Brigham Young University fans have grown accustomed to great plays from their guards. For the past several seasons, fans were treated to the combination of Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery. One was the best shooter in the nation, while the other was one of the best defenders in the nation.
Even before the tandem of Jimmer and Jackson, BYU had Lee Cummard (who technically is a forward, but played a combo position similar to the role Charles Abouo fills currently). Before Cummard donned the Cougar Blue, BYU fans were treated to the ever-solid Canadian Jimmy Balderson.
At the beginning of this season, the Cougars faithful were suddenly faced with the unfamiliar problem of lacking star power at the guard position. While the guards played well enough for the team to win most of its games, they lacked the ability to really take over a game, or to force the opponents to adjust their game plans.
These problems at the guard position are no longer a concern, thanks to Matt Carlino.
The UCLA transfer had to sit out until mid-December due to NCAA transfer regulations. Instead of moping around, he worked his butt off. Carlino could be seen on the court before BYU games going through intense practice sessions with assistant coach Mark Pope.
In the three games Carlino has played in since becoming eligible to play, the fans have plenty to be thrilled about. He averages 16.7 points per game, good for second on the team behind only the always-dependable Noah Hartsock. Carlino also leads the team in average assists with 6.3 per game.
Carlino's emergence at the point guard position has freed up the rest of the team to fulfill their roles better. Opponents can no longer key in on the post game, and the overall production from the guards has increased considerably.
If Matt Carlino can continue his solid production, BYU has an excellent shot at winning the West Coast Conference and making some real noise in the NCAA tournament.