Regardless of his position, BYU needs to get Matt Carlino untracked

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Pegged by many as the team most likely to challenge Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference, the BYU Cougars have struggled mightily of late. Losers of four in a row and five of their last six games, Dave Rose’s team has encountered issues on both ends of the floor. Offensively the Cougars have shot 15-for-56 (26.8%) from beyond the arc, and defensively they’ve given up at least 1.09 points per possession during their current losing streak.

As a result, BYU finds itself 8-7 overall (0-2 WCC) and essentially in the same position they were in last season: unless they go on a serious run, their NCAA tournament hopes will come down to whether or not they can win the WCC’s automatic bid come March. Given the talent on the roster hope isn’t lost, with Tyler Haws averaging 22.0 points per game and leading four Cougars scoring in double figures.

But if BYU is to turn things around, beginning with their WCC home opener against San Diego on Saturday, they have to get junior guard Matt Carlino going.

Carlino’s averaging 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season, but over the last four contests he’s accounted for just 9.8 points and 1.8 assists. As a scoring point guard Carlino’s going to be aggressive offensively, but his struggles of late as both a distributor and scorer have resulted in fewer minutes at the point with Kyle Collinsworth being asked to do more. In BYU’s loss at Pepperdine on Monday night Carlino played just 19 minutes, and that has led to questions about what position he’ll play.

Will Carlino remain at the point? Or will he shift over to the off-guard position? Regardless of the answer, it’s clear that BYU needs Carlino to get going and their three straight league home games could serve as a catalyst. And as noted by Jason Franchuk of the Provo Daily Herald, how Carlino adjusts could have a significant impact on the Cougars’ hopes for the remainder of this season.

Carlino sounds like he has buyers’ remorse out of something purchased for him, and how he handles the situation (and vice versa with coaches) may say a lot about whether a turnaround is coming, or this season is doomed.

“I think the thing for me is I didn’t know how different it would be from the point, playing the two,” Carlino said. “And I think you can see it out there if you watch. It has just been difficult for me because I haven’t been performing the way I want to. I think it has a lot to do with how I have prepared to play the point this whole time, and then you get thrown into a new role and it is kind of like you got to catch up on the fly.”

Saturday’s game at the Marriott Center matches two teams in search of answers and their first conference win of the season, with San Diego also struggling of late. With that being the case BYU will need a focused Carlino, regardless of his position on the floor.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.