BYU coach Dave Rose spent the first 10 games of this season experimenting with point guards to replace Jimmer Fredette. So when Matt Carlino, a freshman who transferred from UCLA in late 2010, finally became eligible, for the Cougars' Dec. 17 game against No. 6 Baylor, he wasted little time in making his case. In his first maningful game in 21 months, Carlino scored 15 second-half points in an 86--83 loss and was trusted to take key shots down the stretch.
The latest high-impact UCLA castoff (below), Carlino left Westwood after a term spent sidelined by a concussion and unhappy with a shift to shooting guard. Rose, lacking an heir to Fredette, approved the rare in-season addition. "In the situation we were in," he says, "we were very fortunate to get him." Carlino then spent a semester learning offensive wizardry by facing Fredette in practice ("You pick up stuff just by being amazed," he says) and, as the scout team's point guard, mimicking upcoming opponents. "It was really fun," he says, "acting like you're a different player."
On Dec. 20, Carlino had 11 assists, 10 points and seven rebounds against Buffalo. Rose admits the addition of an explosive scorer at point guard risks disrupting the inside-out attack the Cougars run through their veteran forwards, and more opportunities for Carlino leave fewer for others. "You don't just add an extra 10, 12, 15 shots a game and everything else stays the same," Rose says.
Surely, Carlino's 15.0 points per game have helped him win acceptance, and they may well help the Cougars become an NCAA tournament sleeper.