Rodney is patient and polite in the Utah locker room, assaulted by the media crowd after a pretty solid game against Golden State: 12 points in 23 minutes in a losing effort. He speaks quietly, but highly about Duke every time the topic is brought up. He had a lone season in Durham, but a pretty good one in 2013-14: 19.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds for a Blue Devils team that went 26-9, losing the ACC Championship Game to Virginia in an heartbreaker.
“Yeah, at Duke you are always in the spotlight, you deal with pressure and expectations, so those habits now help me a little bit to adjust to my first playoff experience. But the NBA game is very different from college. In terms of spacing and quality of players”.
In the previous playoff round, against the Clippers, Hood had to face and sometimes guard JJ Redick and Austin Rivers.
“Well, it wasn’t too weird because I didn’t play at Duke while they did. But they are guys I really watched (At Duke). JJ is probably one of the best college players of all time. And Austin played just before I got there and had a pretty good season. It was fun playing against these guys. I respect them a lot. Everywhere we go (with the Jazz) any team we face seems to have at least one Duke guy (on the roster). We always say “what’s up” and talk about things. Then we go back (to Durham) in the summer and see each other so there is definitely a brootherhood, something I cherish”.
The post season series win against Los Angeles was the first one for many young Jazz players: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Hood….
Says Coach Snyder - “It was big to beat the Clippers, confidence wise. We could focus mainly on Paul, he was “the guy” for that team, but now in the Warriors we face a team that has so many options,They were fresher than us in game one, we had just one day to prepare for Golden State. We can get better. I've known Rodney since he played at Mississippi State and then at Duke. He got better step by step steadily. And of course that continued in these 3 years playing for me with the Jazz. It’s just a natural progression – confirms Hood – and then playoff series like this make you better”.
Coach Snyder spoke highly about his player, so to make it fair we had to ask Hood about his Coach:
“You want to know about similarities and differences between Snyder and Coach K? Well, attention to detail is a common trait. And neither take days off. And they always bring energy and Intensity. In terms of X&O”s they're different coaches, and the level of play is different, but they both have and ask for intensity ”.
Hood is now a proud Duke Alum but also one of Meridian Mississippi's finest:
“I watched Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson playing on TV growing up, I’m now proud to represent my State in the NBA. It’s huge for me. Not many guys from there make it. What my parents told me when I transferred from Mississippi State to Duke? They supported me. That’s what you do when you're a parent. You support your kids decisions”
And it worked pretty well: he got selected in the first round of the 2014 Draft (23rd overall by Utah)
Duke was a topic that came up not only in the Jazz locker room, but also in the conference room at Oracle Area. Interim Warriors Coach, Mike Brown had Quin Snyder as assistant during the 2011-2012 NBA season when he was the Lakers head coach.
“Quin is a great guy, great family. I have a lot of respect for him. The tie that we had together was Danny Ferry. Danny and Quin are close. Danny introduced me to Quin and when I got the Lakers job I got a chance to talk to him.” So the Duke brotherhood Rodney talked about, seems to work not only among former Duke players in the NBA but in terms of coaching too. One thing is sure: Coach Snyder bleeds Duke Blue.
Did Coach K inspire Quin in any way?
“I spent 4 years playing for him, when I was 18, making 3 Finals Fours, and eventually another seven years as one of his assistant coaches . So the way he influenced me goes well beyond coaching basketball. I almost spent half of my life around him, but yeah, communication and relationships with players are two of his coaching traits that go beyond X's and O’s that I took as an inspiration. There is always need of communication for a basketball team, and you have to be precise and sincere when you talk with your players”.
K's advise seems to have served Snyder well: He is a Coach of the Year candidate.
Riccardo Pratesi - Staff