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Missouri men's basketball coach Quin Snyder responds to questions regarding the NCAA investigation the program is facing during a conference, Thursday Oct. 30, 2003, during Big 12 media day in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Kragthorpe: Spurs ties make Snyder solid pick for Jazz

By Kurt Kragthorpe

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Jun 06 2014 05:38 pm • Last Updated Jun 06 2014 11:46 pm

So the Spurs-ification of the Jazz continues with the hiring of Quin Snyder, and this version of him just might be the perfect coach for this team at this time.

The original Quin Snyder, the former University of Missouri coach, would have been too smooth, too slick and too self-assured to fit with the Jazz. Having rebuilt his career in the wake of that messy ending by squeezing a remarkable amount of varied pro basketball experience out of the past eight seasons, he’s ready for this job.

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Snyder is intriguing, because there are elements in his background that make him both a safe pick in some ways and a risk/reward hire in another sense. Jazz fans and players alike should be feeling a jolt of energy right now, three weeks before the NBA Draft provides another boost to this franchise.

The Jazz are getting a coach who’s now sufficiently humble and grounded enough to work in the framework of the organization, yet he retains enough of a dynamic personality and passion for basketball to make him a potential star in the business — again.

We all should have seen this coming, probably. For all of the extensive work done by general manager Dennis Lindsey and the rest of the Jazz organization in the six-plus weeks since Tyrone Corbin’s dismissal, you just knew everything would circle back to Lindsey’s San Antonio connections.

Nobody’s sure what any first-time NBA head coach will deliver at this level, but Snyder proved himself in the Spurs’ extended family as coach of their NBA D-League affiliate in Austin, Texas, for three years. Snyder became more immersed in the Spurs’ way of doing things in Atlanta this past season, working with first-year coach Mike Budenholzer, a longtime San Antonio assistant.

Snyder undoubtedly comes to town with the endorsements of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford. He also was influenced by the likes of European League legend Ettore Messina, after working with him on the L.A. Lakers in 2011-12 and for him with CSKA Moscow in 2012-13, and Messina himself has spent considerable time around the Spurs.

Snyder is a fascinating guy in this profession, for sure. Type his name into a search engine, and Google’s initial response is to offer "Quin Snyder Missouri scandal" as a subject.

He became a rising star in the Big 12 with four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a background that made him a good story, from having played and coached for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and earned law and MBA degrees from the school. Mix in his telegenic looks and sideline persona, and Snyder became a phenomenon.

And then it all came crashing down, amid a lengthy NCAA investigation and struggles on the court, eventually leading to his resignation — he prefers to call it a firing — during the 2005-06 season. If anything, that entire episode works in the Jazz’s favor. They’re getting a coach who has run a high-level college program, but enough time has passed that none of that baggage comes with him. Snyder has accumulated enough pro basketball experience that he’ll be a much better coach than if he had come straight from Missouri to Utah.

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DeMarre Carroll, the ex-Jazz forward, has raved about Snyder’s energetic, attentive coaching in style in Atlanta, where he also worked with former Jazz players Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver. Carroll’s improvement speaks to Snyder’s player development skills.

The Hawks took Indiana to seven games in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Jazz, meanwhile, haven’t won a playoff game in four seasons, thanks partly to a first-round sweep by San Antonio in 2012.

The franchise is still a long way from enjoying any postseason success, but Snyder’s arrival gets the Jazz just a little bit closer to the Spurs.


Twitter: @tribkurt

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