Unflappable - (un●flap●pa●ble) adjective: having or showing calmness in a crisis
"He's just too slow....."
"His height is an issue....."
"He can't shoot well enough......"
"The kid can't guard anybody......"
and my favorite......
"He's a good kid but gets too many minutes......"
Be honest and tell me with a straight face that you haven't heard, at a minimum, at least one UofL Men's Basketball fan utter some or all of the aforementioned quotes about starting point guard Quentin Snider over the past few seasons. If you reply with a no, you're likely lying. In fact, I'm betting the farm that the majority of folks reading this piece have thought or said all of the above at some point or another over the past two plus seasons. If not, then good on you.
It's time to push the truth to the forefront and accept reality. Quentin Snider is for real and somewhat of a basketball anomaly. As evidenced by his already legendary performance against UK last Wednesday, "Q" defies what we all as irrational fans THINK he should be or better yet, what we WANT him to be. Want evidence or verification?
❶ College basketball fans, Louisville notwithstanding, fancy instant gratification. Specifically, they want five star recruits, especially when their in-state rival an hour down I-64 has a roster littered with them every year. Snider signed with UofL out of hometown Ballard High School rated as a four star by most recruiting services. Because of that meaningless fact (cough, Russ Smith was a two star), it almost inevitably makes it a little easier for the average fan to question any subpar performance a kid has by simply saying something along the lines of, "Well, what do you expect from a four star kid? He just can't get over on these higher rated players." I've heard it, you've heard, we've all heard it at some point and it comes out in times of frustration. But the bottom line is that a kid like Quentin Snider just proved that stars are meaningless when it comes time to walk out onto the biggest of college basketball stages.
❷ College basketball fans also wish for players who seem to never miss a shot. As ridiculous as it may sound, it's true. I selfishly live among this group of fans at times. We want kids who can fill it up every time on the court, stretch zones and literally score at will. Snider may not be a natural born scorer or a kid who's going to win every three point contest he enters, but he IS the all-time leading scorer from a high school that produced the likes of Allan Houston and a slew of other high level division one players. Tagging Kentucky with 22 points last week should not be a total shock to those paying attention then should it?
❸College basketball fans, and the national media notwithstanding, seemingly gravitate toward players with big personalities or a sexy back story. We tend to embrace them and covet them good or bad. We make excuses for them more times than not. These players get hall passes. If flying under the radar is meant to personify a player with a quiet, discreet persona then Quentin Snider is merely feet above the ground. As I wrote back in February of this same year, Snider is silent and simple but oh so smooth. If I'm buying a new boat and only plan to ride then I want a guy like Snider as my captain. Calmness prevails.
The 2016-17 campaign has certainly gotten off to a hot start for this Cardinal basketball team. The bad news: nothing gets easier from here on out as Virginia invades the Yum Center this evening. The good news: I still believe this team has yet to play its best basketball.
I'm far from the sharpest knife in the drawer, but the one thing I DO feel certain about is that the Cards will likely only go as far this season as Quentin Snider leads and directs them in March. Despite playing the likes of top 10 opponents such as Virginia, Duke and North Carolina, the Cards are unlikely to face a tougher test than Kentucky. Sure, there will be more challenging environments as most road games in the ACC are nightmares. But few teams will present bigger potential match-up problems for a team like Louisville than UK did last Wednesday. Therefore, the hope is that Snider and his teammates will ride the wave of momentum and continue to show us all that you can't judge a book by its cover.
Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to give kudos to Head Coach Rick Pitino, a man that I have been occasionally semi critical of in the past when it relates to recruiting. Quentin Snider is the poster child for what player development is all about especially in a system like the one Pitino has built at Louisville. I should have learned my lesson after watching the likes of Preston Knowles and Russ Smith (both unheralded and virtually non-existent from a recruiting ratings standpoint), as they morphed into excellent college basketball players, Smith an All-American. And while we don't yet know how the story of Quentin Snider as a Louisville Basketball player ends, one thing we now can be sure of is that he's writing his own chapter of success that should make us all believers going forward.
Go Cards, Beat Virginia.