Former Missouri coach Quin Snyder is a first-year assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers after previously spending time as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Snyder had a successful stint (94-56) with the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League after leaving Missouri, where he nearly led the Tigers to their first Final Four, losing the 2002 NCAA West Regional final to Oklahoma.
Q: How curious were you about yourself in terms of being able to coach in the NBA?
A: "There was a period where it's natural to wonder about some of the differences in the game and there's definitely an adjustment period. As far as my comfort level within the job, the thing that really agreed with me initially was the simplicity of just coaching. There was more time spent literally on basketball, and I enjoy that."
Do you feel you can impact a player's life as much in the NBA as in college?
"That's interesting. When I was in the D-League, some of them were NBA players who were assigned. Others were great college players at a point in their lives of trying to get somewhere. It was just basketball for them, too. They didn't have to go to class. As a college coach, frankly you're responsible for that. If somebody doesn't go to class, it's on you. If someone makes a mistake off the court, it's on you. In that regard, you don't have a chance to impact as many lives off the court (in pro ball), but in other ways you have an opportunity to do so on the court."
Did you have to prove yourself all over again as a coach?
"Once a player respects you and your knowledge of the game, then they're very open to being coached – and that's why they are where they are."
Presumably you want to be a head coach again, right?
"Any assistant anywhere would like an opportunity to be a head coach. If I do my job well, I figure whatever happens from there, happens. I'm not in a big hurry. It's not a goal in my mind all the time."
Are you a better coach now than at Missouri?
"Definitely I got better, but I think our record at Missouri speaks for itself. We had a lot of good years and won a lot of games, but those darn Sooners got us."
Have you crossed paths much with former OU coach Kelvin Sampson, now an assistant with the Houston Rockets?
"Yeah, I do. We've shared some things in many respects, mainly just coming from college to the NBA game. We probably like each other more now than back then. He and I got to be pretty close, even while we were in college. He was someone I learned a lot from. He was always very good to me … except during the games."