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The Carlino Conundrum: What his departure means for the Cougars

Matt Carlino's announced transfer from BYU came as big surprise to BYU fans. It now has Cougar loyal divided on what he meant to the program and what his departure means going forward.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It's funny watching the fan fallout on comment boards in the aftermath of the announcement that Matt Carlino will be graduating and transferring to another school for his senior season because the results could not be more varied. On one extreme, people are lamenting the loss of Carlino and saying that it is a comment on the state of a program in drastic decline and Dave Rose needs to get his act together; if not an overhaul of the coaching staff should be on the way. On the other extreme, people are saying good riddance it's a good thing that BYU is getting rid of him because he is not good enough for the program in the first place. So let's try to answer some questions about the Carlino Conundrum:


The fact is, Carlino has been afforded multiple opportunities at BYU from his first game against #6 Baylor to his last against Oregon. He rose to the occasion as a sixth man coming off the bench and very possibly elevated the play of the entire team in doing so. His best scoring season came as a junior, averaging 13.7 points per game. Carlino has placed his name in the BYU record books: 7th all-time assists at 427, 6th all-time steals at 161, and 2nd all-time steals per game average at 1.68. I takes some coaching to be able to accomplish that in two-and-a-half seasons.

A program that is in a tailspin is one that is losing multiple players to transfer; take, for example the University of Utah several years ago or Utah State University, who has already lost four players to transfer, this year. It is either unfair or uneducated to say that the basketball program at BYU is in shambles simply because Carlino is transferring. If other players start to leave the program then we may have a different story, but since they aren't and nationally sought after recruits are still coming to BYU, the only logical conclusion here is that the program is actually healthy and robust, albeit in a disappointing season.


Ever heard the phrase, "Don't let your highs get to high and your lows get to low?" Matt Carlino exemplified that phrase. Part of the reason he is so polarizing for fans is that we have all seen how high his potential is. He didn't have just one or two lucky games in his two-and-a-half seasons as a Cougar. He has had multiple games that impressed us with his ability to shoot, drive, pass, and play defense. Unfortunately, he also had multiple games in which he shot the team right out of the game from the three-point line, missed layups, and gave up too many turnovers trying to sneak a ball past defenders. Are you a Carlino half-empty or Carlino half-full kind of a fan?

Of course an argument can be made for Carlino being a hindrance to the program, and that argument is helped by the fact that he lost his starting position for just over half the season. However, coming off the bench Carlino still found ways to contribute. It's hard to say that he rode the bench when his minutes only declined from 29 minutes per game to 26 minutes per game. The fact is, he was still getting his time. Moreover, he became more efficient with the ball as he decreased his turnovers per game from 2.8 to 1.5 and consequently increased his assist to turnover ratio from 1.6 to 2.7. His field goal percentage increased from 36% to 40.7% and his three-point shooting percentage increased from 27.6% to 38.6%.


Speculation on where Matt Carlino is transferring is really kind of pointless because: A) he hasn't announced any schools that he is interested in and B) he may very well have several schools in mind. A popular sentiment is that he will go to some no name school and dwindle in obscurity on the court but come away with a Master's degree. Andy Katz of ESPN has said that Matt Carlino will be "the hottest commodity on the open market in transfers this spring." Why wouldn't he be? He has started two seasons for a respected program, been to the NCAA tournament twice, and made a deep run in the NIT. Young teams without a proven point guard will be salivating to pick up a player like Carlino, who brings senior leadership and both big game and NCAA tournament experience. Matt Carlino stands to be a tremendous asset to whichever program he joins.


There is no way around it; BYU is taking a major hit with Matt Carlino leaving the program prematurely. What BYU lacked this season more than anything else was the kind of experience and leadership that can only be gained by having seniors on the team. Few schools can have consistent high-level success without it and BYU is not one of them. In losing Matt Carlino, BYU also loses depth in its guard line.

However, BYU can mitigate the loss of Matt Carlino if a couple of the guards can rise up. The Cougars have a great lineup of guards going into next season including Kyle Collinsworth, Anson Winder, Skyler Halford, Frank Bartley IV, Chase Fischer, and Jordan Chatman. Most of them have shown promise as Cougars. Fischer and Chatman have yet to play a game for BYU but if they are as good as advertised, then look for them to make strong contributions for the Cougars next season.