Snyder, Royals Surging

By Matthew Stoss, Daily News-Record

Brittany Snyder
Sophomore guard Brittany Snyder

Brittany Snyder has unusually small feet. They are so small that at 19 years old, she still wears a size 6 – a children’s size 6. And that’s too large. The sophomore guard on the Eastern Mennonite University women’s basketball team said she’s actually more comfortable in a 5 1/2, but wears two pairs of socks to keep the 6s from sliding.

The rest of Snyder is equally miniature. She has hands that barely stretch across two laces on a basketball and match her slight build – and if EMU coach Kevin Griffin has complaints about Snyder, it’s that she hasn’t sculpted more muscle onto her sylph-like frame.

As for those hands and feet, he’ll leave those alone.

“The thing I noticed about her in high school,” Griffin said, “is she’s one of the few kids who can shoot the ball off a screen and off the dribble. Very few kids can do that. She gets it away in a hurry. She’s got such a quick release.”

The little feet are what Snyder uses to get open and the little hands – which have tremendous touch – are what have led the Riverheads High School graduate to the top of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

On Monday, Snyder scored a team-high 15 points as EMU improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the ODAC with a 63-50 victory over Randolph College in Park View.

Going into Monday’s game, Snyder was third in the league, averaging 17.8 points per game and was first with 16 3-pointers. Her touch is so good that she hadn’t missed a free throw all season, going 13-for-13. It’s also earned her a fire-at-will policy from her coach.

“I have given her the green light,” Griffin said. “I’ve told her, ‘If you’re open and feel good, let it fly.'”

So far this season, the strategy has not only worked for Snyder but also the Royals, who are off to their best start since 2003-04 when they won their last ODAC championship. It’s also the best start in Griffin’s four-year tenure and includes an upset win over conference rival Lynchburg.

“We came out with a chip on our shoulder,” junior guard Ebony Dennis said. “People around the league picked us eighth. We just go into every game with nothing to lose.”

The Royals have three players averaging 10 points per game or better and have created problems with a run-and-gun style of play, which emphasizes transition baskets and tenacious man-to-man defense. That’s led to the second-best scoring defense in the ODAC (60.4 points per game) and has generated a league-best 62 steals (12.4 a game).

“Hard work pays off,” Snyder said of EMU’s success. “We’ve left it all on the court.”

Snyder is still trying to adjust to her continuous green light. She said in high school, she didn’t shoot much at all – a reason, Griffin hypothesized, that Eastern Mennonite was her only college suitor.

“I was shocked that more people didn’t want her,” he said.

But for Snyder, the major hurdle in adjusting to her shoot-at-your-leisure pass has been confidence and not understanding of how green that green light really was.

“He wanted me to shoot a lot more than I have,” said Snyder, who averaged 5.8 points in 15.7 minutes per game as a freshman. “… That was tough for me at first because coach has so much confidence in me – probably more than I have in myself. I just couldn’t believe it. How can he have so much confidence in me?”

The answer is straight forward.

“She’s the best shooter I’ve coached – boy or girl,” Griffin said. “Her form is perfect.”

The message, however, is sinking in.

“If I’m open, I try to take it,” Snyder said. “Because if I don’t, coach will roll me.”

Strangely, though, Snyder doesn’t have a reputation as a gunner – a player who shoots all the time, usually to the detriment of her team. Griffin said this is because of Snyder’s shot selection. He said she rarely forces shots and is aware of her limitations. And her teammates don’t see her as a black hole, either.

“She’s consistent,” Dennis said. “They always say good shooters keep shooting, even when they’re missing. … It seems like every game she’s hot.”