Quin Snyder: D-League All-Star Coach


Quin Snyder

Quin Snyder has enough hair for all of us. It juts out from his forehead and temples like a peacock’s fan. He’s brimming with confidence.  You’d expect this from a man with a career winning percetange north of .600. But just a few seasons ago, he was forced into a messy resignation after a couple years of turmoil at the University of Missouri.

Other than hair, he’s also a man of pedigree. Coach Snyder played point for  the Blue Devils, assisted Larry Brown’s Clippers, and later served under Mike Krzyskewski at Duke.  By the time he arrived in Missouri, he was a man of peerless mentors. We can now add Gregg Popovich to that number. Mike Krzyzkewski, Larry Brown, Gregg Popovich. That’s a heady list from whom to learn.

As is often the case with this franchise, it’s not hard to fit Synder into the  Spurs story if one simply uses Larry Brown as a point of reference . You could establish six degrees between Larry Brown and the entire Association, so this should not  be too difficult. Mike Finger once rehearsed the history this way:

Even though Snyder grew up on the west coast and went to college in the east, he spent his summers living in Kansas at Buford’s house, working the Jayhawks’ summer basketball camps. And eventually, both would get a life-changing moment courtesy of then-KU coach Larry Brown.

In 1989, Buford received a spot on Brown’s staff when he took over the Spurs, a break that would lead to Buford becoming one of the NBA’s most respected general managers. As for Snyder? He married Brown’s daughter.

So with that shared history, Buford was excited last spring when the owner of the NBDL’s Austin Toros told him he was considering Snyder as the team’s new head coach. At the time, the Toros were still only an affiliate of the Spurs, so Buford had no authority to hire his old friend. But based partly on Buford’s recommendation, Snyder got the job, and when the Spurs bought the Toros this summer, Snyder was quickly brought into the franchise’s inner sanctum.

So Snyder is at the helm in Austin. He will coach today’s D-League All-Star game after leading the Toros to a 19-8 midseason record.

The Toros reached out to Snyder after his dissmissal from from Missouri and the unexpected death of then Toros coach Dennis Johnson.  Unlike Mike Brown, Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ferry, and Sam Presti, the Spurs offered Snyder a second chance, not a head start. The Spurs basketball family is rich with stories of success, but occasionally they throw their banner over those whom were dealt a bad hand along the way. In this case, Snyder is open about his part in letting things get out of control in Missouri. He was a young man at the time, and young men sometimes go running into the fray without knowing who the enemies are and where they might be hiding. But the Spurs organization, and the Toros in particular, were happy to bring him into their family, which may have been unexpected, but it was not entirely novel.

Last season, for example, they embraced Kelvin Sampson after his dissmissal from IU. This caught Henry Abbott’s attention:

Where do you go when you are bought out of your head coaching contract at Indiana University because of alleged recruiting violations?

To hang out with your friend Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News on the appearance of Kelvin Sampson:

Sampson, a friend of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s, has been in town observing the Spurs in games and practices this week. He and Popovich have known each other since serving together on George Karl’s Team USA staff at the 2002 FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis.

“He’s a buddy,” Popovich said. “He’s here and we’re having fun together, and learning from each other. I want him to look at us, and if he’s got a good suggestion, then great.”

Sampson, who was asked to step down at Indiana after the NCAA alleged five major recruiting violations, has an open-ended invitation to stick around with the Spurs for as long as he wants, Popovich said.

I can hear you thinking something like: but wait, the Spurs are the choirboys of the NBA! They are pristine and pure! They always dominate those “good guy” lists. Why would they be hanging around with a coach who is shrouded in ethical questions.

Sampson’s violations at IU flagrantly transgressed NCAA rules, but this was not the case with Snyder. There were accusations and the stink of probation, but the hit that sank his battleship was a general loss of control. It was a “chaotic” situation that culminated in an embarrassing losing skid. The wide-reaching vision of the Spurs for the Toros stretches beyond player prospects. They’ve also identified a top flight coaching prospect who, for this reason or that, missed an opportunity. I suspect that Snyder’s next coaching stop will be on an NBA bench. And I suspect that it’s Pop and Buford’s intention to eventually provide an assistant’s chair for Snyder in San Antonio.

