It's Saturday, October 4th. How soon is the season from today? The first preseason game our beloved Utah Jazz will play will be on Tuesday, October 7th. So, they tell me a picture tells 1,000 words . . .
Yes, preseason is right around the corner. And as a result, that means that Jazz team scrimmage will be too. BEHOLD:
REMINDER: Jazz Open Scrimmage is Monday at 6:30pm (doors at 5pm). Get there early... first 500 fans in get a pair of preseason tickets!— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) October 3, 2014
So the first game is on Tuesday, and the scrimmage is on MONDAY! I'm sorry NFL and NCAA FB fans, but if you follow me on twitter you're pretty much getting mostly basketball from here on out.
We love Quin Snyder. He was the starting point guard for a Duke squad that went to three Final Fours in four years. He has helped coach under a number of greats, and coached a number of good players as well. I think Utah fans are going to love him because of what he can do to help a team win games. He's fitting right in as he and his wife Amy just had a kid, this is his fourth: Owen, Anika, Wyatt, and now baby girl Madeleine!
Huge congratulations to Quin and Amy Snyder on the arrival of their daughter Madeleine, born Thursday afternoon in SLC!— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) October 3, 2014
Woo Hoo! Jazzbaby of the year #1!
In other news, this was the reason why practice was kinda 86ed the other day. The one and only DJ Jazzy Jody tweeted this yesterday, before his brodown.
Quin Snyder said Alec Burks jokingly told him he needs to have more babies so the Jazz have more days off.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) October 3, 2014
Four is probably enough . . .
Do you know this guy? You should.
He was my first Utah Jazz head coach, and most of you immediately know him as Frank Layden -- you know that guy who played Karl Malone 30 mpg as a rookie, and so forth (among his various virtues). He made a bunch of awesome VHS tapes in the 80s as well (not the same kind that Rob Lowe made, mind you). Anyway, Utah wasn't where he started.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York; and there he learned to love this game. He went to college at Niagara University, in upstate New York. He made the team there, and he and team mate Hubie Brown kind of made names for themselves. (So, highest BBALL IQ ever for two teammates?) Layden coached Niagara as well, and took them to the dance for the first time in their history (one of his players was Calvin Murphy, not bad, not bad at all). He paid his dues to be a coach by knowing the game and being able to teach it. He was later on hired to be an Assistant Coach with the Atlanta Hawks, hired by his former teammate Hubie Brown (who was the head coach). He got his foot in the NBA door that way, through hard work and good connections.
It's kind of like Quin Snyder in a way, former College player, then former College Coach who got into the NBA through connections and being known for teaching the game. Just wanted to point that out.
Anyway, back to Frank. Frank got his career started at Niagara University, where the gym there is named after former Niagara coach John J. Gallagher (who was the coach there from 1931-1943). They are re-naming their center court this year. Via the Niagara University Athletics site:
NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. - When the Niagara University men's and women's basketball teams take the floor for the 2014-15 season, they will be playing their home contests on the newly named Frank and Barbara Layden Court. The official unveiling of the court will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, before Niagara hosts Canisius College in a 3 p.m. contest.
"Frank and Barbara have been very committed to Niagara University over the years," said Fr. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. "Although Frank left the university in 1976, Frank and Barbara have never left the Niagara family. They have remained committed to the athletics department, the theatre and the entire university. We are pleased to honor them for their dedication to Niagara. Their name will stand forever as a testament to them, and their outstanding legacy at Niagara University."
Frank Layden, who played for Niagara from 1951-55 under John "Taps" Gallagher, is a pro and collegiate basketball coaching legend. After playing for the Purple Eagles, he returned to his alma mater as the team's head coach for eight seasons. Under his leadership, Niagara made its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1970.
Awesome. Calvin Murphy and Hubie Brown are going to be there too, so buy your tickets! Also, I only found out about this story through following the Deseret News' superstar Jody Genessy on twitter. It pays to be social! Or at least, lurk on social media.
Congrats Frank, you are my first Jazz head coach -- and as a result the coach all the other ones ultimately are compared against. Your fun, creativity, and command of your roster was rivaled only by your ability to run a team (Coach of the Year and Executive of the year in the same year, succas), and teach young players how to be NBA players.
