Interview: Kirk Snyder Part 1

Interview: Kirk Snyder  Part 1
May 08, 2004, 01:00 am
Jonathan Givony: Hi Kirk, you're in San Antonio right now, so what have you been up to today?

Kirk Snyder: Yeah I had a workout earlier, actually I had two, I had a double day today.

Givony: What kind of workouts we talking about? Strength, shoot-arounds?

Snyder: Well, I'm a pretty strong guy, for the most part we are working on a lot of skill things that you need to be able to do at the next level. Just trying to master those things, mostly stuff that I haven't been introduced to for the NBA.


Givony: I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the NCAA tournament, that's probably a good memory for you no?

Snyder: Kind of a bitter sweet memory.

Givony: Well, you guys did great there Kirk, a lot better then almost anyone expected. The way you played in particular sold a lot of people on yourself as a player. You have no idea how many fans you made just because of those first two games, which were in my opinion two of the best games in the entire tournament.

Snyder: Oh man. That means a lot. But that's what it's about, big time games, you gotta play really aggressive, trying to make big things happen.

Givony: So honestly, what was going through your head in that Michigan State game, you guys came back from being down by 16 points, you held them to one field goal in the final 7 minutes. What were you thinking about as that happened?

Snyder: Yeah, you do think about things. Honestly, everything flashes before you at that point. All the hard work you put in, when you start thinking about those things, in the 2nd half of the game, that's what makes it worthwhile to step it up. You think about all the hard work you put in with your teammates, you look at your guys, we've all come a long way. To be honest with you, we just wanted to leave it all out there. They did a really good job in the first half, especially on me, they are a pretty good defensive team. They are the best defensive team we've played all year. In terms of getting out after me, and making me uncomfortable. I kind of dictate how the game is going to be for our team offensively most of the time, they did a really good job. It was real tough, luckily we came off with that W man (laughs). I think that was the single toughest game we had this year.

Givony: Hey well Tom Izzo doesn't mess around, that's what his teams are known for, tough physical basketball. You look at him, he's kind of a scary guy when he is screaming at the top of his lungs, no?

Snyder: (laughs) He's not so scary when you are right next to him, though. He's not scary to me at least.

Givony: How do you think his players take that stuff? I don't know how I would take Kirk, he really gets on his players. I heard that Erazem Lorbek left because of that.

Snyder: Oh, you gotta take that though Jonathan. That's a part of basketball man! Most people think it's easy, but it's mentally tough and it's physically tough. That's how it's supposed to be. That's the game of basketball. That's the nature of the game. You can go out and shoot jumpers and have fun with your friends, but when you really compete you know that the coaches are out there competing with each other, the players are competing. That's what coaches are for, to challenge their players and to teach them the game of basketball.


Givony: So during a game did you ever think to yourself, I really need to step it up now, a lot of people are watching, the scouts are watching, I need to leave a good impression. Did that ever run through your mind?

Snyder: Oh sure. The scouts are in the stands and you want to play as hard as you can. You want to make sure that you put your best effort in, so you don't go away from the game thinking that you didn't play hard enough. Because that's what I do, I play hard. If scouts like that, if they are attracted to that, then I'm the player for them. I really didn't worry about the assessment scouts would make of me, I didn't think about that. I just tried to give the maximum effort and play my best. You can't put all that pressure on yourself. That can be really overwhelming.

Givony: You've developed quite a reputation in college as being a talker on the court, in fact in a WAC poll after your sophomore season you were voted the leagues top trash talker by your fellow WAC players, do you intend on toning it down a bit at the next level or is talking an inseparable part of your game?

Snyder: Well, my first two years in college when I first came in, I wasn't really secure with my basketball skills, it was more my sophomore year where I did most of the talking. I reached a point in my life where I loved to play basketball and I just really wanted to be special. I was taking shots verbally at players, you know trash talking and all that stuff. People got used to thinking that that's the way I am, but that's not what I'm like. The year before I did a lot of talking, but this year I hardly ever talked, because I just didn't have to anymore. I'm not a trash talker.

Givony: Well I guess that once you back it up, then you don't have to talk anymore, your game speaks for itself.

Snyder: Yeah, it doesn't even matter. You don't even need to talk. I was at the weaker stages of my career at that point, in terms of being confident in myself, being able to go to sleep with myself every night. Just being happy with my effort. It was real hard my sophomore year. But my junior year, it was like this light turned on, and I became a much more complete player, and then I was a lot more at ease with myself. That let me put my energies into more important things, like making that next basket or motivating my teammates. I think that my sophomore year I did take away from the team in the sense that there were some situations where I could have helped my team win more games. We still ended up going to the NIT, but we could have done a lot better that year.

Givony: So who are some of the better players you have matched up with in the NCAA?

Snyder: Oh man, let's not(laughs) I come from an area in high school that is a pretty talented area, so I don't want toLet's just say I've played against pretty much the best of the best in the NCAA.


Givony: OK so how about I throw out some names and you tell me a little bit about what it's like to play against them. Ben Gordon. Did you guard him?

Snyder: No I didn't guard him, I was guarding Denham Brown for the most part, but he (Gordon) was really tough to keep an eye on, he did a great job of running around picks and stuff like that, making things tough on us, we had to chase him around a lot. He's strong, I remember in the beginning of the game he knocked into one of my guys on accident, hit him in the mouth, and the guy just started bleeding everywhere, I thought to myself that this guy must be a really strong dude to do something like that. When you get on the court with him he doesn't look as fast and as strong as he really is. He surprises you with that.

Givony: Does he remind you of Baron Davis at all?

