Six consecutive postseason appearances, four trips to the NCAA Tournament and a berth into the Elite Eight ... that's Mizzou basketball under the direction of seventh year head coach Quin Snyder.
Initially brought to campus as one the nation's top young teachers of the game, Snyder has evolved into a Big 12 Conference elder statesmen and ranks fifth in League-wide coaching tenure behind Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton (16th season), Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson (12th season), Colorado's Ricardo Patton (11th season) and Texas' Rick Barnes (eighth season). Already fourth in career victories at Mizzou, Snyder was the fastest coach in school history to eclipse the 100-win plateau (just five seasons) and his average of 19-plus wins per season (19.3) is second at a nationally-renowned program celebrating its centennial year of intercollegiate basketball.
Now, as the Tigers prepare for their second season at Mizzou Arena, Snyder and his staff will call upon that past experience and success to lead this young, exciting core (just two seniors) of players through the rigors of the Big 12 Conference play and back to postseason glory.
This season, the 38-year-old sideline boss will utilize seniors Jimmy McKinney and Kevin Young to lead his young squad. Members on Mizzou's NCAA Tournament squad in 2002-03, both veterans have been fixtures in the line-up each of the past three seasons and bring the experience of having made three tours of duty through the Conference. Add exciting junior Thomas Gardner (10.4 ppg) and sophomore Jason Horton (103 assists) to the mix and you can see why a quiet confidence circulates around the Mizzou camp this season.
Given the success and excitement Snyder's squads have generated over his six years, it's no surprise that Tiger fans are once again looking for big things in 2005-06. Last season, Mizzou returned to postseason play thanks to a 14-5 home ledger in its initial campaign at Mizzou Arena. Paced by NBA first round draft pick Linas Kleiza and senior Jason Conley, the Tigers toppled six teams headed for NCAA Tournament glory and went a perfect 3-0 at home vs. Top-20 foes Kansas (No. 7), Oklahoma (No. 16) and Gonzaga (No. 12).
In 2003-04, Snyder led the Tigers to wins over Top 20 teams such as Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. He also saw his second recruiting class of Arthur Johnson, Rickey Paulding, Travon Bryant and Josh Kroenke complete outstanding careers, with Johnson and Paulding both jumping into the Top 10 on the Tiger scoring charts. Johnson also finished his career as the Tigers' all-time leader in blocked shots and rebounds. That outstanding class finished its career having played in the most NCAA Tournament contests of any class in school history with eight.
The 2002-2003 season was an exciting one for Snyder's squad. Capped by a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the team was pleased with its success but remained hungry for more. Despite a nine-point, overtime defeat to Final Four-bound Marquette, the Tigers showed tremendous character throughout a season which saw them finish with 22 wins and the program's 21st appearance in the "Big Dance". The Tigers advanced to the second round after a hard-fought 72-71 victory over Southern Illinois. Coming off a superior run to the finals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament, the Tigers had little time to rest before taking on the Salukis, but were able to prevail and continue their push through the NCAA's.
The achievements of Snyder's third season prepared the 2002-2003 squad well, seasoning them with experience in the NCAA Tournament. In 2001-2002, the Tigers came just six points shy of reaching Missouri's first ever Final Four. Mizzou fans across the nation watched with joy as the squad came together, watching as the Tigers toppled Miami in a decisive 93-80 win in the opening round, and advanced to the second round to go up against the Buckeyes of Ohio State.
Snyder had prepared his team well for the battle and they were ready to attack with the opening tip. Out-rebounding Ohio State 52-28 and racking up double figures in the scoring column for four Tigers, Mizzou grabbed an 83-76 win and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1994.
The regional semifinal round saw the Tigers venture to California to go head to head with the UCLA Bruins. Determined and ready, Snyder led his troops to another victory, as Missouri defeated the Bruins 82-73. With the win, Snyder had accomplished something never before done. He took a number 12 seed team to the Elite Eight for the first time in NCAA history.
Despite the fact that the road ended with an 81-75 loss to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight, it was already clear that a transformation had taken place at Mizzou. In only his third year at the helm, Quin Snyder had taken a team of youngsters farther than any other Missouri Basketball team had gone in eight years.
Snyder's second season had made it clear that the horizon for Missouri Basketball was a bright one. Making it to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row, Snyder led the Tigers to an exciting 70-68 first round win over Georgia and into a second-round match-up against the eventual National Champion Duke Blue Devils. The contest was an emotional one for Snyder, who was coaching against his mentor, Blue Devil Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Fighting valiantly, Mizzou trailed by as little as one point with just 10 minutes remaining in the game. Despite losing the game in a 94-81 defeat at the hands of the Devils, Snyder and his team walked away from the team having won the respect of all that witnessed it.
