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Newest Utah Jazz players share their early impressions of coach Quin Snyder

Two of his new players concede they thought he’d be an intense and angry guy — until they actually met him.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Head coach Quin Snyder speaks to media at Utah Jazz media day at Vivint Arena, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in Salt Lake City.

There’s a pretty notorious GIF of Quin Snyder — the slow head turn, the lips curled in disgust, the eyes that appear ready to vaporize somebody.

The Utah Jazz coach has a reputation based, in part, on those couple seconds of internet infamy.

“That’s social media for you, right? You can make anything,” Snyder said with a laugh, when the subject of his perception online came up.

Thing is, it’s not just random fans who hold such a view of Snyder. Indeed, part of the fun of the team’s annual media day and training camp sessions is getting to talk to the new players and discussing their perception from afar of their new coach, and how it matches up to the reality.

This year’s group of newbies — Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside, Eric Paschall, and rookie Jared Butler — did not disappoint in that regard.

Whiteside, the veteran center, was the most outspoken member of this year’s group in discussing Snyder.

“Oh, he’s nothing like I thought he was,” Whiteside said. “I thought he was going to be a super-strict, angry guy.”

The big man said his apparently false impression was largely derived from previous games played against the Jazz, and Snyder’s on-court demeanor therein.

“On the bench he looks like he’s so stressed out!” Whiteside added with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Y’all are up 30! What are you so stressed out about?’ And he’s over there shaking his head.”

Given those early impressions, the big man said his initial interactions with the coach — particularly as free-agency negotiations were playing out — could not have been more unexpected.

“He gave me a phone call, he was like, ‘Yo, you don’t got to call me coach, you can call me Q.’ I was like, ‘Who is this guy? He’s a smooth-talking dude. I like this guy. I might even go here — I like this guy!’” Whiteside recalled. “He’s like a smooth-talking guy.”

Paschall, who spent his first two professional seasons playing for Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors, said his outside view of Snyder was very similar to Whiteside’s.

“It’s about the same — it’s the same. Playing against the Jazz, you see him on the sideline with his arms folded, and you’re like, ‘Damn, this dude is super-intense,’” he said.

And, like his new teammate, the forward said he quickly came to a different realization once he got to interact with Snyder in person.

“When I started to talk to him, it was great. It was a great conversation, and you see that he’s actually a real cool guy and laid back,” said Paschall. “Obviously, he cares about the game of basketball. He’s cool to be around, for sure.”

Butler didn’t express any preconceived notions about his first professional coach. But he did note that Snyder’s personality was a pretty far cry from that of his previous coach, Baylor’s Scott Drew.

The main thing that’s stuck out thus far has been a hyper-vigilant attention to detail.

“I’m coming from coach Drew, who’s like high-energy, smiling, six shots of espresso; and coach Q, he’s a lot more laser-focused, intense, going super-in-detail about one topic,” Butler said. “It’s two sides of the spectrum. But I like it. He’s been super-thorough, super-locked-in about what we’re trying to do. And I like that a lot.”

Gay, the team’s main acquisition in free agency, but who will miss the Jazz’s entire preseason (which begins Monday in his previous stop of San Antonio) and the beginning of the regular season too, hasn’t really had much opportunity to open up about Snyder yet.

Still, he did reveal on media day that an extended, straightforward conversation with Snyder during the free agency period helped cement some of his views about the Jazz, and was a big contributing factor to his decision to sign with them.

“Coach, he just kept it real with me,” said Gay. “We talked basketball for maybe 45 minutes to an hour. … You wanna be a part of something that’s great. And when they played last year, you saw a culture.”

It remains, quite fortuitously, one completely devoid of eyeballs capable of shooting laser beams.

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