One of the best things about being a Utah Jazz fan for over two decades is that you were a fan of a team that valued consistency. You had ownership consistency, which lead to front office consistency, to head coaching consistency, and then it trickles all the way down to consistency on the court. Because of this consistency two things happened a) things were the same nearly year after year, and b) because of that you could identify if something is working correctly or not.
We, dumb, non-Insider, fans knew if the Utah Jazz were playing well or not, executing the offense or not, or doing what they were supposed to do or not because we had seen the same plays run for over five presidential terms. But that worked out for the Frank Layden --> Jerry Sloan --> Tyrone Corbin Jazz era.
And that era is over.
Sure, Jerry is still around and Frank does interviews. But the basketball Utah Jazz fans are going to see this year isn't specifically going to be the Utah Jazz basketball that we grew up with. Sure, fundamental similarities will be there (after all, we know how close the Utah Jazz / San Antonio Spurs franchises are) -- but what Quin Snyder is going to bring to the team, and make the team run, isn't that same old (or remixed, or re-remixed) Dick Motta offenses of the past. In fact, we can only guess what it's going to be like. We're just going to have to wait and see.
So long Flex. Hello possible non-position limited modernization of offensive system based upon over two decades of coaching on every level and all over world.
Over the last few weeks I've been trying to get my hands on all Duke, Missouri, Austin, and CSKA film as I can. Why? So I can see what we're supposed to see our offense do. (Again, it was relatively easy to analyze what was going right with the Jazz because I had seen them do it right for years. The system is changed now, and I need to build a frame of reference for that. I know, not every blog is so steeped in Rational Empiricism. Other blogs don't even know what that is.)
One thing we do know about Snyder as a head coach and as an assistant is that his teams win. He has a career record of 616-385 as a coach (assistant or head or whatever). That means he is around winning programs, programs that win over 60% of the time.
Sure, there aren't a lot of championships there, but there are two very important take aways.
- The teams he is a part of are usually playoff teams
- He has rebuilt before -- bottoming out at Duke before going to the NCAA championship four years later; and then again with Missouri, where that program was in shambles. Of course, he left it in shambles too, but that's not all his fault.
If you just look at his record as a head coach you see that he has gone 240-164 -- which is a 59.4%. It's not as great as his career (assistant, etc) record of 61.5%, but it's still very high. This is a dude who, on average, is part of a program that would win 50 games in 82 tries.
So it's not like we're hiring a loser to take the reigns. Dude comes from an impeccable pedigree, and if you look at the guys he has been coached buy / coached under you understand why this is.
Okay, we get it. He has been a part of some great programs. But what can he do for the Jazz? It's simple, he brings in the right attitude, and he also brings in the right experience.
- Stage 1: Duke (1993-1999) -- The program goes from the top, down to the bottom, then back to the top again. He learns patience, and understands that there is no need for a quick fix. They stuck with the plan, took their hits, and worked their way back up to the top in a planned and organic way. Along the way he learned a lot about coaching from one of the best, Mike Krzyzewki. Which he took with him to . . .
- Stage 2: Missouri (1999-2006/07) -- Everything you read about this period tells you that dude was meant to coach. His system and his way with the players made a laughingstock a team that went to the Elite 8. While he wasn't amazing at recruiting he was great at coaching. Thankfully, at the NBA level recruiting for coaches only means anything if you are Phil Jax. The GM and players do the heavy lifting here. I think with Missouri we saw a guy who paid his dues, and display that he is ready for that next level.
- Stage 3: Austin (2007-2010) -- Being a D-League coach means that at any point in time your best players are going to be called up to play for pro teams in other leagues. This keeps you on your feet, and makes you learn to be flexible. It's the opposite of running the same plays for Big Al when Big Al is no longer on the floor. He had to adapt to a shifting roster over those three years, and still lead his team to become a powerhouse. Sure, they never won the title, but the playoffs in the NBA-DL aren't 7 game series affairs; and as a result, upsets happen. He set some record for most call-ups. He's not going to cry if a player is traded, injured, or something else. It's his system that works - and doesn't rely upon personnel.
- Stage 4: Everything else -- He fills in the cracks of his three major coaching stages with trips to sit on the bench behind the best. Larry Brown taught him offense, Mike Brown taught him defense, Doug Collins taught him communication, Ettore Messina taught him flow, and Mike Budenholzer (not Muke) gave him a lot of responsibility with which to test all of his skills.
And the end result is not just that he's a lucky guy who bounces around to winning programs. It's clear that is a big part of what makes those programs win. He has four years in Utah with which to make something happen. He helped make Duke, Missouri, and Austin turn around in short time. The Jazz, though, go back to stability and patience. That's the one thing I think they'll never give up on. So here we have an opportunity to see what Snyder can do over an extended period of time without looking over his shoulder.
He has never won a title, and neither have the Jazz. But together I am certain that the next four years are going to be filled with small victories. We're on the way back up. And a big part of that is going to be Coach Snyder.