It’s been an incredible year for me and my family. I got married to Robyn. I signed to stay in Utah, and we settled into a new home. And now, our team is making its greatest addition ever.
Robyn is pregnant with a baby girl. She’s due to join us in mid-June.
I’m really excited about becoming a dad. We’re starting the next chapter of our lives together, and I’m ready for it. We found out that Robyn was pregnant a while ago, but we didn’t tell anybody because we wanted to make sure everything went well in the first trimester. She went for a checkup recently and everything looks good so far. Since Robyn is going to start showing soon, I figured now was as good a time as any to share the news with everyone.
As you can imagine, Robyn is very excited, too. She’s already turning a room into a nursery. Her pregnancy has been going well, though she was pretty sick through the first trimester, and really tired, too. It’s one of those things as a husband where you want to be able to do something, but there’s not much you can do. You just try to take care of her, and make sure you get her anything she wants or needs. The tough part is when I’m gone on the road, and there’s not anybody to take care of her at home. That’s been pretty difficult on her. We’ve got a puppy and a new house, and she’s been sick with the pregnancy.
I’ve been getting advice from any and everybody about the process. Fortunately, a lot of the guys and coaches on the team have kids, so they give you advice. It helps to be surrounded by a bunch of people that have been through it and can help. Guys on the team have wives who are also kind of by themselves when we go on the road, so sometimes, they hang out with Robyn and give her some company when I’m gone. We’ve also had both our moms fly out to help. It’s really great that we have such a good support system of family and friends to help us through this.
We’re both looking forward to the next several months of this journey.
COMMITMENT TO THE CRAFT
A big thank you to all of our Utah Jazz fans for sticking with us through the first half of the season. There have definitely been some exciting moments so far, and I think there are a lot more exciting ones to come.
We have a great group of guys here in Utah — guys who want to get better, and want to win.
We’ve been getting tighter as a unit as the season has gone on, and we’ve spent more time together. That has definitely helped us out.
We’ve been doing a lot of film work both at home and on the road. A lot of teams, when they go on a road trip and arrive in a new city, let the guys go for the night. But we usually have a quick film session to go over what we did well, and what we need to do better. That’s a tough thing to implement and get guys committed to, especially in this league. Guys want to do things in the city and don’t necessarily want to be watching film at night, but we take the time to do it.
I think it makes us a lot better.
There’s a lot of teaching that goes on in those sessions. Coach Snyder and his assistants break down how we need to guard things, what we did wrong in previous games and what we should have done. But it’s not a one way street. Guys will chime in during the session about what they’re seeing. We’ll have a discussion about things. It creates a dialogue that helps all of us communicate better.
As you become better acquainted and more bonded with your teammates, it becomes easier to critique each other. Everybody knows that your intentions are good. As a leader on this team, part of my job is to lead those conversations.
I feel comfortable doing that. There have been times where I’ve stopped practice and posed questions to my teammates. I’ll ask somebody what they thought of what they saw, and what everybody else was seeing. Coach has encouraged me to step up and do things like that. He feels that there’s a lot of value in hearing feedback from one of your peers — someone that’s in the same spot as you.
We’re trying to help each other become better players, and become better as a team. That’s the goal. Knowing that, everybody is more receptive to criticism. So in recent weeks, there has been a lot more pushing each other and holding each other accountable.
That translates in a lot of ways. The closer you become off the court, the more it feels like you’re out there on the court playing with guys who aren’t just your colleagues. They feel like your family, and you want to see each other succeed. It all goes into making us a better team.
Coach Snyder is also extremely detail-oriented in practice, and wants us to make sure we’re executing to perfection. His attention to detail in film sessions has us a lot more prepared. We leave each session knowing the details of our game plan for attacking and defending each team, and that helps you when you’re out there on the floor.
Our preparation has helped me out tremendously and I definitely feel like I’ve improved as a player from last year.
On the offensive end, I’m shooting the ball a lot better. Having a year of experience under my belt as one of the main guys on the team and the focal points for defenses has really helped me pick my spots better on the court. I know where I can get my shots, and how I can be more effective.
I believe my play on the defensive end has improved as well. To me, that’s a matter of staying focused throughout the entire game, playing consistently and being engaged in every single play. When you have a huge load offensively, you still have to make sure that you’re putting in just as much effort on defense. So I approach each game making an effort to start out strong on the defensive end, and get myself going from there.
The time we spend preparing comes into play there, because studying an opponent allows me to see when I might have an opportunity to be aggressive and look for a steal. It’s as much mental as it is physical. You learn not only from watching film, but then taking that knowledge, applying it to a game and learning through each contest as it goes on. If a team ran a play in the first quarter and they give you a similar look in the fourth, you can anticipate what they’re going to attempt to do. You can play a bit of a mind game. Cheat one way or disguise your coverage. Make them believe there’s something open when there really isn’t.
It’s all a matter of being a student of the game.
I always tend to play a lot better when I’m active on defense and get some rebounds, grab a couple steals or make some deflections. The offense usually comes on its own after that. Maybe it’s just the basketball gods rewarding me for playing well on defense. But it gives me a burst of energy, and the shots seem to fall on the other end.
I also think that, because of our offense and the way we’re playing and spacing the floor, I’m not being forced into as many end of shot clock situations, where I take a fade away right in front of the three-point line or a contested shot. So my percentages are better in that regard.
I’ve also added a bit of a floater into my game, which is something that I’m going have to work on even more. That could turn into a huge weapon for me.
As one of the guys who handles the ball in the pick-and-roll a lot, I’m able to get into the teeth of the defense. If I can hit that little floating jump shot, that leaner, it will really add a whole other dimension to my game. Coach Quin and our assistant coach, Johnnie Bryant, have been working with me on that, and I’ve started to incorporate it. With more work, it will get better as the season goes on.
All of that said, there also still a lot of room for improvement. There’s a long way to go. But I feel like I’m on the right track and making progress, and I can definitely say the same for our team.