned, where his teammates are, or the game situation. Right now you’re thinking “Hey, that’s not what he does!” but I would hope that even his fan club members could admit that the guy frequently suffers from tunnel vision.

    I have high hopes for Nick Emery, though it’s all imaginary at this point. I can’t find any reliable data on his career stats, but my impression is that he willingly sacrificed his own scoring to set up talented teammates, taking over when necessary and when desirable to keep defenses honest. I don’t think Carlino processes that way. I picture his mind as a laptop with loose connections, possibly infected by malware which often produces a pop-up that states simply “I AM AWESOME!” at which time the rim should prepare itself for the impact of another ball flung from 25 feet or from some weird angle.

    Snark aside, my eyes tell me Carlino is a very talented dude, certainly more so than Zylstra or Cusick before him. This may seem uncharitable, but if anything his talent makes the results seem even worse. Those guys new their limitations, whereas Matt doesn’t seem to feel like he has ANY limitations. If he’d just take his foot off the gas, say, 10% of the time and at least TRY for the “easy” play, I’d probably be on your side of the debate. Taking a deep three or an off-balance runner early in the shot clock is all fine and well . . if they go in at a reasonable clip. Carlino’s do not. A certain amount of playground swagger and unpredictability can be an asset, but only when they’re based on a sound fundamental core and inherent discipline. I’m not seeing either.

    • Sanpete

      December 16, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Not a good game for Carlino, but why should he be singled out? Hard to get assists when teammates aren’t making their shots either. Haws and Collinsworth only hit 3/11 each, a little better than Carlino’s 3/15, but not enough to be thinking you need to pass more to them. Basically, if you didn’t get a pass in to Mika in that game you weren’t likely to get an assist.

      • SloppyJ30

        December 17, 2013 at 9:19 am

        He should be singled out because that game was one glaring example of a broader trend, that trend being extreme inconsistency. I don’t want to overweight the results of one game, but it’s hard to believe a half-decent PG can’t find ONE opportunity in a game to give a teammate a layup. Yes, they were all awful, so it may be a bit of a chicken and egg argument, but if he was setting guys up with bunnies, they wouldn’t miss ’em all. If he’s as good a creator as his supporters seem to believe he is, you’d think he could use that ability break down the D for an assist or two in place of some of his 15 shots.

        I think a lot of the back and forth can be stripped away by just stating what should be obvious at this point: He’s a lousy shooter. His raw percentages are hideous across the board, and getting worse. Dismissing his shot selection issues by stating “well, no-one else can create a shot,” as this piece does, makes no sense. It’s not really “creating” (creating rebounds doesn’t count) if you dribble around with your head down and end up lobbing up a “shot” that has a 20-25% chance of going in. I’m guessing that’s roughly his percentage if you take away open looks.

        I can live with the turnovers, and he’s admittedly a solid defender. That’s what’s so painful . . he’s clearly capable, he just makes too many indefensible decisions and saddles himself with a degree of difficulty in the process.

        The numbers state he’s the worst, least efficient shooter on the team BY FAR (for example, he’s taken 22% more shots than Tyler Haws and his PPS is 1.04 vs 1.47 for Haws). Those facts are indisputable. If Carlino fans just want to ignore efficiency completely and insist that “creating” misses is an overall plus becase, hey, a miss is better than a turnover, we’ll just have to agree that we understand basketball differently.

        Full disclosure: My POV may be colored by the way I played in HS and the fact that I grew up on Mr. Efficiency, John Stockton. I was the starting 3 for a Utah HS that made it to the state final (losing to Shawn Bradley’s Emery team) playing a slow, methodical style that emphasized efficiency and suffocating halfcourt D. I used to love guarding guys that played a Carlino-like style, because I knew they’d beat themselves half the time. You want to “create” an off-balance three with my hand in your face? It’s all you, buddy.

      • SloppyJ30

        January 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

        . . and now he’s 13-52 on FG’s in his last four games with seven total assists. The good news is that Coach Rose seems to be tiring of the joke as well, as, Matt has only played half the game versus LM and Pepperdine.

        Hey, I don’t root against the guy. I’d love for him to turn it around. I just don’t see any evidence that that’s likely to happen, except in bursts. He’s the most frustrating BYU player I’ve ever watched. Right now he’s just putrid.