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Quin Snyder's Christmas 'State of the Team' address

Quin Snyder's Christmas 'State of the Team' address

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 11-12 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Every once in a while, Quin Snyder has something he wants to say, something he wants the world to know. At these moments, his eyes light up, his speech becomes earnestly impassioned, almost begging for everyone to listen. Today's shootaround featured one of those rare moments, so I figured I'd upload the audio and do a transcription of today's Snyder interview. It starts with a basic question on tonight's opponent, the Toronto Raptors, and then gets more and more wide-reaching.

What do you expect from Toronto tonight?

They’re a team that knows who they are, they really have an identity, that begins with Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan. They're a team that’s experienced. They’ve advanced in the playoffs, they know how to win, and they’re playing as well as anybody. They’re the best offensive team in the league, and they really fit together, and complement each other well. Guys play to their strengths. It’s just a tough game.

What went wrong on Wednesday, on the second look?

Ty Lawson really hurt us in the second half, his ability to create. We did a good job on Cousins. We had a lot of open shots, a lot of open shots in the fourth quarter. A couple of bad fouls that put them on the line, some reaching fouls, a couple missed blockouts, some breakdowns defensively. Lawson went coast to coast on the make while we weren’t shifted in our transition defense. A little bit of everything.

And fatigue. We had three wings. I hate to harp on that, but we have two guys who have been playing between 10 and 20 minutes a game in Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles that now are sharing significant minutes. So you end up with Gordon at 39 and Joe at 39, and plain and simple we got tired. You’ve got to be even more committed to your habits defensively. We weren’t able to hit enough shots to overcome that. And you know, they made some tough plays. 18 free throws in the fourth quarter. That’s a big number. Could you give up 72 free throws in a game? That’s too many. We had a lot to do with that with some stupid fouls. Like I said, I think Ty Lawson was the difference in the game. Just being unable to matchup with him when we needed to be and keep him in front of us.

We got the update yesterday that Dante was going to be re-evaluated in a week.

He wasn't there last night [actually, Wednesday] either, there's another example of a guy that could play the wing. Raul's played, what, three games this year? So he's in a position where he's got to guard a guy that has been one of the top point guards in the league. So yeah, Dante is out. I think we'll evaluate him on, what, December 28, right in there. Whatever day that is precisely. Got to get him back.

You got to get Rodney back. Got to get George back. Got to get Fav [Derrick Favors] through his restriction, so he can play some four. We're living on borrowed time when we have five guys that are out. So it doesn't really do us any good to try to analyze too much beyond those things. We can sit here and say we need George Hill to guard Kyle Lowry tonight, but he's not going to be here. Or we could say we need George Hill to guard Goran Dragic and say George Hill to guard Ty Lawson.

You know, we needed Rodney Hood, we needed his scoring, it puts a lot of pressure on Gordon. We need Fav to be able to play some at the four. When he and Rudy were in together they were really good. We need Dante if we don't have George Hill so we can defend in certain situations. And then we need some other guys to play better. You know, we need Boris. Boris is playing a lot of minutes. Given what he's done, he's doing a really good job. Rudy's obviously been stellar.

We feel a little bit like, being as undermanned as we are, that you're wasting some really good performances from Rudy and Gordon. I was really happy with the way Gordon attacked, even the last possession, he missed a shot. You know we've talked a lot about getting shots late. We've got great looks. Joe Johnson had basically a layup, his bread and butter shot, he had an open three where we skipped the ball. The only bad possession we had in the end of the game was a turnover where Joe Ingles tried to hit Rudy on a roll. Joe Ingles really hasn't played at the end the game before. Certainly hasn't played 39 minutes. That's the most he's played in his career, right. He's never played 39 minutes.

Shelvin Mack said this team is trying to be who we want to be more often than not. That's a tough tough thing to do, and to learn, especially with the injuries. How tough was that to really figure out who you want to become and become that more often?

We don't know who we want to become. So whatever Shelvin's... I think I would go so far as to say our team is trying to become what we want to be, or what can be consistently. Like, not being able to stay in front of the ball at times and contain is not a function of our lack of desire to be something. It's a function of the situation we find ourselves in, and we just got to keep grinding through it.

I'm saying the things I'm saying so we can all be realistic about what this team has accomplished. We came off from Memphis game with a terrific win. Then we lost against the team that is favored to win the NBA championship without Rodney Hood and George Hill, our starting backcourt. And then we came and played well for three quarters against Sacramento and then faltered.

So I don't even know where you start with kind of trying to analyze. I know we all have got to do it. That's why we're here and we've got another game. There's 82 of them, but at some point the conversation stops until we get a starting backcourt again, until we get some depth. As long as we're talking about Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson and Gordon Hayward having to guard 6'4'' guys. Those are three small forwards, literally 6'8'', 6'8'', 6'8'' and they're being asked... you know, we're playing Joe Ingles at the point some games.

