Since she was promoted to associate head coach last week, Spurs Up Blog thought it was a perfect time to get to know a little more about women's basketball's Lisa Boyer.What were your first thoughts when you heard about your promotion? Is it something you were hoping for or expecting?
It's something we had discussed previously, but it was a very nice surprise because I didn't know it was happening. We had discussed it, but we hadn't determined that it was going to happen or when it was going to happen.Do you see your role changing this season with your new title?
I don't think anything is going to change. I've been with [Coach Staley] for a long time, and the responsibility factor isn't going to change. I don't think anything is going to change, really. I think it's nice to have that title, and I'm very appreciative to her for giving me that title. Dawn and I have worked so closely together that I think I know what makes her tick and what ticks her off. We're pretty similar philosophically, especially on the court. It's important that she has people around her that believe in her vision, and I'm willing to promote that.As you said in the press release about your promotion, you've been Coach Staley's head coach, you're friends and you've been a member of her staff. In which of those roles is it easiest to deal with her?
Definitely not her playing for me [laughing]. No, that's not true. She was great. Most times, when you have a friendship, that's the foundation. There are times we have to separate that. There are times when it's business and we each have to have some thick skin. There are some things that happen in the business side of it that aren't personal. But, I know that if I really needed her for something personally that she would be there no matter what was going on at work, and vice versa. Most friendships are the easiest.Anyone sitting around the bench area during a game might wonder about that friendship when you two exchange words. Have you always had that type of friendship, or did it take time to develop that, to use your words, "thick skin" to separate work and friendship?
We can do that mostly because I know her. I know what's going on with her in the heat of the battle. It is NOT personal, not with the kids or with the staff. It's all about trying to put our best foot forward and win that game. In retrospect, I get a little heated myself. I'm as competitive as she is. So, I can't worry about that dynamic. That's the least important dynamic that's going on at the time. The most important thing is what's happening on the floor and the relationship with the kids and what's going on with that. Because I've been around her so long, I'm always trying to balance her, especially with the players. It also helps, not just my set of eyes, but all the coaches on what's going on in the game. A lot of times Dawn is watching a specific thing, but I try to see all of it - if a kid is injured or tired. Dawn might not see that because it's away from the ball. I try to see all that. It's not rocket science, but it's just watching it. So, sometimes we have some heated exchanges because we don't always agree. But, at the end of the day, it's her team.Coach Staley is a very public figure, so everyone feels like they know her pretty well. What do you know about her that maybe people don't immediately see or sense?
Dawn is an icon. She's approachable to the general public asking for an autograph or a photo. But, in a smaller population, Dawn can be perceived as being not as approachable. She's not like that at all. She's very gregarious, very funny, very laid back. But, there is an intimidation factor there because of her notoriety So, you'll have people who will come up to her on the street to ask for her autograph or a photo, and she always does those things, probably because of her upbringing in USA Basketball. But, if you get in a room, in a recruiting situation and there are 300-400 coaches in there, I don't know that younger coaches come up to talk to her because they're thinking 'Oh, that's Dawn Staley.' But, if they did, it would be fine. You've coached in both college and the pros. What are the biggest differences in the two environments?
At the pro level, it's all X's and O's. You have interaction with them as players, but they come to work and go home. They have their own lives. Here, you have an impact on their lives 24/7. It's not just a matter of what happens on the floor. We're talking about them in the classroom, what they're doing in their off time, what's going on with their families. We know a lot about them personally. It's their age, too. They're here when they're 17 to 22 [years old], and you have a huge, huge impact on them. It's more of a growth thing, not just as a player. That's a very small part of it, when you think about it. At the end of the day, when they graduate, they're adults.What is the thing you most want your players to have learned from you when they graduate and leave your program?
I hope some of the things they get from our program are that there are no short cuts, that hard work has to be done every day and that you've got to be willing to put in the time if you want to get things back out of life. Sometimes as athletes, they've been catered to and they've had a lot of success. As they go out in the world, there might be some things that they have to overcome. I hope that they've got the discipline and dedication and some kind of confidence that they will get through it, come out on the other end and be better people for it. That's just part of life.In that same vein, you've been both a head coach and an assistant coach. What are the things you like about each position?
