Mar 19, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brigham Young guard Matt Carlino during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Carlino had every right to be unhappy with BYU Hoops

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Months have passed by since Matt Carlino announced his intentions to leave BYU and transfer to another program for his last year of eligibility. Carlino landed at Marquette with former Duke assistant coach, Steve Wojciechowski as the new head coach of the Golden Eagles. After news broke that Carlino was leaving for Marquette, we never heard from Carlino as to why he left BYU until yesterday.

The Journal-Sentinel in Milwaukee talked with Carlino about his long journey to Marquette, and discussed some of Matty Basketball’s reasoning for leaving BYU.

Here’s what Carlino had to say about his time with BYU Hoops:

“I had a really good experience at BYU, but I left for a reason, I wasn’t fully happy with the basketball situation. I wanted to give myself a better opportunity for my final year.”

Wasn’t happy with the basketball situation? That instantly raised some eyebrows amongst BYU fans, asking how could he not be happy with the hand he was dealt in Provo? Then shortly after that question was asked, many would just end it with a good riddance.

When I read that quote from Carlino I thought to myself, I agree with him. Matt Carlino had every right to be unhappy with his situation in the BYU Basketball program. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Coach Rose’s kneejerk reaction

Carlino was the starter at point guard throughout the entire non-conference schedule last season. One could debate that the Cougar Cagers out of conference slate last year was the toughest in program history. There were many heartbreaking losses, yet BYU was still a respectable 8-5 team that many viewed as a team who would be in the field of 68 come March.

BYU then dropped a pair of games to unlikely WCC foes on the road in Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Yes, those were terrible losses and Carlino didn’t play well in either game. But the entire squad was exhausted from all of the travel. From November 20th to January 4th, BYU played two games in the Marriott Center. Yeah that’s right, two! The team’ confidence was shook after starting 0-2 in league play. But the perfect remedy was on the way with three straight home games in the Marriott Center to get everyone’s, including Carlino, confidence up. But wait! Coach Dave Rose felt he needed to give the team a spark by making a change to the starting lineup bringing Carlino off the bench, switching Kyle Collinsworth to point guard, and Skyler Halford to shooting guard.

My instant reaction at the time was why, and where would this teams record be in non-conference with those two starting? Let’s just say it wouldn’t have been 8-5, probably much worse, and less competitive of a team to boot.

As we all know, BYU went 3-0 in those home games against sub-par WCC teams. Coach Rose and staff fell in love with Halfords’s 28-point game against a San Diego team that mind you, was a 16-point underdog to a BYU team that was on a four-game skid, and the rest was pretty much history for Carlino as the starting point guard at BYU.

Did anyone honestly think Skyler Halford was going to continue that level of production, especially against better teams? I personally thought it was going to be a one-game benching for Carlino to humble him, and get him re-focused. Instead, Rose continued to think the teams best point guard was better off on the bench to start a game. Didn’t make sense; and the nonsensical approach was busted when BYU went on the road.

Look at the San Francisco and Santa Clara games. Two road games that BYU won, and in large part due to who? Matt Carlino.

There were games where Carlino didn’t play well. We all know that. He’s a streaky player; you grow to accept that with him. The leash was simply too short with Carlino this past season. The way Rose handled Carlino reminded me a lot of how Jimmer was mishandled during his time in Sacramento with the Kings. Too short of a leash for a player that needs the rock in his hands to find his rhythm and get in a groove.   We all know about the #FREEJIMMER movement, but the #FREECARLINO one couldn’t get traction for some reason.

At the end of the day, it was a poor decision by Rose to bench Carlino. That one decision to roll with Halford is going to cost this upcoming 2014-15 team dearly if Kyle Collinsworth isn’t 100% healthy to start the year. Many believe that Frank Bartley IV is going to switch over to the point to give BYU the best five players on the court. Well, the best five thought is nice in theory but the best lineup still consisted of the point guard that’ll be in Milwaukee this winter.

Carlino was the BYU fan scapegoat

Carlino’s first game as a BYU Cougar came against #6 Baylor in front of a sold-out Marriott Center crowd. In his debut, Carlino scored 18 points in only 24 minutes, making Cougar fans think the next Jimmer might not be far away.

That’s the problem right there. The measuring stick was Jimmer. I know, Sports Illustrated even made the comparison by saying, JIMMER WHO? But it was too much for the kid.

See, everyone thought because Carlino was lights-out against a top-10 team in Baylor, he should never have any struggles with teams in the West Coast Conference. People just naturally ran to their own conclusions of what Carlino should become at BYU. That’s the fun of being a fan, but those hopes and dreams can cause unrealistic expectations at times. If there was any drop-off from that debut performance against Perry Jones and Baylor, people were displeased. Yes, the ill-advised threes and the turnovers were problematic but the moxie and the swagger Carlino brought to the floor when he was clicking on all cylinders was a sight to see.

Conclusion

Time will tell on how the Matt Carlino story plays out at Marquette. I’ve heard the discussion that many feel BYU is better off without Carlino this season because he was a distraction off the court.  We will see.  It’ll be interesting to see how BYU Basketball fares in the early part of the schedule this upcoming season.   If K.C. isn’t 100%, and with no Jamal Aytes until December, BYU hoops could get off to a bad record with a tough schedule that includes a trip to the Maui Invitational.

What are your feelings on Matt Carlino’s comments about being unhappy with the basketball situation at BYU? Sound off or tweet us @LawlessRepublic.

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