So we just got to keep grinding, and we've got to be realistic with this group of players, that we don't beat them up for things that are almost virtually impossible for them to do. You know, it's just hard.

Gordon scored six in Golden State and then I think bounced back 28 points I believe in Sacramento. Do you believe in him bouncing back?

We're talking about Gordon Hayward as an All-Star and because he's played like an All-Star. So if he has a bad game against Golden State without George Hill and Rodney Hood, at some point we've got to recognize what Gordon's doing. You know Gordon's looking around going "Oh, he's out. Oh, who broke down the defense and did something to get something easy for me? Or do I have to do it again by myself and then do I get evaluated. Because I'm trying to beat two guys who are trapping me in pick and roll in the last six minutes of the game and we say, 'What about Gordon.'" Gordon's been unbelievable.

DeMar isn't playing without Kyle Lowry. That helps. You put another really good player especially a point guard... You know, what's our record with only one starter out? Anybody know? Forget having our whole team, that hasn't happened yet. With one starter out, we're like 10 and 2. So I mean, let's figure out what we're having to do without all the players we have. And evaluate the guys that we have based on that.

Because from what I can tell Gordon Hayward is not only having a great year, but he's dealing with some psychological challenges when you don't have a lot of help. If you've ever been in a situation in your life, where you are like "it's really hard." Has anyone asked you to lift 400 pounds and then said "Oh, you can't lift 400 pounds, you're not strong." You know, like, really, he's got a Volkswagen, and he's trying to lift it and there's no one on the other side. So he's doing great. Same with Rudy. Same with Rudy. Those guys have been terrific. I can't emphasize that enough. So, what else?

When you got this regular season grind going on, you got tough losses, game plans, all that. Is it tough for you to sit back on Christmas Day and actually enjoy yourself?

Yeah, I'm going to look up the chimney to see if Santa is coming down. Ask for more cookies.

Or some health?

Some milk. Nah, we're good. We're good. I mean I just, at some point we've gotta defend our players for what we're doing for this team to be 18 and 12 right now. It's remarkable. I mean, seriously. With the injuries that we've dealt with, and it's not just numbers, it's the people that have been out. You know, take a starting backcourt away from another team in the league. Go ahead. Try to figure out whether that team, how good they are.

So our players, it's nothing that I'm doing, it's just guys that are playing with a lot of grit. And I want to appreciate that. I want them to know what they're doing is appreciated.

You know, when Rudy steps to the line and makes one of two... I mean Rudy, last year there were times people were hacking Rudy at the end of the game. And Rudy's just been a monster. A monster! And people are worried about whether Rudy handles questions right. You know, whether he's being too forward, and all that. Part of me feels like Rudy can say whatever he wants, and then some, and I'll just say Rudy's right. Because he's playing so hard and so well.

I just got a ton of respect for our team and where we are. We can go get beat by playing the best offense in the league tonight. And Rodney is questionable. We may have Rodney, we may not. But we certainly aren't going to get Rodney at a 100% and we don't have Fav at 100%.

So, they just got to keep grinding, I've got to keep grinding. We've got to keep grinding, and you guys got to know what a special job these guys are doing. And they're working their tails off. So, Dennis and I talk about it all the time, all day. "Dang," you know? But no one's going to feel sorry for themselves. But we all have to be appreciative and realistic about what these guys are doing with what they have. That's Christmas.

Can you relax for one second and enjoy your day? That's what I mean, you're always thinking about the next game!

Get me at two in the morning after the film tonight. I've got kids at home. I go home and I'm so grateful. I'll go wrap some presents.

And a win tonight would probably help a little.

We had 18 of them, so. You know, what happens when you lose a tough game, especially a game at home, and a game that you really feel like you have a chance to win. Because your expectations shift, and then you look around and go, oh, he's out. We could have used that. The best thing these guys have done, and I've tried to lead them that way, is that no one's going to feel sorry for themselves. Because no one cares. They don't care. You know, we'll look at some data and say 'he's missed this many games.'

It's like being young. We've been good at being young. And trying to be young and get better. That's why Rudy's doing what he's doing. All these guys are salivating for George's leadership. If anything, if you look at anything, the other night against Sacramento, it's leadership on the floor. More of that. More of that. And we're going to get that.

So all I want for Christmas is a healthy team, right?

I like my team. You know, I like my team. Guys that are healthy, or not. That's the other thing, you guys. Look out there. Look at Alec Burks. Look at George Hill. Those guys are working their tails off to get back. Working hard, hard, hard. Alec's been out a year. Do you know what it's like to not be able to do what you love to do for a year? And to have to work through all of these challenges, to work through a surgery, and have someone run you over cones? He wants to play!

So, Merry Christmas, right? Merry, Merry. Happy Holidays.

Andy Larsen

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