Snyder: Naa, I think Baron is on a totally different level, he's a true PG. I've played him in pickup games and I've seen him play a lot and he's different because he gets other people involved and he's a lot bigger too. I don't know if he's stronger, you'd have to ask him about that.

Givony: Emeka Okafor. What was it like going up in the lane against him? Did he block any of your shots? What was that like?

Snyder: That game was fun. It was early on in the season, like the second game and we had been working hard all summer. We found out that physically we could do it, and mentally too. It was so unfortunate that one guy (Ben Gordon) caught on fire like that, and he didn't stop. Okafor? We got him in foul trouble a little bit, I went to the basket a couple of times and did some crafty things in the air, he had to sit out a big part of the game because of foul trouble. But they had a great backup in Boone, so there really wasn't that big of a drop off. My goal was to go at him (Okafor) and make him jump because I know that he's a shot blocker and I'm a pretty big guy, pretty explosive, so I know that I can get up in the air a little bit. When I saw that he tried to block my shot, I just changed hands and laid it up with the other hand and used my body to shield him, that kind of thing. He had a great supporting cast though. So many guys they can throw at you.

Givony: So what were the deciding factors in you going pro, what were some of the things you were thinking about and how tough of a decision was it?

Snyder: Oh man, coming from the Sweet 16 and seeing how the NCAA treats you, getting a taste of the kind of people that come out to watch the games, it made it really really hard. It's not the type of thing you can just say yes or no, I really had to weigh the pros and cons-- it was a tough decision. It came down to getting better as a basketball player and as a person and trying to grow as much as you can. You reach a point in basketball where you can't really grow that much more, and I think this is an opportunity for me to improve because I've matured really fast in the NCAA and I know I'm ready for the next level.

Things going through my mind? Am I ready for the nature of the league? Playing with them night in night out, all of them it's going to be tough. You need to really really really really accept that. Understand that.

Givony: So it wasn't a situation where you said to yourself, OK if I do really well here in the tournament I'm going to throw my name in the draft?

Snyder: No, it wasn't like that at all. It's funny you say that because sometimes you think what if, what if we didn't beat Michigan St? I think things happen for a reason and that was part of what I made my decision off, how far we went, all that type of stuff. It's just good to put yourself in the position to make that type of decision, where you have the chance to make a decision like that.

Givony: There was a lot of noise after the tournament, with your coach saying how people were going to try to get in your ear and how you shouldn't come out if you aren't guaranteed to be a top 15 pick. Did that have any effect at all?

Snyder: No. What people said to me didn't really matter all that much. This might not sound too professional, but it really comes down to what you feel in your heart, being secure with your talent, being up front with yourself. None of this stuff is guaranteed. Sometimes people aren't too objective when they are judging themselves. I've been very critical with myself my whole life, throughout my career. I had a gut feeling of what I needed to do, and I had to block out all the other things, like people speculating about what I need to do because they don't always know what's going on.

Givony: So how was your relationship with Coach Johnson over the past 3 years?

Snyder: It's funny you ask that, I just called him right now before I called you. I actually call him every week just to talk to him and everything. It's funny now because we have a different relationship, usually it was a player-coach relationship, he needed to tell me how to get guys going. Now our relationship is changing, all the relationships I have off the basketball court are changing, it's something I need to get used to. As far as him, he's a friend, he's a really good person and he's been very important in all the success I've had so far.


Givony: So what's your strategy leading up to the draft? Are you going to be playing in Chicago or are you just going to be working out for teams privately?

Snyder: Yeah pretty much I'll just be doing workouts for teams, my agent is going to schedule some things, and I'm just going to go down there and play. I'm not going to be playing in the Chicago draft camp itself, I'll just go down to do all the tests and stuff and see how it goes from there.

Givony: Last year, Dwayne Wade worked out for nearly every team in the lottery and really elevated his stock by outplaying all of the other guards he worked out with, do you have the same confidence in your skills to expose yourself to that kind of scrutiny or are you going to workout selectively and let your career at Nevada speak for itself?

Snyder: I'll work out for 7-8 teams and hopefully I'll be able to go in and show them some work ethic and leave no doubt in their mind about what kind of player I am.

Givony: We have you ranked right now going 18th to New Orleans. How would that suit you?

Snyder: Oh man, that would be a really good situation. Just to be able to play with a guy like Baron would be great. Magloire, David West and all the other guys going down the list, they have a pretty good team. Whatever team I go to I'll be playing hard and try to be a good teammate.

Givony: I've got to watch quite a few games of yours this year and it seems like you played a good amount of PG for Nevada. Can you see yourself playing a role like Marquis Daniels is this year for Dallas, kind of like a 2nd point guard, having the ball in your hands a lot, that type of thing?

Snyder: You know what, I don't know how these guys are going to be moving out there, but I am pretty convinced that I will be able to play the 1-3 spots. It will come down to whatever spot I can guard, because if you can check a 1 then you can play the 1. Offensively I can do that, but it's about defense because you have some jets out there, guys like Stephan Marbury, that's not going to be easy.

Givony: So can you see yourself next year checking a guy like Marbury, Jason Kidd or Gilbert Arenas? Can you imagine that?

Snyder: No (laughs) I'm not going to lie to you, no. Those guys are proven, they can move. Watch Jason Kidd run up and down the court--as soon as he gets the ball, he's gone--he's not going to wait, he's not taking his time or anything. That will be a challenge right there, that's what I'm working on right now, all these intangibles, the little things we're talking about. Putting myself in a position to learn new things that I'm not familiar with and having them stick.

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