(Courtesy of the Salt Lake City Stars) Martin Schiller, the next head coach of the Salt Lake City Stars.
The Salt Lake City Stars, in their inaugural season in Utah, slogged through a 14-36 record. Taylor, a 6-foot-5 guard who has bounced through numerous pro leagues for almost a decade, saw a locker room that wasn’t playing with much passion.
It’s early — but already, Taylor, one of only two returning players on the roster, feels a bit of a change in the locker room energy.
“We wake up every morning, and we’re basketball players,” said Taylor, 30. “When you come to an environment that reminds you that’s your job, you can’t be anything but happy.”
There have been a lot of changes in Year 2 for the Stars: a new team president, a new coach and a mostly new roster. And it’s hard to project how any team will perform in the G League, where roster upheaval is the nature of the business.
“He’s doing a real good job of getting us back to loving the game, getting excited to be a basketball player and to be with the Stars,” Taylor said.
Schiller, 35, comes to Utah by way of the German Budesliga and the the German national team as an assistant. This is his first head coaching job, but he said he has already adapted to living in Utah and meshing with the Jazz organization.
He’s got a lot to work with on his roster, assuming it stays intact: Jazz first-round pick Tony Bradley played in the preseason debut, and two-way players Nate Wolters and Eric Griffin had the benefit of attending training camp with the Jazz.
The Stars also have mined the college ranks for talent through Jazz signings and the G League draft: Clemson’s Sidy Djitte, Iowa State’s Naz Mitrou-Long and Arizona State’s Torian Graham are some of the new faces on the roster.
Schiller said beyond player development, which is the Stars’ overarching goal, the team will aim to play with aggressive, energetic defense and ball movement on offense. In the first preseason game, the defense was solid, but he felt the Stars lacked organization on the attack.
“We’ve got a lot of work cut out, but that’s the goal,” he said. “Play the Jazz way and develop the players we have in order to set them up for a possible call-up.”
Among the Stars players is guard L.J. Rose, who won a spot on the roster through a local tryout. A former BYU Cougar, Rose said he’s looking forward to getting a shot in the pros stateside, as well as trying to grow the franchise in the Salt Lake Valley.