Aside from the unstoppable Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth is the most important player on this BYU basketball squad. Hands down. Bar none. No doubt about it. Tonight’s game proved that.
Yes, even more important that Matt Carlino.
Carlino’s impressive run to finish the regular season (and some pressure from Twitter icon and Carlino idolizer @PostJimmer) had me thinking maybe the UCLA transfer deserved the honor. And there’s stats to support the claim. Carlino’s 30 point game against Portland propelled him past Collinsworth as the second leading scorer on the squad, and the team seems to struggle when he struggles. Indeed, BYU lost four straight when Carlino hit a slump and shot 13 for 52 (25%), earning himself a permanent role off the bench. In fact, I sat down just this afternoon to write an article recanting my long-held position (see here, and here) that Collinsworth is more important than Carlino.
But tonight’s WCC quarterfinal game against Loyola Marymount solidified what I have said for a while now: Kyle Collinsworth is more important to this team than anyone except Tyler Haws.
Tonight the Cougars struggled shooting, going 0-12 from the 3-point stripe. For his part, Carlino was 3-11 from the field, including 0-4 from 3-point land. Even Haws was a bit cold, missing all five of his 3-point attempts (most of them wide open) and shooting just 9-22 (41%) overall. And freshman Erik Mika was a non-factor with just 7 points on 2-7 shooting.
Despite the Cougars’ shooting woes, Collinsworth had a heyday against the Lions, shooting 10-15 (67%) for 23 points and hauling in a jaw-dropping 16 rebounds. When LMU made runs (and they made a lot of them), Collinsworth had the answer on both sides of the court, slashing to the basket on offense and picking up steals (he had 3) on defense. The 6’6″ guard made it look easy while his teammates looked like they were playing against an NBA defense. In the now-legendary words of the great Jeff Chatman, Kyle Collinsworth is a stat sheet stuffer. Make that #statsheetstuffer.
Collinsworth’s ceiling is definitely lower than Carlino’s–Collinsworth 23 points tonight was a career high, while Carlino has matched or exceeded that five times this season. But Collinsworth adds a much needed element of consistency to this team. He has shot below 33% from the field only twice this season, while Carlino has done it 12 times.
What tonight’s win over LMU proves is that BYU can win even when Matty Ice is ice-cold, because Collinsworth never takes a night off. His consistency has been the anchor of this team’s success, even if Carlino’s sky-high abilities represents BYU’s full potential.