Laina Snyder, 3, shoots a jumper during a game at Kates Gymanasium. 

How to Watch

Saturday’s AU vs. Minnesota-Duluth Division II national championship game at 3:30 p.m. will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. Check your cable or streaming packages to find out if you have that channel. If you type in your zip code at this link, it will tell you the channel to find. That is channel 322 on Spectrum’s cable package in Ashland.

ASHLAND — Ashland University’s all-time women’s basketball scorer — who now plays professionally in Germany — shared two words of advice to her former team and alma mater as the Eagles head to Saturday’s NCAA Division II national championship in Dallas:

“Don’t lose.”

In a more serious tone, Laina Snyder added she has all the confidence in the No. 1-ranked Eagles to bring back the national championship trophy to Ashland.

“Keep being you guys,” she said from her apartment in Berlin, addressing the undefeated Ashland University team. “I’m really proud of you. Remember, ‘the strength of the team is the team.’”

Snyder quoted Robyn Fralick, her last coach at AU, when she recalled the “strength of the team” mantra.

Snyder ended her career at Ashland with 2,295 points, the most ever scored at AU, even on the men’s side. (LeBron Gladden scored 2,102 by the time he graduated in 1990.)

In 2017, when Snyder was a junior, she led her team to the school’s second-ever national title. The team then finished as runner-up in 2018, her last year there.

2017 National Championship Title

So she qualified her “don’t lose” advice quickly after uttering them: “Losing in the national championship (in 2018), for me, I mean it’s probably why I’m still playing. So in some aspects, losing helped me. But it’s also not fun. Winning is a lot more fun.”

Snyder, 27, is originally from Millersburg. When she graduated from AU in 2018, she worked with Spherion of Ashland for a year before accepting an offer to play for the Willeton Basketball Association in Australia. Over four years, she’s played for seven teams across two continents: Europe and Oceania.

Currently she starts as a 6-foot-1 center for Alba Berlin, the largest German national basketball club by membership figures.

Laina Snyder for Alba Berlin

She came to the team after a strong season with New Zealand-based Southern Hoiho, where she averaged 20.5 points per game, 8.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals. While there, she was voted League Player of the Week twice and has also been awarded All-Luxembourg League Center of the Year and twice as League Player of the Week.

In Luxembourg, she helped her team win the Luxembourg League title and make an appearance in the league’s cup final.

Her current team just began its postseason, so she hasn’t had as much time as she’d like to catch some March Madness. She’s unsure if she’ll be able to catch the Eagles’ game in Dallas on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. vs. Minnesota Duluth — it depends on her team’s performance on Friday.

“If we win (on Friday), I get to watch them. So that’s the hope,” she said.

But she’s been able to watch some games — and she’s observed something.

“Honestly, watching the discipline from college, it’s something I forgot about until I started watching some of those games,” she said.

She watched an Ashland University women’s basketball game recently and it took her back to the drills at practice.

“We were playing within a system and we learned how to do that amazing. We mastered that system. So at the college level, you learn how to maneuver that without even thinking. And you see that, especially watching AU. They have a smooth operating system,” she said.

At the pro level, it’s a little different. She said playing for seven teams in four years has shown her how each and every team approaches offense and defense differently.

“So you just adapt to those different concepts — getting used to that is the biggest difference,” she said.

That adaptability, she ventures to say, has made her a better basketball player.

“I’ve learned so much about the game of basketball. There really is a whole world of basketball outside of Ashland. I never would have known that had I not played for another team … it’s fun to be a student of the game.”

So what’s next for Snyder? Could we see her play for the WNBA someday?

Snyder laughed.

“That’s not a goal of mine. It’s not something I want or have the ability (to do). But there’s still a few countries where I’d like to play,” she said.

But, then again, “I started off saying I’d play just one season. So it’s more just I want to play basketball at the best level I can until I’m ready to stop. For now, I’ll just keep playing, keep enjoying it.”

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