As a head coach, obviously you have all the power [laughing]. That being said, you can have a lot of impact on everything, and I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing all the time. It's a lot of pressure, a lot of responsibility. But, you can shape your day, your schedule because everyone has to fall in line with what you want. The thing about being an assistant coach is that you don't have that responsibility, you don't have to take that onus on of every single problem coming back to you. As an assistant coach, it depends on who you're working for. I've worked for a lot of different coaches. At this point in my career, I take great pride in helping out a young coach - when I first started with her, she was a younger coach - kind of grow. Just because you can believe in somebody's vision, it becomes your vision. It's been a pretty cool ride, I'll say that.Most fans have a general idea of what an assistant coach does - scouting opponents, recruiting, practice. But, can you walk us through a typical in-season day for you? What is your schedule like?
For me personally, I work out every morning, so that starts between 6:00 and 6:30. I'm usually in the office by 8:30 or 9:00. That's my time to get things done that I need to get done, because we have meetings at 10:00. That usually goes for about an hour. Practice is at noon, and that goes until 3:00 or 3:30. Depending on what's going on, whether it be scouting that I need to do - which can take me well into the evening - and how many scouts I have to do. Then, recruiting on top of that. And, there's all the little things that come up. I can't begin to tell you about all the little fires you have to put out along the way. Players walking in, you can't tell them 'I'm busy, you have to go.' You spend that time with them, even if it's 15-20 minutes, you have to do it. Phone calls come in. I could be on the phone with a coach for 45 minutes, but you have to do it. Prospects that have interest in our program send us tapes. And, if a kid sends in a tape, I feel compelled to look at it and respond to that. It's not just the kids that we're recruiting, it's the kids that want to be recruited.And on top of that, you'll go out on a recruiting trip as well?
Absolutely, you have to go recruit. You try to plan that all ahead because you're trying not to miss games or eliminate practices. So, I'm scheduling that for myself but also for everybody else. And, scheduling [Coach Staley] is a whole other ball of wax. Talk about how scouting opponents has changed with so many games televised and so much access to other teams' video.
For me personally, my big change was when I went to the pros and what was expected out of a pro scout. Before it wasn't as detailed, but since I was in the league, my scouting reports are pretty detailed and my expectations are pretty high. Because of Dawn's background as a pro athlete and a USA Basketball player, her expectations are pretty high. So, our kids get a pretty detailed scouting report. The thing that's changed for us is that we've had different systems of doing it, so you have to learn different ways of doing it on the computer. There's two components to a scout - you've got to break down the plays and you've got to do player personnel. For me, player personnel, especially when you're playing a new team, [takes time]. Like, in the pros, those players never changed, so that was okay. But, here, say, Tennessee is one of my scouts, I'm okay with Tennessee as a team but I have to figure out what the freshmen are going to do or what the junior transfers are going to do. And, then you have to figure out tendencies - what does a player like to do, what is she apt to do in this situation, what's their go-to play. You have to watch a ton of film. When I work out, I'm watching film because you have to find time in the day to get that in. I'm always watching film.How many games do you like to see of a team for your scouting report?
I will probably break down three, but I've probably watched five.What are the things that get you up in the morning excited to come to work?
I like coming to work to practice, and I'm really happy on game day. That's the exciting part. We spend a lot of time preparing these kids and all the work that goes into it. At the end of the day, it's really about the games. I like game day.What are the things about your job or profession that keep you up at night?
Game day.You have a love/hate relationship with game day?
Yeah, you know. Recruiting keeps me awake at night. It's a very competitive situation. We're trying to get some things done here, and I know that Dawn is not a patient person - and I'm probably less patient. We're trying to win games here, so it's about the recruiting. Some of the things the kids do that aren't in the best interest of this team, that keeps me up at night. And, my work load. Even though I'm tired and need to sleep, I know there are things that need to be done in a certain amount of time, deadlines I have to meet.The mentality of student-athletes seems to have changed so much in the span of your coaching career. How do you adapt your approach to recruiting to stay in touch with this generation of student-athletes?
For one thing, technologically, you have to be on task. It first started with the text messaging, which is has been taken away from us, but, emailing and Facebook are there. My approach on our staff is a little different. I don't really feel I need to stay up with their music and those types of things. I'm more into where they want to go, what they want to do with their careers. I want to talk to them about their recruiting process and give them some insight on that. A lot of time, I'm not even talking about South Carolina. I'm talking about what's about to happen to them. I think I have a lot of insight into what they're going to go through. You try to have a sense of humor with them and, obviously, be comfortable with you. I find with recruits, you have to get them to talk, and that's not easy for some kids. You have to find something that they have some interest in talking about. It's a big challenge, but if you can get them going, it works.You spent a season with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. What were the biggest differences in coaching men and women?
