PROVO — It was announced on Tuesday that BYU basketball point guard, Matt Carlino, would not be returning to the school for his last year of eligibility and would seek to transfer.
Under NCAA rules, Carlino will be able to play immediately at his new school because he will graduate from BYU in June. His transfer ends an up and down basketball career as a Cougar in which Carlino was often electric, frequently erratic and never quite able to live up to the lofty standards left by his predecessor, Jimmer Fredette. Here are four reasons why the BYU basketball program might be better without him.
More playing time for Anson Winder
With the team playing stagnantly and Carlino playing poorly as the starting point guard, Coach Dave Rose decided to shuffle his rotation and gave different players an opportunity to showcase their abilities. One of the players that significantly benefitted from the change was Anson Winder.
In his first two-and-a-half years as a Cougar, Winder was used sparingly. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, he struggled to crack the rotation and rarely played meaningful minutes. When given his opportunity for more consistent playing time, Winder answered. In the ten games Winder played at least 24 minutes, he averaged 12.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2 assists per game.
Perhaps more important, however, is how efficiently Winder reached those numbers. In the ten contests, Winder shot an impressive 56.5 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free-throw line while only committing one turnover a game. Although Carlino could be explosive, he was often very careless with the ball and his quality and quantity of shots have been the source of frequent criticism from BYU fans. Given more minutes, Winder’s efficiency and focus on ball security can be a huge benefit to the Cougars while also taking fewer shots away from scoring machine Tyler Haws.
Less hero ball
One of Carlino’s main assets is his competitive drive. He plays hard and wants to win. However, this same drive was one of his biggest enemies. There were many occasions throughout Carlino’s career where it looked like he forgot he had four teammates on the floor and tried to face the opponent single-handedly.
Carlino’s tendency to try to take over the game and play "hero ball" was particularly seen in games where the Cougars were trailing or the game was going down to the wire. In many of these instances, Carlino would recklessly drive to the basket and put up wild shots that had little chance of going in. Or he would take a deep three pointer while fading away rather than running the offense and setting up a better shot. In either case, while basketball is a team sport, it is arguable that Carlino hurt his team in many big situations and it does not seem to be a coincidence that the Cougars lost many close games this season and in Carlino’s other two seasons.
Scholarship freed up
As KSL’s Greg Wrubell notes, prior to Carlino’s decision to transfer, the Cougars had 14 players projected to be on next season’s roster with only 13 scholarships available. With Carlino’s exit, the entire team can be on scholarship and focused on studies and basketball.
Perhaps more importantly, it is almost inevitable that some friction will exist between players on scholarship and walk-ons. Whether real or imagined, players on scholarship are perceived to be entitled and receive preferential treatment and easier access to playing time. With all players (at least theoretically) being in equal circumstances, this point of friction does not exist and the hope is all players will be more content.
A potential cancer?
For his part, Carlino lived without any off-the-court drama as a Cougar. He was also generally positive in his interactions with media members, though he did publicize his dissatisfaction with one of Rose’s decisions to experiment with him as a shooting guard. However, given Carlino's intensity and competitive drive, it was unlikely that he was thrilled with being relegated to the sixth man role after starting for much of his first two seasons.
While Carlino played sporadically in this role, it's plausible that he is seeking a transfer to another school where he can be ‘the man.’ Had he stayed at BYU, his dissatisfaction with his role may have seeped into his play and his interactions with his teammates and coaches. This may have been particularly troubling since he would have been a senior who would be called upon for leadership.
Whether the Cougars will be a better team next year without Carlino is yet to be seen and is probably not measurable. After two transfers, hopefully he will find a spot where he will thrive.
Dylan Cannon is a regular KSL.com contributor and can be reached by email at email@example.com or via twitter @DylanCannon11.