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When reflecting on the first practice of training camp Tuesday, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder used the word as an all-encompassing tool. If his team is to see the progress he hopes for over the first week, connectivity has to be a buzz word, a theme.
The offense has to be connected to the defense. Good defense has to lead to good offense. The offense has to be better and quicker in transition. Without better defensive rebounding, the offense can't get out in transition and do its thing.
Snyder preached all of those points to his team. He talked about concepts on both ends of the floor. And then, the Jazz went out and had, what George Hill called, an "intense" practice.
"In some respects, we're farther along because we've done this [training camp] for a few years now," Snyder said. "But we also have some new guys and some new challenges. Some of the new guys have been there, but there's always some dusting off when you haven't done something before. Some of the excitement and some of the enthusiasm for the season, you have to back up. The only way to get to that part is to do the mundane."
The Jazz are expected to practice twice daily this week, leading up to next Monday's preseason opener at Portland . Until that time, Utah's competition will be internal.
Snyder would like to see his team play at a faster pace this season, especially with the added depth. Added pace means added possessions, which leads to added depth coming more into play, which Snyder hopes can lead to his team wearing the opposition down when it matters.
As such, much of the scrimmage portion of Tuesday's morning practice was played with a 14 second shot clock, instead of the normal 24 second clock. That forced quicker tempo and reactions from his team. Snyder said he wants to run more initial pick-and-roll sets out of transition, and forcing his team to shoot the ball within 14 seconds was a way to get the players into that mindset.
"Overall, it was a good practice, it was very intense throughout," Hill said. "There were a lot of mental aspects that we had to get down, a lot of concepts. It was pretty fun to be a part of."
A good morning
When talking about Dante Exum, coaches and teammates didn't sound like they were speaking about a guy who had just come off an injury.
Or as Snyder said, "I don't look at him as an injured player. I look at him as a player."
The general consensus says that Exum's burst off the dribble, his athleticism, his movements, are all back to its pre-injury form. Exum practiced and scrimmaged without limitation, consistently going against Hill on separate teams.
"It's feeling good," Exum said. "I came out and played strong. I was really excited to get that first full practice out of the way in I don't know how long. So I was just excited to get back out there."
This preseason isn't going to be as taxing as previous exhibition schedules. The Jazz play six games against three teams in the first three weeks of October, and have two sets of five day breaks between games. In the past, the preseason has typically been eight games. Utah will face the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns twice each.
It marks the first time the Jazz have played fewer than seven games since the 1979-80 the team's first season on Utah.
Two-time Jazzman Mo Williams retired on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old point guard informed the Cleveland Cavaliers he was calling it a career after 13 seasons.
A second-round Jazz draft pick in 2003, Williams had two different stints in Utah, playing his rookie season here before being traded to Milwaukee in 2004. He returned to the Jazz for the 2012-13 season, playing in 46 games and averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 assists per game.