BOZICH | Snider, Louisville bench flip the script against Pittsb - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Snider, Louisville bench flip the script against Pittsburgh

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Quentin Snider impressed Rick Pitino with his play against Pittsburgh. Quentin Snider impressed Rick Pitino with his play against Pittsburgh.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Quentin Snider got word that he needed to return to center court for a post-game radio interview as the University of Louisville's player of the game Wednesday night, he wondered if there had been a mistake.

Snider's reaction?

‘‘Oh, wow,” he said.

This was not false humility. This was legitimate disbelief.

Snider scored four points as the Cards defeated Pittsburgh, 69-56. Montrezl Harrell scored 28. Snider was Louisville's fourth leading scorer.

Snider played three minutes in the first half and did not enter the second half until eight minutes had been played.

He replaced Chris Jones. Four minutes later, Snider expected to hear a horn and be waved back to spot where you can usually find him about 31 minutes a night – the bench.

“When it got to the eight-minute mark, it was like, ‘I guess he's going to leave me in the rest of the game, ‘ “ Snider said.

Snider guessed correctly this time. He gave Paul Rogers plenty of things to ask about on WHAS radio. This was no mistake. He earned it.

The two shots he made, a floater from the right baseline, followed by a 15-footer just outside the lane. The two rebounds that he chased down. And the legitimate defensive jolt that Snider helped give the Cardinals after he and Shaqquan Aaron replaced Jones and Anton Gill with 12:03 to play.

When Snider and Aaron entered, Louisville trailed, 45-39, and the KFC Yum! Center crowd of 22,132 was as unsettled as it seemed all night. The Cardinals had not made a three-point field goal. Pittsburgh was slashing through the Louisville zone. An upset certainly seemed possible.

Snider helped change that. After Snider entered, Louisville outscored Pittsburgh 22-2 over the next eight minutes or so.

He played solid offense and reliable defense, the same way he played at Ballard High School. Snider looked like a guy who was finally convinced that he belonged on the court at winning time. And he did belong. After his initial thought that he was going to the bench, Snider never looked in that direction again.

“Tonight we needed him because Chris (Jones) was not on his game,” Pitino said. “He was forcing things too much and we had to go with him.

“He's playing great in practice. The reason Quentin's not playing better is I don't play him. He's not doing anything wrong … Tonight I just wasn't happy with Chris, so I went with Q.

“So you know how much confidence I have. We're in a war, and I bench our starting point guard and I go with Quentin, so you know how much confidence I have in him.”

Snider needed that. He needed the solid performance. He needed the affirmation from his coach. It was the right performance by the right guy at the right time – and it helped the Cards improve to 20-4 overall. They're also 8-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, tied for third place with Duke and North Carolina.

“Since he's got confidence in me playing in the game, it makes me have more confidence in myself,” Snider said.

“Q is really good on offense,” Blackshear said. “He can really pass the ball and he can shoot it.”

This is the way it is supposed to work on the best teams. When the subs enter the game, they provide energy, grit, offense, rebounding, something.

For the last 2 ½ games, the main thing the Louisville bench had supplied was heartburn for the head coach. Jones, Harrell, Blackshear and Terry Rozier were the only four Louisville players who had made field goals over the Cardinals' previous 100 minutes.

Chinanu Onuaku, the starting center, changed that less than two minutes in the game. It had to change against the Panthers, especially after Blackshear was unable to play more than two minutes because he injured his left hip when he was kneed in practice earlier Wednesday by Mangok Mathiang.

“Coach P talked about (the bench needing to do more) one time,” Snider said.

“I got that through my head that I've got to be more aggressive. That's the thing. Come in the game and not look for my shot, but just attack. If my shot's there, I'll take it.”

Snider took it. He scored four points. Anton Gill scored two. So did Anas Mahmoud. Credit Onuaku with four.

It was only a combined 12. Considering Harrell (28) and Rozier (22) combined for 50, a dozen seems like scraps. But for the Cardinals it moved the trend line in the right direction as March looms.

“It will just make us better,” Blackshear said. “It's going to give guys like Terry, myself, Trez breaks. Tonight really showed Coach what they can do.”

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