So much is happening right now in BYU basketball and football, we had to make two posts this week. This one is all basketball. Click here to get the whole football post for this week.
Much has been made about Matt Carlino this season. Since his outburst at Utah, he is averaging 11.75 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 3.75 rebounds per game (8 games). In two conference games, he is averaging 21.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.5 steals, and 6 rebounds per game. Shooting is better as well. Is this a sign that Carlino is improving or just a flash in the pan? And are you okay with Carlino’s progress this season?
Carl: He’s improving; there is no doubt in my mind about that. His in-game awareness is coming to him and he’ll get better against the lesser teams in the WCC. We’ll see just how much he’s improved when BYU faces the cream of the WCC. At this point, I’m not expecting masterful performances against Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s.
Matt: I’m withholding consideration until I have a larger sample size. Two games, plus one about eight games ago, do not help me see change. It makes me see aberration only. It is a good sign that he did it two games in a row and with Pepperdine in town Thursday night, he should make it three. The test will be to have that fourth game in a row when the team travels to Santa Clara to take on the surprising 12-4 Broncos. Can he be that third cog in the BYU machine to support Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws; relieving some of the pressure from their shoulders and leading the Cougars to a win? I don’t know. I do like how head coach Dave Rose has handled him though. Benching him, even temporarily, awakened him, not unlike what Tyrone Corbin of the Utah Jazz has done with Gordon Hayward.
Scott: I am pro-Carlino, but I think right now, it looks like a flash in the pan. We just have not seen it consistently from him enough to think it more than that. He’s progressing, but I’d like to see better shot selection from him. He seems to be more effective driving to the hoop and getting an easier two points than he is when he’s shooting three-pointers.
Speaking of Carlino, it seems BYU is 5-0 when Carlino scores 20 points or better in the game. Does that mean we need to see more Carlino?
Carl: No. Wait, NO! 20+ points from Carlino does not a win make. It’s more of a product that he can dominate a lesser opponent or breakdown certain defenses better than others. Some games he’s not going to be able to score and he shouldn’t feel pressured to do so. Some games will require eight points from Carlino, but more importantly will require nine assists and only two turnovers to accompany the points.
Matt: The easy (and totally obvious) answer is YES! The Jimmer-led team still had Davies and Jackson Emery to make a “big 3.” And you saw what happened when one of the three was cast out – the team couldn’t win like it had. Adding Carlino as the third piece to this team that is so close to the edge and could tip either way, is exactly what this team needs. If that means that Davies or Haws doesn’t keep as high a scoring average, then so be it. But, and this is a big BUT, he can’t score 20 or more by jacking a bunch of shots. If he can’t get there on 15 or fewer shots, then he shouldn’t be shooting that night anyway. 8-15 shooting, 3-5 3FG?, and 3-6 FTA is a good shooting line for Carlino. At those numbers, he is averaging his nearly 5 assists and rebounds plus nearly 2 steals and fewer turnovers. That is what he should play for every night.
Scott: I think we’re seeing plenty of Carlino, but he needs to shoot more consistently. He is a very streaky shooter, and sometimes he’s got it, but sometimes he just doesn’t. He needs to be driving to the hoop and getting some high-percentage buckets and be more selective on his three-pointers. I’m happy with his defense and ball control. Sure, he gets reckless with the ball from time-to-time, but what PG in a high-pace offense doesn’t.
BYU had a couple of easy landing spots to start conference play, but games against Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga loom over the next five games. What adjustments must BYU make in order to compete with these three teams?
Carl: The shooting percentage must come up, especially from long range. BYU has long been a team that lives and dies by the 3. We’re going to ‘die’ our way out of March Madness if we don’t get it corrected. Keeping shooting guys, it’s the only way to break the stinky funk you’re in. If they start shooting a decent percentage, it’s going to make BYU much stronger for conference play.
Matt: I think that with SC and SM that nothing more than physical play and ball-control will be necessary to get the wins. Two of the three are road games so keeping the crowd out of it will be key. Gonzaga is the tough one. I don’t really expect BYU to win that game in Spokane, but they need to force their branch of basketball (while being careful since Davies can’t get a fair call with WCC refs on the floor) and they need to shoot well.
Scott: I honestly think this BYU team has turned a corner, and things seem like they are starting to click. I like what I am seeing out of Josh Sharp. He’s getting a lot of rebounds and isn’t skimping on the effort. That said, BYU needs to shoot the ball more consistently. We can’t afford to have slumps against the best teams in the conference. That killed us last year, and it will do it again this year.
Even though the last two ball games were wins, they were against the bottom of the West Coast Conference. What is Brandon Davies doing wrong when his line goes from 12 pts, 9 reb 1 foul in 30 minutes against Loyola Marymount to 6 pts, 2 reb 5 fouls in 17 minutes against USF?
Carl: I’m hoping for other the other guys to help me out with this. It just seems he imposes his physical play to the limit every game. He’s so close to getting fouls called on him every time down the floor. Blame it on his over-aggressive play, blame it on quick whistles, blame it on flopping, it doesn’t matter. Davies must figure out in each game how the game will be played down low. He must learn to keep himself in the game rather than choosing to take himself out.
Matt: I just said it, but he has to be careful. Davies is very much a rhythm player. He needs to get going early and regularly. When the team stops giving him the ball (and why would they ever intentionally go away from the best big man in the league) and start bombing threes, Davies checks out. But more troublesome is that he is a physical player and BYU likes to play that style. Unfortunately, the WCC refs like wussy-ball and call every shoulder drop and elbow swing like they want to slap a flagrant foul of the offender. Davies gets in easier foul trouble in league play and don’t kid yourselves if you think the opposing coaches don’t know that. They’ll game plan to force him to play physically and then hope the refs take Davies out of the game for them. When he heads to the bench early, he rarely is effective the rest of the game.
Scott: I don’t really notice anything different. I hate be the “blame the refs” guy, but different refs call different games differently. If anything, Davies needs to be aware of the tendencies of each ref, and he needs to quickly adjust to how a game is being called. We’ll need him against Gonzaga, so he’s got to stay out of foul trouble.