MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Matt Carlino wanted to introduce his coach to a family member that watched the team's NCAA Tournament shoot-around Wednesday afternoon.
Dave Rose strolled over to behind center court, said a hello, and then left Bradley Center with his starting point guard as both stared into the rows of seats that won't be so empty Thursday.
Rose put his arm around Carlino, and said something that had them both laughing on the way back to the bus.
Now, they need Carlino to embrace being a starter again.
"I'm used to starting games," Carlino said. "I really don't think it's that different. A little different. But I feel comfortable doing both."
Carlino's re-entry into the starting five becomes easily the most fascinating talking point of the Cougars' Thursday afternoon tipoff against Oregon (approximately 1:15 Utah time; TruTV).
Kyle Collinsworth, who started every game and saw 82 percent of the available minutes this season (second to only Tyler Haws' 82.4) is out with a wrecked knee.
That leaves Carlino, who missed 12-of-17 shots against Oregon in December and brings a 4-of-17 shooting accuracy rate in the NCAA Tournament — from his two games as a freshman.
Carlino, however, did thrive extensively in last year's NIT.
But not enough to keep his starting job all season. He shot his way onto the bench for a while, but he's the best option with Collinsworth gone.
"We have good players and we're fortunate that the position is we'll start a guy...who started over 70 games for us," Rose said.
Carlino helped BYU slice into a 20-point deficit last Tuesday, after Collinsworth's knee buckled with 13 minutes left.
Still, though, Carlino was just 3-of-12 shooting and missed all five 3-pointers.
BYU missed 29-of-35 3-pointers in three days in Las Vegas; Carlino was 1-for-14.
He said simply that the Cougars needs to "make more threes" after a rough stretch in Las Vegas.
Carlino has been a lightning-rod topic all season, with a game and mentality like old star Jimmer Fredette's — score-oriented point guard most comfortable with the ball in his hands — but without the accuracy rate.
Carlino is shooting 34 percent from 3-point range. His 170 attempts nearly doubles that of Tyler Haws (95) and triples Anson Winder (59) yet those two have accuracy rates around 40 percent. Skyler Halford has 90 attempts, making 32 percent.
"Personally I think Matt has had his best season since he's been here. When you come off the bench as a sixth man, it seems from a public opinion or from a media opinion that maybe his season has been tarnished," Rose said. "But in reality I think his play has been so consistent and so steady for our team that he's been a huge factor in our success. And we need Matt to play well for our team to be successful. That will probably step up a little more because he'll probably get a few more minutes."
Whether it was supposed to indicate a fresh start, the junior showed up with the team sporting a trimmer haircut.
It's a fresh start of sorts for him. It's also a second home of sorts. Carlino's mother is actually from Milwaukee, so he's visited often throughout his childhood.
He's back to his childhood days — or even most of his BYU days. Starting again. He hasn't started since Jan. 4. BYU lost at Utah and Oregon, then started West Coast Conference play with a couple of defeats — Carlino made 5-of-20 shots to start league play —and Rose made a change.
It seemed to do Carlino good. He became more adept at getting steals, less prone to seeking a perimeter shot that could've been found later with a little more balance and patience.
"His ability to not only score the ball, but he can really deliver passes on time in our half-court sets and in transition, and that's huge — a big key for the other players around him," Rose said of what he's looking for.
BYU players like Eric Mika are aware that Collinsworth's most hard-to-duplicate asset from Carlino's role may be rebounding.
Carlno averages about five rebounds less (8.1 compared to 3.4) than the 6-foot-7 Collinsworth, who is about five inches taller and is a great challenge for opponents at both ends of the floor.
"I wouldn't call it putting pressure on myself. But I know I have to get some of those rebounds that Kyle (gets). He flies in and it helps us out because we just kind of clear the lane and he gets it," Mika said. "So now we've got to clear the lane and get it ourselves, so it's going to be a little bit tougher."
∫City's roles reversed: Before BYU and Oregon face off, it's No. 2-seeded Wisconsin facing No. 15 American.
If American knows what's possible, it's because of another Washington D.C. school. Last year Georgetown was a No. 2 seed that was upset by No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, which became the start of the two-week "Dunk City" phenomenon.
"Anyone is beatable at this time," American guard Darius Gardner said.
∫The great ticket hunt: You know how Luke Worthington used his fouls early in the season? That's nearly the same aggressiveness he took to finding tickets for games. He grew up 25 minutes outside Milwaukee.
"Oh, I was hounding guys," the freshman center said. "Anything I could do."
Worthington estimates he came up with nearly 30 seats.
Each player is given six. Mika said he gave him four, and others had some leftovers because of the cost of getting to Wisconsin on such short notice.
Worthington's family actually doesn't live in Mequon anymore. His father retired and his parents moved to Florida, where he vacationed often as a kid.
His brother was actually on his way from Wisconsin to St. Louis (to see relatives) and was on his way to Florida when he opted to turn around after BYU's site was announced Sunday.
Worthington — who lived about nine years in the area — said he's never played in the Bradley Center, but attended Milwaukee Bucks games and other events.
His role has been stronger the last month. It remains to be seen how he's used against Oregon.
He saw just seven minutes and didn't take a shot in the first meeting.
∫Remember this name: Jason Calliste is dead serious. He's not crazy about Oregon.
Well, the Canadian who played ball at three years for Detroit isn't crazy about the West Coast in general.
"I like the East Coast better," he said matter of fact inside UO's locker room.
BYU would like it if Calliste didn't fare so well in the second meeting. The 6-foot-2 senior, who's only started one game this year, had career bests in points (31) and free throws (13-for-13) against the Cougars.
He averages 12.4 points and has only put up 20 twice since Dec. 21.
Coach Dana Altman credits some of Calliste's short-stay leadership for UO's turnaround that saved the season after losing the five consecutive Pac-12 Conference games at one point.
Could Calliste damage the Cougars again?
"It was nothing really special for me," he said. "The ball just fell down there."
UO point guard Johnathan Loyd recalled Calliste telling him before tipoff at Knight Arena that he was feeling good. The first hoist was a 3-pointer, and Calliste finished 4-of-7 from the arc.
"(BYU) kept trying to go under screens on him," Loyd said. "He hit that first shot. Then he kept knocking down that trey."
∫Back at home: Kyle Collinsworth had surgery Tuesday — not long before BYU left for Wisconsin – to repair a torn ACL.
Athletic trainer Robert Ramos said in the Cougars' locker room that the operation "went extremely well, as expected," as the surgeon used a piece of hamstring to repair the knee that was hurt a week earlier.
Ramos said there was also a small lateral meniscus tear, which will keep Collinsworth on crutches a little longer.
But it's not expected to delay his rehabilitation overall.
"If everything goes as planned, he should be on the court in six months," Ramos said.
Asked about the possibility of redshirting next year — because the recovery would come so close to the start of the next basketball season — Ramos said he didn't anticipate that.
"I don't think Kyle would have that. I don't know if coach would have that. If everything goes as planned, and there are no setbacks, he'll be doing on-the-court drills as early as four to five months."
Several teammates said during the half-hour media availability that they were keeping in contact with Collinsworth this week, though one said the pain medication had his teammate "pretty out of it right now."