BYU freshman Matt Carlino hopes he’ll contribute in a more positive way Thursday when the No. 14 seed Cougars play No. 3 Marquette here in Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Carlino got benched in BYU’s dramatic win over Iona on Tuesday and he admits he didn’t play well against the Gaels. In his place, junior Craig Cusick took over point guard duties and settled BYU into a more structured offense and made key plays on defense.
“We have to play two halves and come out strong,” Carlino said of Thursday’s matchup with the Golden Eagles. “They’ll come out physical so we’ll have to match that. We are excited to be in another game.”
Carlino said personally, he needs to take better care of the ball.
“I need to be more of a floor general out there. I didn’t play well the last game but I got to sit and watch and I’ve had some people talk to me and they’ve said I need to look confident out there and play to my abilities and play up to the way to help my teammates be better.”
One of the people Carlino talked to is a close friend Miles Simon who recruited him at Arizona and played at Arizona where he was named the Outstanding Player of the 1997 NCAA title game, a Wildcat win over Kentucky. Simon is now an ESPN analyst.
“I asked him if there was anything he could tell me and he did. It helped me a lot.”
Despite not playing a key role in BYU’s win over Iona, Carlino is eager to learn and get better. The comeback was remarkable and he will never forget it.
“It was a crazy game to comeback from that much. Hopefully we can keep it rolling. We were down 25 but our team knew we could come back. We chipped into it the first half and made it 15 but you can make a run at any time. It was incredible.”
Charles Abuou also sat a lot of Tuesday game with Iona. In his place freshman DeMarcus Harrison had a career high 12 points.
Coach Dave Rose told reporters the reason he threw more playing time to Harrison was because of his effort in practices leading up to the NCAA Tournament.
Abouo said he sat, watched and was impressed with how younger players “stepped up” in the game and helped lead a comeback. He appeared humble about his own reduced role.
“It just says a lot about the depth we have on this team,” said Abouo.