By Noah Allison–
When senior point guard Chris Jones was dismissed from the team toward the end of the regular season last year, it seemed as if Louisville’s season was over.
Enter Quentin Snider.
Despite starting just one game in his career, the true freshman took the reigns of Louisville basketball and helped orchestrate a run to the Elite Eight, where Louisville was only a missed free-throw away from making a third Final Four appearance in four years.
Last year’s unexpected dismissal of Jones could prove to be a blessing in disguise as the sophomore point guard returns one of the most experienced and proven players on Rick Pitino’s young roster.
A 6-foot-2 Louisville native and former Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky, the Ballard High School graduate quickly became a fan favorite and team leader with his play in Louisville’s end of the year run.
Snider went from playing sparing minutes throughout the regular season to averaging 35 minutes a game during his ten starts to finish off the season.
Over those ten starts, Snider had 31 rebounds and 29 assists, averaged 9.5 points per game and made 14 three pointers. He led Louisville with 16 points and made two 3-pointers in a tough 57-55 win over UC Irvine in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Having played so much over the final stretch of the season, the young team will heavily depend on Snider as a leader and playmaker for this young Cardinal squad.
“It built self-confidence, and confidence is the main thing. I feel more experienced and understand more both defensively and offensively,” Snider said of the end of the year run.
Snider benefitted from playing with the likes of Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier, who did the majority of the scoring. But in crucial moments, Snider displayed an ability to slice into the lane and make shots from behind the arch.
With the addition of fifth year seniors Trey Lewis and Damian Lee, as well as freshman guard Donovan Mitchell, Snider will have a chance to play both the point and shooting guard position. He will utilize his natural abilities as both a distributor and a scorer.
“Over the summer I was basically staying in the gym and trying to get more arch on my jump shot,” Snider said. “Doing drills and working—it has paid off. When I release the ball, it feels good.”
Snider will be sharing the backcourt with the likes of Lewis and will have to give up the ball at times—something that’s becoming more familiar to the natural point guard.
“I’m getting used to the two-guard, and he’s (Lewis) getting used to two-guard, but we just have to learn how to play off each other and feed off each other,” Snider said. “I feel like there are two point (guards) out there. Whoever grabs the rebound will just take it.”
In the opening scrimmage of the season against Bellarmine University, Snider didn’t start at either the point or the shooting guard position. When he came in off the bench the offense played well, and Snider finished with a team-high eight assists.
“He understands the point,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said. “Trey is learning the point—Q knows the point. Those two guys will play a lot together. Basically what I told Q is, ‘Don’t let starting or not starting bother you. At the end of the year, you will be one, two or three in minutes played, and that’s what we are all about.’”
With the talent that surrounds him, Snider’s point guard instincts should easily take over.
“I feel real comfortable with the backcourt,” Snider said. “We have a lot more shooters than we had last year. I can create by taking the ball into the paint and then find the guys who can shoot well.”
“Q is able to find the open spots which is big, if your open he’ll find you,” freshman guard Donovan Mitchell added.
Despite his quiet demeanor and sophomore status, Snider is unquestionably a leader of this team and a go-to-guy. With only ten starts under his belt, the sophomore will have to make his mark felt in order for Louisville to have a successful season. The humble young man may not feel the spotlight, but he knows it’s on him.
“I feel the same as I did last year, but I know I have to be a leader on this team,” Snider said.
“Q is more quiet, but he leads by example. When we are on the floor together he is always looking for me, and I am always looking for him. We have a real bond. He leads low key,” Mitchell said.
Despite starting or not, playing the point or the two, screaming or leading by example, Snider is going to be himself. At the end of the day, the Louisville native is a Louisville Cardinal, and playing basketball is what he does.
“It is all instincts,” Snider said. “That’s what I have, and it helps me.”