  • http://www.freefranchiseinformationblog.com Tom Stanley

    I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

  • http://thebenturner.com benazona

    Love this post about Synder. I really think this guy is a diamond in the rough and that he caught a bad break at Missouri. I’d be happy to see him end up as an assistant with the Spurs, however, I’d DEFINITELY love to seem him take over the head coaching duties at my alma mater UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA! GO SPURS! GO CATS!

  • joe seely

    his name is quin snyder not quin synder. your editor should be shot for allowing this mistake to sully the entire article. even the responders have his name wrong. he coached me at camp when i was a yuongster growing up in saettle.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Graydon Gordian


    I appreciate your taking the time to edit our article. Although, if you are going to take such a sharp tone with us, you should take the time to abide by your own exacting standards. “Seattle” and “youngster” aren’t exactly tricky words to spell correctly. Also, in English, people often capitalize the word “I” and the first letters of sentences.

  • Kareem

    As a Lakers fan, I hate everything you stand for; but I respect your right to stand for it. Thank you for cutting down our friend Joe, Graydon, he did come off chippy.

    I am not a college sports fan much, and I know even less of the D-League; but a coach whose previous achievements include an organization’s “slide to chaos” does not reminisce the cold, calculated wolvarine, Papa Pop (I want to say Duvalier) and the Spurs empire. What makes him a good pick for this advancement, other than his shared propensity for hair? What coaching style has he embraced? And, as a Lakers fan, I want to know what deficiency the Spurs coaching staff has that needs augmentation (only so I can relish that weakness).


  • Joe Militello

    Quin didn’t marry Larry Brown’s daughter.

    That is not true.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner


    That bit was published in a San Antonio Express News piece by Mike Finger. I’m open to the possibility that that information is incorrect. Do you have information to the contrary? No animus. I ask sincerely.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    During the Toros-D-Fenders Futurecast tonight the color guys said that Snyder was Danny Ferry’s college roommate. Small world.

  • ThatBigGuy

    You know, if we had a defensive big man with a long range jump shot, all we would have to do is score 90 and we’d win. ‘Sheed could very well be the perfect fit. he could average 15/7 a game while alternating blocks with Timmy. His numbers would offset the lack of Manu’s. Plus, our interior defense would start reaching our previous championship levels. My dad always used to say “The first one to 90 points wins” in reference to Spurs games. Now it’s first one to 100 wins. Defense will get us back to the 90 point barrier again.

  • Jesse Seidman

    Based on his successes over the last two seasons in Austin, it’s clear that Snyder is one of the best coaches the D-League has ever seen. The Spurs have a knack for finding talented players – with Snyder’s hire, they have shown the ability to find talented coaches as well. Based on the traffic of players between Austin and San Antonio, Snyder might impact the Spur’s organization more from the Toros bench.

  • mizzutgr

    This missouri Tiger fan wishes that Quin returns to a head coach position. He just had to much to soon and didn’t handle it well. Now, several years later he might do a better job. Good luck Quin I wish you well.

  • Trailblazer

    Quin Snyder is an absolute enigma. He was a McDonald’s All-American, played at Duke, married Larry Brown’s daughter, has a law degree and MBA, and coached at Duke under Coach K. At 32, he became coach at Mizzou and led them to the NCAA’s each of his first four seasons on the job (not bad).

    Snyder is smart and his basketball pedigree is amazing. It could be he found too much success too early in life and a fall from grace is exactly what he needed. He may come out of this a little scarred but all the wiser. I think he makes an excellent coaching candidate at the pro or college level.

  • Cindy

    Was a scapegoat at Mizzou and a damn good coach!

  • chickie

    A minute’s success pays the failure of years.

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