Going streaking: Marquette rides wave with up-and-down Carlino

Transfer guard Matt Carlino is Marquette's leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, down one full point per game from last season at BYU.

Jeff Hanisch/Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Marquette knew exactly what it was getting when Matt Carlino came to the Golden Eagles as a graduate transfer in April: Streaky, but also capable of carrying the offensive load on any given night.

And that’s exactly the player he’s been.

Carlino’s first 16 games with the Golden Eagles have been a microcosm of his collegiate career. There have been moments like his 38-point game against Georgia Tech or his game-winning shot to beat Creighton, but he’s also disappeared at times when Marquette’s lackluster offense could have used a jolt.

"I’ve had my ups and downs," Carlino said. "But I look to be playing my best basketball at this time of the year."

After his 19-point night against Creighton, Carlino is Marquette’s leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, down one full point per game from last season at BYU.

Carlino is actually attempting nearly three fewer shots per game this season than he did as a junior with the Cougars, which likely has more to do with pace of play than anything else.

BYU is consistently in the top 10 nationally in possessions per game, while this season Marquette is 228th in pace. While the Golden Eagles don’t have the scoring threats around Carlino as the Cougars did, more possessions meant more scoring chances with BYU.

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"It has been a little bit different coming to a new team and finding my role," Carlino said. "I’ve played more off the ball than I ever have in my career, but I’m getting used to it."

Carlino is shooting just 39.3 percent from the field but is fifth in the Big East in 3-point percentage at 39.5. He’s hit just 28.6 percent of his 3-point attempts in conference play, but that includes a 1 for 10 night from beyond the arc against DePaul in the Big East opener.

"I think the DePaul game really reflects the bad shooting numbers," Carlino said. "I know I’m going to knock down shots. I just have to keep shooting and be confident in myself, which I am."

As the lowest scoring team in the Big East at 68.3 points per game, Marquette is in need of consistent offensive play from Carlino in order to win enough games to have a shot at the postseason. His scoring average has jumped to 14.0 in conference play and he’s attempting 12.3 shots per game, up from the 8.4 attempts he averaged in Marquette’s 12 nonconference games.

The Golden Eagles are 8-2 this season when Carlino shoots 40 percent or better from the field, while they are 2-4 when his field-goal percentage is under 40 percent.

"I think Matt has been a really key player for us," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "A lot has been on his shoulders. There’s no question that when he’s playing at his best that our team can be really good. At times when he hasn’t played as well, our team struggles. He’s a very important player.

"Matt’s head and heart have always been in the right place. He’s been a team guy. He cares about winning. For us to have an experienced guy like that is good."

Adding Carlino was appealing to Wojciechowski for more than just his playing ability. Juan Anderson and Derrick Wilson were named as captains, but neither brought the experience of having played a major role on an NCAA tournament team.

Being able to speak from experience has helped Carlino reach some of the younger players on Marquette’s roster.

Matt’s head and heart have always been in the right place. He’s been a team guy. He cares about winning. For us to have an experienced guy like that is good.

Coach Steve Wojciechowski on Carlino

"The best advice I have received was from Matt," Marquette redshirt freshman guard Duane Wilson said. "Just the other day he was telling me that it is always hard when you are a freshman and playing a lot of minutes.

"You want to do well so bad that sometimes you don’t as well because of that. He has told me, ‘Let the game come to you and keep playing hard, because if you let the game come to you, it is more likely you are going to play better.’"

While BYU is likely on its way to another NCAA tournament berth and Marquette is in the midst of a transition year, Carlino seems to have no regrets regarding his decision to spend his final collegiate season with the Golden Eagles.

"Not to knock the WCC, but the Big East is one of the best conferences in the country," Carlino said. "It is definitely different, just the physicality and the size. I think it is good. That’s what I came here for. I want to play against the best."

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