The fire, passion, and toughness that Snyder has instilled in his young Tiger squad since his first day, five years ago, continues to burn and inspire them to reach higher and farther. In his first year as a head coach, Snyder took a young, outsized Tiger squad and taught them to play an exciting, fast-tempo brand of ball that resulted in an 18-13 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance, all while playing against one of the nation's toughest schedules.
The excitement permeated Tiger fans, as evidenced by record crowds at the Hearnes Center. The nation also took notice of Snyder's efforts, as he was named National Rookie Coach-of-the-Year by Basketball Times.
What Snyder and his Tigers accomplished during the 1999-2000 season was nothing short of amazing. With just one senior contributor on a roster that had only one player stand taller than 6-foot-9, Missouri took the court night-in and night-out as the younger and smaller team.
But the Tigers, led by All-Big 12 guards Keyon Dooling and Clarence Gilbert and Big 12 co-Freshman-of-the-Year Kareem Rush, fought each foe to the end, and helped make Snyder the winningest first-year coach in school history. Snyder's 18th win broke the old mark of 17 for coaches in their first year at MU, a feat which had been accomplished twice - but not since the 1920-21 season, when Craig Ruby guided MU to a 17-1 mark and the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
On April 7, 1999, the University of Missouri ushered in an exciting new era when Director of Athletics Michael Alden introduced Snyder as men's head basketball coach.
Snyder, an assistant coach at Duke University the previous five years, became the 15th head basketball coach in Mizzou history, and just the fifth since 1926. He succeeded Norm Stewart, who stepped down from the position following the 1998-99 season, after 32 years on the job.
Snyder's mission is to take the Tiger program to the next level. And if that next level represents the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, Snyder will be a repeat visitor. In 10 years at Duke, he took part in five Final Fours - three as a player (1986, 88, 89) and two more as a coach (1994, 99).
Snyder had served as Duke's associate head coach from 1997 to 1999, and was entrusted with numerous on-court coaching responsibilities, as well as recruiting duties for the Blue Devils by Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. He was widely credited with recruiting the group of student-athletes (including 1999 national player-of-the-year Elton Brand) at Duke who compiled a 37-2 record during the 1998-99 season and finished as NCAA runners-up.
Snyder was a key figure in building the foundation that now has Duke's program firmly ensconced among the nation's elite. During his playing days (1986-89), the Blue Devils reached three Final Fours (1986, 88, 89), and won two Atlantic Coast Conference championships (1986, 88). He was named to the all-ACC Tournament team in 1988 and served as a team co-captain his senior year. He still ranks third on Duke's all-time career assists chart with 575.
During his college career, Snyder proved to be just as successful in the classroom, as he was named to the ACC Honor Roll three times and twice won the team's coveted Deryl Hart Academic Award. He was also named GTE/Co-SIDA Academic All-America in 1989.
Upon graduation from Duke in 1989, Snyder attended training camp with the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association. Rather than seek an opportunity in professional basketball, he elected to return to Duke to pursue other interests. Following a year with the Duke University Management Company, Snyder entered the Duke Law School, which he attended for a year before enrolling in Duke's Fuqua School of Business as well. It was during this year in which he played for the Raleigh Bullfrogs of the Global Basketball Association.
After completing a year of both business and law school, Snyder took a year off from school in order to serve as the assistant coach for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. With the Clippers, Snyder served as a bench coach and was responsible for Western Conference advance scouting. In addition, Snyder assisted the player personnel staff with player evaluation and draft analysis and assisted with the development of the playbook software Basketball Replay from ReActionWare.
After the NBA, Snyder returned to his alma mater, where he served as an administrative assistant coach for the Blue Devils' team from 1993-95, while doubling as a graduate student. He received his J.D./M.B.A. in 1995.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Snyder, 37, attended Mercer Island High School in the state of Washington. A two-time state player of the year, Snyder led the team to the 1985 state championship. During this time Mercer Island achieved a No. 1 ranking in USA Today's high school polls. Snyder was named a McDonald's All-America player, being the first ever chosen from the state of Washington.
Snyder is the proud father of a son, Owen, who was born December 25, 2002.
Big 12 Regular Season 53-43
Big 12 Tournament 8-6
NCAA Tournament 5-4
vs. AP Top 25 17-42
vs. Big 12 North 37-24
vs. Big 12 South 17-20