Q & A With Head Coach Joanne Boyle
Virginia women’s basketball head coach Joanne Boyle recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to preview the team’s 2011-12 campaign. The Cavaliers face Alaska Anchorage on Saturday (Nov. 5) in an exhibition contest, before the Boyle era begins on Nov. 11 vs. Appalachian State.
Question: How has your reception been in Charlottesville from the community and the fans?
Boyle: The reception has been great. When we’ve gotten out and had some speaking engagements it seems like everyone is really excited for the season and a new start and a new energy. We’re all excited to get out on the court.
Question: This is your third head coaching job after successful stints at Richmond and California. How will you apply your style to Virginia?
Boyle: My first job was as an assistant coach for Gail Goestenkors at Duke. She started a program that was last in the ACC and that started a walk-on point guard. I learned from her how to build a team and sustain it. I took that knowledge, and got put in these situations. At Richmond, I used a lot of what I learned at Duke plus my own ideas as well as input from the other coaches on staff, and we were able to do it at Richmond and eventually at Cal. I think ultimately you end up having a blueprint of what you feel makes you successful. I don’t typically plan on changing that blueprint, and hopefully it will apply here as well. I just go with what I know, and what has been successful, and then move on from there.
Question: What have you been seeing from the players and the team?
Boyle: The biggest thing is that the kids seem really hungry to go out there and perform. I’ve seen the amount of work that is going to go in to take the program to another level. They are eager to do it, but they don’t yet understand the foundation we need to lay to make that happen. We are going to need to do a lot of things off the court in terms of building the program as a family. As we’re starting the process, once we get on to the court, we have to trust each other and the process. If they can do that, we will move forward. The volume and intensity of work will be very different for them, as well as the commitment. I talk to them all the time about from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they go to sleep at night, they need to walk, talk and act like an ACC champion. It’s a process to learn, so we’re in the process of teaching them what that looks like.
Question: What is your definition of a “Joanne Boyle-coached team?” What can fans expect to see in John Paul Jones arena this season?
Boyle: They can expect a lot of energy, since I am very animated on the sidelines. Off the court, I am very laid back, but when I step on the court for practice or a game, I’m all about my team. I’m into what they’re doing, whether it’s a good play or needs help. The identity of my team is shaped around playing inspired. They play because they enjoy being around each other, and they are a hardworking group. If I can get that identity attached to our team, we’ll be able to build this program.
Question: As you look at your first schedule as Virginia’s head coach, what sticks out to you?
Boyle: In general, my philosophy is to play a somewhat competitive non-conference schedule. That’s dependent on where we are as a team. I want to bring great teams in here so that fans can see great basketball. But you have to be smart as a coach to decide what your team can handle. You can’t predict a lot of those things, but you just have to know your team, and how to push yourself but also gain confidence. I’ve never been a coach to back away from competition, but the level of what your team can handle is important. We have to position ourselves for the NCAA tournament, trying to hit that 20-win mark.
Question: How do you prepare for as tough of a conference as the ACC?
Boyle: The ACC is so competitive, there are generally five or six teams heading to the NCAA tournament at the end of the season. Part of the exciting aspect of playing and coaching in the ACC, is that you need to be ready for the conference season. If you’re not playing anyone non-conference who will challenge you like the ACC teams, you’re not getting ready. Conversely, if you are overworking them or they’re getting beat up in non-conference games, that’s not going to work either. They should have been challenged in non-conference, but have seen success and have a confidence going. That’s a fine line, and every year it changes. But the goal is to get them prepared, and the only way to do that is play good teams.
Question: How has men’s head coach Tony Bennett and his staff been during your transition?
Boyle: Tony has been awesome, I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague down the hallway. Both he and his staff have checked in on us, called us, they’ve been great about sharing information about the University. They are an unbelievable staff, and a joy to be around. Tony has been great sounding board for me. He’s recently done this too, making a move from the West Coast, and he’s had a lot of great insight. It’s great to have such a great support system.
Question: Where does your passion for the game come from?
Boyle: My passion comes from a lot of different places. I grew up in a family of five, and we lived in a neighborhood with all boys, so my childhood was all about hanging out with the boys. In order to do that, I had to play sports. I was a tomboy. I played sports, and that was a big part of my identity. I wasn’t a great basketball player, just a great athlete. Understanding that I wasn’t the best on the floor, I had to get after it and want it. I think my drive also comes from my parents, they were hardworking people, and instilled in us the need to work hard. The next piece is definitely playing competitive college basketball, and learning it from there. Ultimately as a coach, I don’t think there is anyone more intense than Gail Goestenkors and I learned a lot watching her and Mike Krzyzewski and seeing how they handled kids day in and day out, and the spirit in how they coached. Being there for so long, it was a great training ground for me.
Question: What’s the best thing about being the head coach at the University of Virginia?
Boyle: One of the things is being at a University that really values academics with a level of excellence in athletics. They support that statement. They don’t say that and not follow through, they say they want to be a great academic institution with a strong brand of basketball, and they put the supports in place to make that possible.