What you think as you look back on the BYU men’s basketball season is that is was a fairly good one. Yeah, it stings to think about the losses that should have been wins and BYU’s final run in the NCAA tournament that was unexpectedly short lived.
But still, it is safe to say “good” when describing the season. Although not to suggest mediocrity, “good” sums up a choppy season that has been compiled into a series of highs and lows. It describes a season that was ultimately full of change, adaptation and sudden regrouping.
Overall, there were seven key moments and decisions that really left this team with a “good” season.
Loss to ranked Iowa State
This game was influential in a couple of ways. Iowa State was coming into this game a ranked team (No. 21), and a win against a team like that would have been tremendous for the Cougars. Especially after two of their best players fouled out with just minutes left in the second half. But the Cougars lost it 90-88 in a heartbreaking attempt to assert their dominance on the court. It was the first loss of the season for a confident and strong BYU team. A full recap of the game can be found here.
Eric Mika’s eye “incident”
This also happened during the Iowa State game and cannot be left out. But a warning that these photos and video are not for the faint at heart. With 3:21 left in the game, BYU’s Eric Mika took a hit to the face (more specifically the eyes) from Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane, a hit (or poke) so bad he was ejected for the action. This was just the start of trouble for Mika.
Four-game losing streak
BYU’s season was in a pretty good spot until it hit mid season and seemed to implode. Four straight losses took a hit on the team’s confidence, and it was not able to recover until returning home to the Marriott Center. Two of these games were against conference opponents BYU could have very well beaten. The slump was made up for, though, when BYU went on to win the subsequent five games.
Carlino gets benched and a role change
Matt Carlino began the season a starter, but when mid season rolled around the starting lineup was changed, resulting in his role switching to that of sixth man. He provided a real boost off the bench, allowing the Cougars to come back and win it in a couple of instances. He even made a career performance against Portland, draining eight 3-pointers to give him 30 points by the end of the game. By the end of the season, Carlino would prove to be a real asset to the team, especially in his role as sixth man.
A real highlight of the season, BYU beat Gonzaga at home in an electrifying performance in the Marriott Center that left the team at an all-time high in confidence. The ultra-significant win virtually guaranteed the Cougars a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The team’s performance was on point, Winder perfect at the line with 10 points and Carlino showing up with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. A full game recap here.
Collinsworth’s season-ending injury
The Cougars took charge at the WCC tournament and played some of the best basketball they have all season. The celebration was halted, though, when BYU lost to Gonzaga in the championship game. In that game, key player Kyle Collinsworth was injured; he tore his ACL in his right knee and would be out for the rest of the season. The team’s NCAA hopes stayed alive, but losing Collinsworth was the last thing the team needed. Recent updates say Collinsworth went in for a successful surgery, and the program anticipates his return next season.
The departure of Carlino
The end of the season did not go as planned for BYU, as it lost the WCC conference championship and only lasted one game in the NCAA tournament. After the season ended the Cougars were met with more disappointment when Carlino announced he was transferring for his senior season after he graduates this April. The news was a surprise to many BYU fans, and where he is going is not yet clear. Carlino’s real team chemistry is what will make him missed most, as his spark and lift off the bench was a huge asset to the team.