Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Baylor\'s #55 Pierre Jackson ,left, battles with BYU\'s #10 Matt Carlino under the basket as BYU and Baylor play Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 in the Marriott Center in Provo. Baylor won 86-83.

PROVO — The biggest story on the Cougar basketball team, as they prepare for West Coast Conference play, is the development and play of point guard Matt Carlino.

The freshman has shown a lot of promise, prompting coach Dave Rose to make him a starter in just his second game.

During that first game against Baylor, he showed a very good shot with the ability to create his own shot, scoring 18 points in his BYU debut. Against Buffalo, his shot went a bit quiet, but he showed a very good ability to distribute the ball effectively, accounting for 11 assists in just 22 minutes of play.

So what facet can Carlino show better in moving forward?

Taking better care of the basketball while providing better perimeter defense would probably be on top of the list. He's accounted for nine turnovers over his two games in 46 minutes while providing some defensive lapses, particularly against Baylor, which helped lead to the Bears' 13-of-25 3-point shooting.

But hey, the kid is just two games into what looks to be a very promising collegiate career and a learning curve is to be expected.

Rose said Carlino is just trying to find where he fits in.

"Any time that you're trying to introduce a new player — especially during the middle of the year — he enters the game with his own agenda because he hasn't played multiple games with the team," he said. "So what he's really concerned about is 'how I can help the team' — that's what I feel happens with guys, and I've been doing this a long time."

Rose said what Carlino simply needs is more time on the floor and his identity with where he fits in with the team will take care of itself.

GAME WITH THE GAUCHOS: The Cougars will next take on a 5-4 Santa Barbara team tonight at the Marriott Center. With just a two-day turnaround after taking on Buffalo, Rose and his staff will have to accelerate the process of prepping their players for the Gauchos and their star, Orlando Johnson.

"It's a very good offensive team," Rose said. "They're very experienced. I've seen Orlando Johnson play and he's a very good player — as good as any player that we'll play in the Marriott Center this year. We have a lot of work to do.

"I'm looking forward to the game and they're a very good team. It's a team that we're going to have to be ready for."

WCC ANNOUNCES TELEVISION SCHEDULE: WCC teams will be seen weekly on ESPN or on one of the ESPN affiliate networks. BYU is scheduled to appear on ESPN affiliates a total of seven times, including the Cougars' first WCC game against St. Mary's on Dec. 29, which will be carried by ESPN2.

Cougars on the air

UC Santa Barbara (5-4) at BYU (9-3)

Tonight, 7 p.m. MST

Marriott Center, Provo.


Radio: 102.7 FM, 1160 AM