CHICAGO — Quin Snyder’s pregame interview, mandated by the NBA to start an hour and 40 minutes before tipoff, came at an inconvenient time Saturday night.
Not that he doesn’t love the media — what’s not to love!? — but Snyder would have preferred to be in the visiting coaches’ office focusing on another basketball game.
Northwestern and Gonzaga were playing, and Snyder had a rooting interest in the game.
Chris Collins, the coach who led Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid, used to play for Snyder when the Jazz coach was an assistant at Duke in the 1990s.
Snyder only half-jokingly told media members he was hoping to hurry to get back to the TV. He left the game to fulfill his coaching interview responsibilities with 2:01 remaining in the game and the rallying Wildcats trailing No. 1 seed Gonzaga by seven points.
“I want to finish this up,” Snyder said, “so I can go watch him.”
Snyder was Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s assistant from 1993-99, and got to know Collins well while the son of Doug Collins played for the Blue Devils from 1992-96.
Snyder’s assessment of the younger Collins’ job at the Chicago-based university?
“Terrific. Terrific, and not surprising,” Snyder said. “It’s exciting to see what they’re doing. His dad Doug and I are close. The fact that it’s in Salt Lake is ironic, but we’re hoping they pull it out.”
Unfortunately for Collins and his coaching fan, Northwestern couldn’t quite pull off the comeback at Vivint Arena, falling to the Zags 79-73. The interview ended in time for Snyder to catch the final half minute of action, by the way.
FORCED REST: Like other teams, the Jazz aren’t afraid to use occasional rest days to help players stay fresh. Snyder even considered resting most of his starters when the team played in Cleveland on Thursday. Derrick Favors (knee) didn’t dress that game, but Utah thought about resting Rodney Hood, who left with knee soreness anyway, along with Rudy Gobert (calf soreness) and George Hill (big toe soreness).
“The question you have to ask is do you want to play Gordon (Hayward) with four starters out. It didn’t happen, but that thought process is kind of ongoing,” Snyder said. “We haven’t been able to do it. Ironically, (veterans) Joe and Boris (Diaw) have been our ironmen.”
Snyder didn’t specify whether he meant Joe Ingles or Joe Johnson, but those two and Diaw have each played 60-plus games this season.
TOURNEY TIME: Snyder, now in his third season as the Jazz’s head coach, loves being a bench boss in the NBA, but he admitted that he’s envious of his collegiate colleagues during March Madness. Snyder got a taste of that as the Missouri coach from 1999-2006.
“This is a time of year, the one time, that I miss being a college coach,” Snyder said. “The others (times of year), I’m OK. The NCAA is terrific even.”
Snyder played in three Final Fours with Duke. His Missouri team reached the NCAA Tournament in his first four seasons but didn’t make it back in the ensuing three years.