I wasn't coaching college guys. I was coaching grown men, so that was a little different. Just like the WNBA, they were professionals and they come to work. But, there's a big part of them that, just like any other kid, it's a game for them. You have some that work hard and some that don't. You have some that compete every day and some that don't. From my experience, they were very nice to me. I was lucky enough that I was with a head coach that kept me involved with it. It's another level of competitiveness in the NBA. I can't even explain it. They're huge guys. It's big. It's physical. It's fast.Building a program that can consistently compete in the SEC can feel like a 24/7 kind of task. When you want to "get away from it all," what do you do?
I have to tell you, it is not easy to get away from it, especially with what we're doing here and with the technology. Kids can constantly get a hold of you and you feel like you have to be in touch with them and with coaches. That can be pretty constant. I do like to read, and if I can travel, although I travel so much [with work] that's kind of lost its luster.That was one of our questions: Do you have favorite places you like to travel when you're not working?
If I could go anywhere, it would be the beach. I mean, there's nothing better than the ocean, is there? Just listening to it and being able to sit there and just watch people or read a book. That's my ultimate choice.Did you finish the Andre Agassi biography you were reading?
I did. I thought it was pretty good. They tried to tie things up at the end, but you can't really do that because his story is still evolving. The one just read, though, is Game Change. It was so good. It's about the election of 2008. You'll read it in three days. You won't put it down. It is an excellent read.Is there a sport other than basketball that you're a huge fan of?
FootballCollege or pro or both?
Well, I like our Gamecocks. I really want them to win. But, I really love pro football. I've always loved it. Monday Night Football is like a national holiday. Every Monday night, it's a national holiday. I can't stay awake for it, but I like it.What is your all-time favorite movie?
I can't think of one right now. I used to like the one where the kids go on the hike for a day, with the actor that just died. [Stand By Me, SBU offers]. Yes, Stand By Me. I really liked that one. I like light-hearted ones, too.What are you favorite shows to watch on television?
I watch late at night. I love Cake Boss. I guess because you get to know his family. I like it. I've started watching The Middle. I like all the shows that don't have that canned laughter, like Boston Legal - although that's not on any more - and The Office. And, there's the other one Modern Family. It's pretty funny. Did you see Betty White [on Saturday Night Live] this weekend? It was hilarious. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Waiting in line.After a tough loss, what is the thing you do to try to make yourself feel better?
There isn't a whole lot that's going to make me feel better after a tough loss. I'll tell you this, the next day is worse than the day of. The next morning is the worst when you wake up and know that you've lost that game. That's pretty tough. It takes going to the next practice to move forward, because you've got to get to that next game. I don't know how football coaches do it with a whole week. And, it's such a short season so there's no margin of error. In basketball, you play almost 30 games so you have a little wiggle room. But, in football, not so much.We've heard that some of your workouts are legendary. How often do you work out and what's a typical workout day for you?
I always do something cardio, and that would be anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on what I'm working on. And, then, this past year I've started working out with Jon [Vaden, strength and conditioning coordinator for women's basketball] lifting weights, so I try to go down and work out with him three days a week. It just feels good. The thing I want to start is pilates or yoga, but I have to find a place to do it. I don't stretch enough.We've also heard you show your nurturing side with some gardening. What are you growing these days?
I just started last year, thought I would grow some tomatoes. When I was living in Philly, I didn't have a house. I just lived in an apartment. So, I have a yard now that I used to think I liked mowing, but the yard got big and it got really hot. This year I did something different. I got garden boxes so I don't have to dig in my ground, and I got some seeds in February. So, now I have tomato plants growing in my house that are about [a foot tall] and I have to plant them. So, it's going to be tomatoes. I will tell you one thing I like about being down here as opposed to being in Philly is that you can get fresh fruits and vegetables. That was pretty tough in Philly. I've gone blueberry picking and strawberry picking [down here], and I've enjoyed that. For the most part, I don't do a lot of gardening, though, because I'm gone so much. I'm away almost the whole month of July, so I have to ask my neighbors to water the plants every other day.And you have to spray something on them so the bugs don't eat them.
And, I didn't do that last year and had a few bug problems. I wasn't very happy. I had these creepy crawly things, which got me nervous because it was up on the deck close to my house. I'm not much of a bug person.