Monday, December 10, 2012

Matt Carlino saves the day and takes down the Utes

The text message I got from my mom right after the BYU / Utah basketball game on Saturday night pretty much says it all: "Do you need a paper bag to breathe into?"

Holy Moley, that was intense. I thought for sure BYU was going to lose. I had all but given up until there were about 6 minutes left in the game, and the tides finally turned. I love it when my basketball boys prove me wrong!

Utah had a solid and clever game plan-- use a box-and-one defense on Tyler Haws (with one defender sticking to him like glue, while the rest of the team plays zone), keep Brandon Davies away from the hoop, and force BYU to shoot 3s all night long. It worked perfectly through the first half-- #43 and #5 on Utah's team were constantly slamming Haws to the ground (of course, without any whistle blows), and Davies was getting beat up, too-- he just couldn't get to the hoop and shot only 4 of 10 on the night. Plus he got 2 fouls and headed to the bench fairly quickly, forcing Nate Austin and Ian Harward to try to keep the Cougars' heads above water for the last several minutes of the first half. They barely managed to scrape by.

Zylstra was completely cold-- he literally didn't hit anything. Bad night for that kind of luck. Only 3 of the bazillion attempted threes in the first half went in (1 from Cusick, 2 from Carlino). BYU was shooting 20-something percent overall, which is totally humiliating. The Utah fans two sections away from me were reinforcing sterotypes by chanting profanities, getting escorted out of the Marriott Center by police officers, and yelling stuff toward the student section that I couldn't even understand (probably a good thing). Although I generally don't agree with the generalization, one BYU fan's sign "Max was right" seemed highly appropriate at the moment. The Cougs were down by 9 at the half. Fear began to set in.

You would think from the final outcome that something big happened in the second half, but that's not really true. There wasn't a huge 15-0 run or anything like that. It was very slow and steady. BYU  chipped away at the Utes' lead, but they just couldn't manage to catch up completely. Enter Matt Carlino

Inconsistency has been Matt's middle name lately. He's totally capable of making big contributions to this team, but sometimes he can't hit the broad side of a barn and tends to pass the ball to people wearing the wrong color jersey far too often. Frankly, he hasn't played an amazing game since his very first game as a Cougar against Baylor nearly a year ago. He even lost his starting position this year to the more-consistent and better-under-pressure Craig Cusick. But he just might have earned it back on Saturday night . . .

BYU was down by 6 with 6:02 left in the game. Matt hit a 3. The Utes missed a 3. Matt got the rebound, drove down court, and made another 3. Suddenly, with 4:55 left, we were tied. Josh Sharp committed a foul, and Utah made 1 of 2 free throws to put them up by 1. Haws passed to Cusick . . . and Craig drained a 3. FINALLY BYU was ahead, with 4:21 left. A few free throws later, Tyler sealed the deal, and my boys got it in the bag, winning 61 to 58. All in all, there were late contributions from several players, but without those two crucial 3 pointers from Matt, I don't think we ever would have gotten close enough to win.

I hope Matt's shooting against the Utes was more than just luck. We need another consistent scorer behind Brandon and Tyler-- they can't carry the team by themselves. It's pretty much got to be either Cusick or Carlino. One (or preferably both) of them needs to get in the groove before we hit conference play in January, or the team may not even go dancing this year. I really hope this doesn't turn into the equivalent of the 2012 football season, with a few really good players (Brandon & Tyler-- the equivalent of Van Noy & Hoffman) not being able to shine because the rest of the team can't contribute. Time to step it up, boys! I believe, and I'm ready for more! :)

1 comment:

  1. My sister was there and needless to say, she was not impressed or surprised at the Ute fans' behavior.

    BYU had a bad night, but still won!