The Utah Jazz hired a new coach June 6 when they named Quin Snyder as their head coach.
This is an important hire for the Jazz, who look to rebound from a terrible season when they finished dead last in the Western Conference.
Since 1988 the Jazz have only had two other coaches besides the newly named Snyder. Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan was the Jazz coach from 1988-2011, when he stepped down as the coach.
In 2011 the Jazz had a tough decision on who would replace the Hall of Famer Sloan as the coach; Sloan had taken the Jazz to back-to-back finals in the ’90s. Sloan also finished his career with a .623 winning percentage, and he won 1,127 games in Utah, a career total of 1,221 combined with his brief tenure in Chicago, good for third all-time.
At the time that Sloan stepped down, the Jazz had two main assistants who could step in as the new head coach, Tyrone Corbin and Jeff Hornacek. Both had played for the Jazz and both were top coaching candidates having interviewed for other teams.
The Jazz decided to go with Corbin and it seemed to pay off right away as he led the Jazz to the playoffs in his first full season as the head coach. However, then the Jazz missed the playoffs Corbin’s next two seasons, and last year Utah was the worst team in the Western Conference.
The other issue is that many of the young Jazz players were not improving under Corbin. Then you add in the fact that Hornacek had taken a Phoenix Suns team that was expected to finish in last place and nearly make the playoffs, while helping the young Suns players improve immensely throughout the season. This led Jazz fans to question if Corbin was the right choice over Hornacek as the head coach when Sloan stepped down.
Therefore, the hire of Snyder is a significant hire to give the Jazz fans some hope of putting the Jazz back in playoff contention year in and year out. Let’s take look at Snyder’s playing career, and coaching career.
Snyder played high school basketball at Mercer Island High School in the state of Washington, where he was a McDonald’s High School All American in 1985. He decided to attend Duke University and played in almost every game and helped the Blue Devils reach three Final Fours.
During his sophomore season he played his way into the starting lineup. Snyder’s best season was his junior year where he averaged 8.3 points, 5.7 assists, and shot 48 percent from the field. Then his senior season he was named team captain and was honored as an Academic All-American.
Snyder was able to graduate from Duke with a double major in political science and philosophy. He was not done after that, as he received his Juris Doctor from Duke Law School. Then he finished up a MBA with Duke as well.
During his graduate schooling he was offered a coaching position with the Los Angeles Clippers for a season. Then came back to Duke as an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski. Before the 1997 season Snyder was named associate head coach; this helped elevate him to a head coaching candidate almost immediately.
In 1999, Snyder was named the head coach at the University of Missouri. He right away made an impact as he took the Tigers to the NCAA tournament each of his first four seasons.
During the 2001-02 season he had the Tigers ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP poll. It seemed that Snyder had found a good home in Missouri as the Tigers began the 2003-04 season ranked fifth in the pre-season AP poll.
However, that season started the downfall of Snyder as the coach at Missouri. They started the season well as they reached the No. 3 ranking, but they finished the season 16-14 and did not reach the NCAA tournament. Then the Tigers were placed on probation for three years after the NCAA found questionable activities with how Missouri had handled former player Ricky Clemons.
His final season in Missouri was 2005-06 when he resigned, after telling the media he was going to finish out the season. Snyder’s coaching career had taken a big hit with how he handled the Missouri situation, as he was once viewed as one of the best young coaches in college basketball.
In 2007 Snyder was trying to restart his coaching career when he took the head coaching job for the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League. He had success right away as the Toros won their division and made it to the D-League Finals.
Snyder’s second season he was named Coach of the Year in the D-League. Then for this third season the Toros had more rookies on their team than any other team, and they were able to make it to the semifinals. During this time in the D-League Snyder had more wins than any other coach during that time and even more impressive was that he was able to help more players reach the NBA than other coaches.
This short stint in the D-League helped rebuild Snyder’s reputation as a good young coach, showing he could develop talent.
The next four years Snyder spent in the NBA as an assistant coach on four different teams. It started in Philadelphia where Snyder was the player development coach under head coach Doug Collins. Then he spent a season under then L.A. Lakers coach Mike Brown.
The following year Snyder had the opportunity to become head assistant coach for the European team CSK Moscow of the Russian Professional Basketball League. Finally, Snyder was able to come back to the NBA as lead assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks, under first year coach Mike Budenholzer.
It does seem a little interesting that Snyder worked for a new team each season, but it did seem he was taking a better job every time.
Snyder has shown the ability to develop young players and the Utah Jazz have plenty of players who need to develop in order for the Jazz to compete sooner rather than later. Again as we mentioned before the Jazz need this hire to workout especially with Hornacek seeming be a great hire in Phoenix.
As a first-year head coach in the NBA Snyder will have his challenges, but I do feel like he has the tools to be a successful coach. Snyder has proved he can develop players, and lead a team as he has proven in the past.