Matt Carlino (pictured) and Derek Elston are both fresh off tourney MVP performances at holiday…
Crean's Appearance Means Plenty to Carlino
With the Hoosier coach watching from the stands, the Class of 2011 IU commit scored 23 points on 10-of-23 shooting Tuesday night and had one flurry where he scored 10 points in 90 seconds. But in the end Carlino's performance wasn't enough as Highland (17-3) fell to Texas-bound Daniel Bejarano's Phoenix North squad, 59-51.
"It's always disappointing to lose," Carlino said. "I don't want to lose, period. But I think we were able to take that loss and take a huge step forward (in a 78-63 win over Chandler H.S. the following night), and I think we'll continue to make some giant steps forward."
While the game might not have gone according to plan, Carlino was both well aware and appreciative of the fact Crean was in attendance for the high-profile encounter.
"It means a lot to me seeing Coach Crean would come all the way here to see me play," Carlino said. "I know he's really busy right now with his season. He didn't have to come down for that."
Crean might be busy with the current season, but he's also always thinking about his program's future as well. A big part of that future is the 6'2", 170-pound point guard from Gilbert, Ariz. A consensus top-10 player in the 2011 class, Carlino is an extremely athletic guard who is capable of playing either guard position.
Carlino averaged16 points, seven rebounds and five assists as a freshman, and he has upped his totals as a sophomore and recently had back-to-back 30-point efforts in games against Hamilton H.S. and Mesquite H.S. But he's also drawing his share of attention from both opposing crowds and teams due to his rapidly growing reputation.
"I'm seeing a lot more shadows this year than maybe last year, but I'm learning how to deal with that," said Carlino. "The crowds also try to get on me pretty hard, but that hasn't been too hard to handle."
While Crean is already envisioning Carlino in an IU uniform and in the Hoosier backcourt, Carlino's focus is on his high school season and his team's pursuit of a state title. Ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 5A, Highland is trying to avenge the disappointment of last season's postseason when it entered the state tourney as the No. 1 seed only to lose in the first round.
"That was probably the toughest thing I've ever gone through basketball-wise," Carlino said. "This year, it would mean everything to me to win a state title. I think we're capable of doing it. Knowing what it felt like to lose last year, all the guys on the team really want to do it this year."
Whenever his high school season comes to a close, Carlino has hopes of making it up to Bloomington to either see an IU game or to visit make extensively with the Hoosier coaching staff. He could also be making more frequent visits to the state of Indiana this summer, as he's considering playing with the Indiana Elite AAU team this summer after playing with Pump and Run last summer.
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