Former Middletown High School guard Clif Snow had a pretty decent rookie season at Lourdes University in Sylvania last year, but it was tough to get excited about his individual success transitioning to NAIA college basketball amid an all-too-familiar team performance.
After three straight losing seasons with the Middies, Snow endured another one as a freshman starter at Lourdes as the Gray Wolves finished 10-19 overall and 3-17 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.
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That’s what makes his breakout sophomore season so much more satisfying.
Snow, who averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds last year, now leads Lourdes (18-9, 9-8 WHAC) with 18.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. His 25-point effort Wednesday night in a win over Concordia (Mich.) helped the Wolves punch a ticket to the conference tournament for the first time since 2014-15.
“It feels really good,” Snow said. “Especially after struggling last year, just being able to help my team and make a playoff push, it’s a lot more rewarding.”
A difficult first year wasn’t completely unexpected, though. Snow said he knew it would be a young team but had faith the team could be successful in the future and felt confident in his decision to go to Lourdes. Snow led the Middies with 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior in 2016-17.
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“(Assistant) coach Rudy Evans recruited me throughout high school and was on me every morning,” Snow said. “I remember every morning in English class at 9:30, I would get a text from him asking how things were going, how my game went the night before. I took my visit and I loved it. It’s pretty much what I thought and fortunately we’re playing pretty well now.”
The experience last year was no doubt beneficial, though, and vital to his development as a player. Snow said he needed time to learn the system and get a feel for the college game, and now almost two years in, he feels much more comfortable with his teammates.
He was named to the WHAC All-Newcomer/Freshman Team last year and is one of the top players in the conference this year.
After the end of his freshman year, Snow said he focused on getting stronger and putting on more weight, which has made a difference in his ability to contribute inside. He was a guard at Middletown but is playing forward in college. Snow came in at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, but now checks in at 6-5, 187.
“I definitely notice a difference,” Snow said of his growth. “When you are stronger, it’s easier to finish, easier to defend, and it takes less of a toll on your body. I feel like I can do what I need. Last year or even in high school, not that I felt I wasn’t strong enough, but I just wasn’t strong enough to do some things. I’m still getting stronger and trying to improve.”
Snow is a more complete player now. He’s settled into his new position while the guard skills he showcased in high school as a Greater Miami Conference second-team selection have made him a more versatile forward.
He ranks fourth in the conference for scoring, second in rebounding, third for 3-point percentage (.435, with 2.7 made per game), fifth in field-goal percentage (.493), sixth in blocked shots (0.73 per game) and ninth in assists (2.96 per game).
While he’s played a big role in the team’s success, Snow credits the others around him for opening up more opportunities for him to score.
“Maybe I’m getting relied on more, but a lot of it is I’m a lot more efficient,” Snow said. “Also, we are better as a team, so shots are easier to come by.”
The Wolves have won nine of their last 12 games, and during that stretch Snow hasn’t dropped below 15 points in any contest. He’s had five games (of 27 total) in which opponents held him to single digits — an improvement from 13 games in double figures last year when he started 27 of 29 games.
Snow said he and his teammates are confident they can carry some momentum into the postseason with three games left on the regular-season schedule. The WHAC Tournament begins Feb. 21.
“Everybody fully believes we are here to win the tournament,” Snow said. “We’re just focused on us, trying to finish out the season and see how seeding goes and hopefully we give ourselves a chance.”