Head NBA Coach of the Utah Jazz Speaks to SBC

This past Friday at 8:00 PM, Lawrenceville students in the Sports Business Club (SBC) spoke to Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder through Zoom.

This past Friday at 8:00 PM, Lawrenceville students in the Sports Business Club (SBC) spoke to Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder through Zoom. The call was structured into three different segments. In the first segment of the call, the SBC Board asked questions to Snyder regarding his coaching journey, the impacts of the coronavirus on the National Basketball Association (NBA), and basketball strategies and trends among teams. Secondly, Snyder answered some shorter questions in a five-minute speed round. He then took questions from other Lawrentians attending the call.

Snyder is currently in his sixth season as head coach of the Utah Jazz. He has guided Utah to a 268-206 (.565) record and has helped the team to three straight playoff appearances. He has received numerous coaching awards and was even named the runner-up in NBA Coach of the Year in 2018. Synder possesses a diverse coaching background that spans more than two decades in the NBA. He started in 1992 as assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers before going to coach at his alma mater, Duke University, alongside his old coach, Mike Krzyzewski. In 2007, he took a job in the NBA Developmental League as a head coach of the Austin Toros, where he spent three years. Then, after bouncing around lower-level NBA coaching positions, he moved to Russia to become Head Assistant Coach of the Professional Basketball Club CSKA Moscow. Finally, after one year as assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Snyder landed the head coaching job of the Utah Jazz in 2014, where he remains to this day.

Snyder was invited to come speak to the club by SBC Executive Vice President Scarlet Sherr '21. When asked why he was chosen to speak, Sherr said, "Coach Snyder has been a family friend for many years. I knew he would be a fantastic speaker due to his diverse coaching career and thoughtfulness. With the NBA season put on hold, I knew now was probably the best chance to have him present information on his experience and answer some questions for the club. He immediately offered to help and was excited to speak with us."

After all professional sports leagues shut down as a result of the coronavirus, many students wondered how franchises were dealing with the crisis. Snyder stated, "In our situation, Rudy [Gobert]...was the first player who was diagnosed [with COVID-19], [and] obviously the league [had to react] and everyone adjusted." At the onset of the spread, Synder had to deal with many complications that the virus caused, such as working to maintain morale and camaraderie among the members of the team. He also talked about how he and the team have been taking many steps to try and achieve goals such as making a cookbook together and starting a book club.

Then, Snyder spoke about his views on how trends such as "small ball lineups" will affect the direction of the NBA in the following years. He discussed how some trends are started by one team, but when that team proves their success, they become increasingly more popular around the league. One example he gave was how the Houston Rockets used to be one of the only teams to switch on pick and rolls. After this worked in the playoffs for Houston, the rest of the NBA started doing it more often. Snyder even said that he was once told, "Pick and roll defenses get people hired and fired," which shows how important it is for NBA coaches to pay attention to growing trends and adjust their coaching strategies accordingly.

Reflecting on Snyder's speech, SBC President Kylan Tatum '21 said, "Coach Snyder's talk provided an important message for everyone in the Lawrenceville community: to focus on our humanity and to do something during this time of crisis that we can look back on and feel proud."

On his experiences during the talk, Richard Zhou '22 said, "I thought it was great being able to listen to one of the top head coaches in the NBA on taking risks. Between his transition from the Lakers to the Jazz, it was interesting to see how he took advantage of his opportunities."

Devon Cole '21 agreed, saying, "It was really interesting to hear about how a real NBA coach got to where he is today, especially with all of the decisions he had to make along the way. I especially enjoyed his story about choosing to leave his position as an assistant NBA coach to take the opportunity to coach in Russia. I thought this was really important to see how taking risks [on] once-in-a-lifetime opportunities can really pay off!" In addition, she believed that "The virtual meeting went well and didn't distract from the experience at all, and...it was smart to have the questions prepared beforehand so that everything ran smoothly."

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