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UCLA Basketball Roundup: What the Carlino Transfer Means

Before we turn to the big news of yesterday, the transfer of Matt Carlino, let me just add the most frightening  comment during the press conference may have been the comment from CBH that he needed Malcolm Lee against the Cal Poly Mustangs.  We know have only 9 scholarship players but the fact that we need a player against a 3-4 mid-major for a home game is either coaching hyperbole or a danger sign. 

It looks like Lee will play tonight but he  may have long term issues:

In better news for the Bruins, Howland also said that sophomore shooting guard Malcolm Lee should be able to play against Cal Poly on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion even though Lee tweaked his previously sprained ankle in practice Thursday and is suffering from patellar tendinitis after hurting his knee against Montana.

That we need Lee against a team that is ranked 330th in FG% and 327th in Points per game is worrisome.  Of course part of the problem is we are down to 9 Scholarship players due to Carlino leaving.   Speaking of the other news, Matt Carlino is transferring.

Five things on the Carlino transfer.  Three big Negatives and two  other not so negatives.  (I will not say positives.  It is not a good thing for a kid to leave like this.) 

The obvious negatives.

1.  We have only nine scholarship players available, only four of which are guards.  Of those four, Malcolm Lee has some injury and durability issues.   Zeke Jones has some fouling issues.   The other two guards are young (Tyler Lamb) and Jerime Anderson.   I am not laughing at DoctorMexican now, well I am but Blake Arnet may see action at some point this year when the game still matters. 

2.  This is the sixth transfer in recent years for CBH.  Wright, Stanback, Gordon, Morgan, Moser, and now Carlino.  Superbruinman pointed out that Duke has had a lot of kids transfers as well.   However, this is a flag of concern.  Considering the fact we have lost four in the last two years.  Individually all have explanations but taken as a group there are some questions developing for CBH.  The biggest concern is did CBH know of the potential issues when we recruited the kids and why did UCLA recruit them?

3.  Which brings us to Carlino.  Why the heck was Carlino recruited in the first place?  Carlino said he came as a PG, in his first interview on coming to UCLA:

It was a good fit for me as a point guard, and how many guys Coach Howland has done a great job.  

Yet Carlino could not beat out Anderson as backup PG and was considered a shooting guard at this point.   This is not DC backing up JF.  At 2, we have Tyler Lamb, Malcolm Lee and next year Norman Powell (who by the way is being compared to Westbrook as an athlete.)  Did Carlino read the writing on the wall and transfer? 

But the larger case is again why was he recruited?!?  (A three point specialist?)  CBH admitted he screwed up in not playing him against Montana when a three point specialist could have played but the larger question is why recruit him in the first place. 

 Two not so negative comments. 

1.  As others have mentioned this frees up a scholarship for a PG.  CBH must recruit a true PG that can contribute right away. 

2.  Carlino may be a bit of a head case.  His basketball odyssey is interesting.  He commits to Indiana and moves to go to high school there from Arizona, then surprises Indiana by coming to UCLA before his senior year of high school.  Carlino knew his playing time was not guaranteed and it seems a bit early to leave and may be a sign of larger problems.  After all Carlino said in question with Jon Gold after he was recruited:

JG: How important will playing time be to you next season?
"Whatever coach Howland feels is going to help him win, he'll do. I'm concerned on doing whatever coach asks me when I get there. Everything will work out how it works out. We have a lot of good players coming in and a lot currently there. He has the tools and he knows what to do with them." 

Obviously he is a young kid and I tend to agree with Class of 66 sick of this "junior high" stuff.  But I don't care how you slice it there are still major concerns here regarding CBH.  Yes, I realize that Roy Williams did not know the Wear twins were leaving and was blindsided by there coming to UCLA but still worrisome to hear CBH say the things he said in response to Carlino leaving:   

Howland said he was blindsided by the decision and hadn't seen any warning signs - he also said Carlino had a great practice a day earlier - and it appears to be a playing-time issue.  . . .

However, when UCLA's shooting numbers were dreadful in Sunday's 66-57 loss to Montana, Howland still decided not to play Carlino. After the game, Howland even said he wouldn't consider redshirting him.

"That's definitely an aspect of it," Howland said of Carlino's dissatisfaction with playing time. "He's done fine academically. He doesn't see it long-term being best for him. That's why he made the decision."

Or this:

"It really caught me off guard because I wasn't expecting this," Howland said. "I didn't see him being down or lowly this whole time, so it was a surprise. I understand why it's hard after you're used to being the star of your high school team, which most of these kids are."

Carlino, who graduated high school early so he could enroll at UCLA this season, averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 assists in leading Bloomington South High to a 23-1 record and into the Indiana 4A State Regional finals. He was a point guard in high school but was going to play shooting guard for the Bruins. His departure leaves the Bruins (3-4) with only nine eligible scholarship players.

"It's obviously disappointing because it leaves us short-handed," Howland said. "Where it will hurt us is if we come down with a significant injury."

CBH needs to win 20+ games this year and compete for the PAC 10 title, even if Blake Arnet is the backup PG.

Montana Game One Last Time (I hope ) and Cal Poly

As some reported in the threads, it seems Smith and/or Nelson had colds in the Montana game.  Smith particularly seemed limited.  Between Smith's cold and his thumb, it may be in line to cut him some slack. 

However, Reeves Nelson is another issue: 

Howland said he had spoken with sophomore Reeves Nelson about the forward's tendency to sulk when things aren't going to his liking.

"So much of his stuff when he's not doing well is mental," Howland said. "He gets down, he drops his head and it only is a self-defeating thing when he starts to do that."

. . . There was a five-point, five-rebound effort against the Jayhawks offset somewhat by what Howland called "maybe the best defensive effort of his career," followed by a five-point, six-rebound game against the Grizzlies in which Nelson repeatedly missed layups and put up little fight when a Montana player tried to tug the ball away in the second half.

But Howland said he was encouraged by Nelson's play in practice this week for the Bruins, who are on a four-game losing streak.

The Kansas game was interesting in that Reeves not only played decent M2M D on his one of the Kansas twins he also had 4 assists and played up top.  The Montana game is unexplainable, except by the cold.  Reeves need to have a big game tonight, not to win this game, but to get himself back on track.  In addition to the obvious good effects maybe that will help purge the "bad Reeves"  that sulks and yells at teammates. 

Cal Poly Mustangs             

This should be a win, relatively easy but I am loathe to predict that.  In addition to the terrible numbers  mentioned above: 

The Mustangs have lost their last three away from home, as they continue their five game, 29 day road trip. Cal Poly has lost the four all-time meetings with UCLA.  

On the positive side for Cal Poly the Mustangs give up only 60.3 points per, 44th in the nation and limit opponents to 41.4 FG%.  They will likely play a match up zone.  Their guards have some size but not their forwards.  Really, none of their players really stick out.  They should not be able to score much on UCLA and their hope will be their zone defense will not allow UCLA to score either.  More details on the Mustangs here.  

The Mustangs aren't the issue.  Will Malcolm Lee's injuries effect him?  Will Reeves become a better teammate and play at the level he is capable on both ends of the court?  Will Smith start to play more consistently?  And most unbelievably, will Blake Arnet play because we need him or (hopefully) in the last minutes of a blow out?