TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Michael Snaer said the shot was easy. He expected to make it.
And he did.
“I knew it was going in once it left my hand,” Snaer said minutes after knocking down a 3-pointer Wednesday night to lift Florida State past Maryland 73-71.
So did Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who couldn’t believe that his defenders had left Snaer that open. As soon as he took the shot, a Terrapins defender said, “Not again.”
Yes, again. Snaer is making this business of knocking down last-second, buzzer-beating 3-pointers look like it’s no big deal.
It doesn’t seem to matter if there are hands in his face, and often there have been two defenders on him as he takes aim. Snaer just keeps sinking 3’s, a pair of them inside seven days as the Seminoles escaped with home wins over Maryland and previously Clemson on Jan. 24.
Last year, Snaer did it at Duke — knocking down a 3-pointer both at the halftime buzzer and then again at the end of the second half to sink the Blue Devils. A month later, he found the basket again to defeat Virginia Tech.
That’s four shots either at the buzzer or in the final few seconds of regulation. It’s rare that a college player gets a chance to make more than one game-winning shot at the buzzer. Snaer has gone 4 for 4 in less than 400 days.
“Going back in the ACC, I can’t think of a guy that has stepped up in this extraordinary fashion,” said Mike Gminski, who calls ACC games on the Fox Sports networks. “I’ve seen one or two, but not somebody that has made four.”
Snaer is a good 3-point shooter – he has connected on 39.4 percent of his shots (39 of 99). He’s made 172 career 3-pointers, a number that puts him comfortably in the top 10 on the school’s all-time list.
There are, however, plenty of guys across the nation shooting far better than 40 percent from beyond the arc, consistently knocking down shots over the course of a game. But when the clock begins to run out, nobody is doing it better than Snaer. Nobody in college basketball has ice water running through his veins like the senior guard.
And nobody wants the ball more than Snaer.
“You first have to have the willingness to take the shot,” Gminski said. “There are a lot of people that aren’t willing to take that shot.”
With each shot, the legend has grown. The shot against Clemson a week ago was defended as well as it could have been. The other three shots have followed a trend: guard has the ball and creates attention, diverting eyes from Snaer and giving him a good look.
“From this time forward, I’m going to put three guys on Snaer,” Gminski said. “I’m not letting him sniff the ball.”
Jan. 21, 2012: Florida State 76, Duke 73
Duke had won 45 consecutive games in Durham, NC, when Florida State made its visit.
Florida State trailed 32-23 in the closing moments of the first half, but Snaer drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Seminoles within six points. Then Florida State used a 50-point second half to edge the Blue Devils.
After Austin Rivers tied the game with a layup with 4.9 seconds left, Florida State point guard Luke Loucks raced up the court, weaving around Duke defenders until he saw a wide-open Snaer — who hit the shot as time expired.
“Just him being able to make that play — it was a tremendous play,” Snaer said of Loucks’ effort to get him the ball. “All I had to do was shoot it. He pretty much set everything up perfectly.”
Feb. 16, 2012: Florida State 48, Virginia Tech 47
Less than a month after the shot at Duke, Florida State played host to Virginia Tech and was trailing 45-37 with 1:29 left.
But the Hokies went 1 of 6 from the free-throw line down the stretch, and the door was open for a Florida State rally. The Seminoles did just that, using a Jeff Peterson 3-pointer, a Okaro White dunk and an Ian Miller 3 to cut the lead to just 47-45 going into the final seconds.
This time Peterson dribbled into the lane and drew attention before pushing the ball out to Snaer, who was left wide open and raised his hand to alert Peterson. He was again on the wing, in a similar spot as he had been when he made the shot against Duke just 25 days earlier.
Snaer drained it with 2.6 seconds left on the clock, and the Hokies missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.
“I was wide open,” Snaer said. “Anybody could have hit that shot … I wanted it, of course. I know I’m capable of making that shot and fortunately enough it went down.”
Jan. 24, 2013: Florida State 60, Clemson 57
The Seminoles trailed at home 29-21 at the half and nothing went well early.
But Florida State again chipped away at the Clemson lead, as junior center Kiel Turpin had all of his 16 points after halftime. Snaer also drove the lane for a basket with 1:27 left and Devon Bookert made a 3-pointer off a Snaer assist to tie the game at 57 with 44 seconds left.
Snaer had just eight points going into the final five seconds of the game, he seemed to take too long to dribble but then put up a 25-footer with two defenders in his face. The shot hit the backboard — and went through the net.
Of the four shots at the end of a game, this one was contested the best. And the distance from the basket — well beyond the arc — made it more challenging.
“I didn’t know how it was going in, but I was like, ‘This is probably going in,’” Snaer said. “It felt good. I had that lucky touch before. You have a guy that has that lucky touch, you have to just give it to him.”
Jan. 30, 2013: Florida State 73, Maryland 71
The Seminoles trailed 62-54 with 6:56 left in the second half. And Maryland even shot 53 percent in the second half.
But, yet again, Florida State found a way to put itself in position to win. The Seminoles tied the game on Miller’s jumper with 2:32 to go.
And after Maryland’s Alex Len couldn’t dunk off an alley-oop with 13 seconds to go, Florida State trailed 71-70, but had time.
Miller dribbled into the lane, seemed to momentarily lose possession, and drew the defenders before finding Snaer all alone on the left wing.
Snaer was 6 of 12 on the night already, and he calmly launched one more shot. The 3-pointer was good with 1.1 seconds left, and Maryland missed a halfcourt attempt at the buzzer.
To Snaer, this one felt like the easiest.
“There’s no way I can miss this one,” Snaer said. “It’s never been this clean. If I miss that one, it would have been like, ‘Seriously?’ … It wasn’t that much of a tough shot.”