Snider just keeps improving

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - University of Louisville freshman guard Quentin Snider continues to improve in the postseason for the Cardinals. He'll help lead U of L into Friday's 7:37 p.m. ET game in the NCAA Sweet 16 against North Carolina State.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino would tell anybody who was listening for most of the season just what kind of talent he had in freshman Quentin Snider.

"He's going to be good," Pitino said in late January. "He needs to improve on defense but he's going to be a good one for us. I could play him if we needed to play him."

It was less than a month later and Pitino had to play Snider.

The former Kentucky Mr. Basketball from Ballard High School was forced into the starting lineup when senior point guard Chris Jones was dismissed from the team.

And Snider has done nothing but thrive.

"He's been great for us," sophomore guard Terry Rozier said. "He was always going to be just fine, but with Chris there he wasn't getting on the floor a lot. When we lost Chris he had to do it and he's been a great player for us."

Pitino said he "didn't know" what the staff expected from Snider, who is averaging 3.8 points and 1.5 rebounds, while having 42 assists and just 28 turnovers in 510 minutes on the season. In two NCAA games, Snider is averaging 13 points a game with just two turnovers.

"We didn't expect this, to be honest with you," Pitino said. "He's gotten a lot better and he's playing better on defense. He doesn't get nervous at all.

"Q is unflappable. It doesn't matter what the situation, he's never nervous."

The 6-foot-1 Snider, who hit two free throws to win the UC-Irvine game with 8.6 seconds left on the clock, has started eight of the past nine games.

Snider has scored 71 of his 128 points for the season in those eight games, also finishing with 24 assists and 16 turnovers in the starts.

"I'm just trying to do whatever I need to do to help my team," Snider said. "We had to have someone step in there when we lost Chris. The coaches put a lot of faith in me, so I just wanted to go out there and prove them right."

Besides the fact that Rozier and Jones were playing most of the minutes, Pitino also said Snider was behind on the defensive end of the floor early in the season. And when Jones was dismissed the Hall of Fame coach said he would have to live with Snider's miscues.

But the freshman hasn't hurt the Cardinals.

"He's really stepped up for us," senior Wayne Blackshear said.

Now, Snider will get his biggest test on Friday when the Cardinals meet North Carolina State at 7:30 p.m. ET in the Carrier Dome during the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. Snider will be matched up against N.C. State guard Cat Barber, who had 21 in the first meeting.

"He's got himself a helluva assignment," Pitino said. "He'll have to try and contain Cat Barber. Our other guards couldn't do it."

But Pitino pointed out again that Snider is "fearless," and said that, "I really like that about him. He's fearless and he's improving."

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