This year we're hearing a lot about floor spacing when the players talk about the offense. It allows for discrete one man or two man plays to be run all over the floor, while other players still go through screens, make feints to the basket, or curl around the arc to get open. Floor space and movement don't usually work hand in hand. The modern era of floor space is predicated on nailing defenders to the perimeter next to knock down three point shooters who stand stationary behind the arc -- thus allowing for a player with an athletic advantage to bully their way to the rim somehow (LeBron James drives), or have a speedy player get freed up with a pick and slide to the basket (Tony Parker drives). If you try to help defend on the drive you leave your man, your man becomes open, good teams find this guy, and good shooters make the three. And boom. You got played.
Snyder's offense involves a ton of off the ball movement as well, from what little we've seen so far. It's Messinian / Spursian in that ideal, while keeping with the strong passing game from his Duke roots. I like it. I don't know how well it's going to work right out of the gate though. And only because I think the tendency could be to back fire with a team that isn't familiar with it right now. So much so that the defense may be able to cheat a bit with the movement creating cheat zones on defense.
Of course, the remedy for this is, well, the traditional form of maintaining floor space: by making the deep shot. Utah's relationship with this shot has been troublesome at best. Let's go down memory lane:
- 2011-2012: The Jazz made the playoffs in this lockout shortened season, but were doing so on the strength of their inside players Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors. The team ranked 29th in three pointers attempted, and were 28th in three pointers made. But hey, they were only 27th 'best' in their three point percentage. Their playbook did not include a deep attack, and that made the team very easy to defend in the playoffs. No floor space = too much help defense. The team had to go out there and remedy this.
- 2012-2013: The Jazz went "all in" on winning now, and managed 43 wins, which isn't good enough --ever-- in the Western Conference. They brought in Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, and Randy Foye -- all guys who can take and make threes. The playbook didn't evolve though even if a few guys had standout years. The Jazz ranked 28th in three pointers attempted, but thankfully were 23rd in makes, a product of being a whopping 8th best in 3PT%. Of course, two of those three guys left the team in the off-season, and we were back to square one again.
- 2013-2014: This was last season, where the Jazz went "all in" on the lottery. The coach did adapt the gameplan to be small forward oriented instead of Big Al Jefferson oriented -- and the threes flew! The Jazz ranked 25th in attempts (record high over the last few years), were 24th in makes, but went down to 25th in 3PT%. The top five guys in 3PTA last were Trey Burke, Richard Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, and Alec Burks. One of those guys just loved to throw up end of quarter heaves as well, so, yeah, not really a game plan decision. You may also notice that THREE of those five guys were ball handlers (Burke, Burks, Hayward), so these threes were likely to be off of pick and roll situations, not spot up situations (the 3PT% breakdown in Synergy agrees). So they took a lot of threes, but threes not made through a plan, but as a breakdown of a play.
And here we are today, the key to the offense is to get these Spurs style threes -- threes that are a consequence of defensive breakdowns. Last year we had a lot of threes as a consequence of OFFENSIVE breakdowns, where the play clock runs down and someone sets a mercy screen for a ball handler to chuck up something they won't make.
More people need to be able to make threes, in addition to the offense working to get them open. Steve Novak is the three point guru on this team right now, he has made a living of making that shot after getting open. What did he see in practice so far?
Via the SLTRIB beat writer and beard bro Aaron Falk
Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Gordon Hayward don't suck as much as he thought they would. Baby steps. But the subtext still could be "Hey Quin, if you want to run your offense, I may just have to be on the floor there to pin a defender down on me to maintain floor space. Or you know, suit up Mehmet Okur."
Of course, he didn't say that at all, though. It's going to be an interesting year where we will need our bigmen to be able to set a lot of screens, and pop out and spot up enough to draw a respectable level of defensive interest. Effectively, they need to all be like Vegas level Brock Motum.
While one of the most fun things I do every week is write here, I do get an opportunity to do a bunch of other stuff in the basketball world. I'm lucky enough to be asked to be on online podcasts and real-time radio (but I rarely link those here); or get to do guest posts on other sites. I guess I'm consistently worried about over-saturating my voice on this site, or trying to self-aggrandize. You guys are here for the Jazz, after all; and not here for little ol' me. But I guess the flipside is that I produce or am involved in more Jazz content then I show I am.
But you guys are kinda rabid for Jazz content.
So I will throw a few of you a bone, and here's something I did for Sheridan Hoops, it's a five point Jazz season preview -- but with different points than what I wrote in the blogger preview yesterday.
I would like to thank Chris Sheridan and Chris Bernucca for the opportunity to write about the team I love. And I wanted to thank all the readers here for giving me a place to write for. If you all did not show up, I would probably have quit a lot time ago.