20 questions with Mike Boynton

Gamecock Anthem sat down with South Carolina assistant Mike Boynton to ask him a series of questions about himself and the state of the Gamecocks' basketball program. In this exclusive three-part series the South Carolina basketball staff gives open and honest insight.

Where are you from?
Brooklyn, N.Y.

What high school and colleges did you attend?
Bishop Laughlin and South Carolina

Do you have any siblings?
Four sisters, and I'm the second to last.

What's your favorite food?
That's a tough one. I love seafood, and I love Italian. Seafood would be 1A, and Italian would be 1B.

What's the greatest basketball moment that you've ever seen?
My Freshman year when we beat Florida, and they were ranked fifth. It was my first SEC game. Travis Kraft hit a shot at the buzzer. I don't think he played the whole game. It was in the old Frank McGuire Arena, and the crowd stormed the floor like when we beat Kentucky a couple of years ago.

What's the greatest basketball moment that you were a part of?
That Florida game and my senior year when we sat at (former) coach (Dave) Odom's house and watched us make the NCAA tourney my senior year of college.

What's it like to coach at a school that you actually played for?
I would imagine that it's unrivaled. It's not like coaching anywhere else because I know what it's like as a student-athlete. I believe in the program, and I believe in the vision that Mr. (Eric) Hyman (athletic director) has for the athletic department. I just have a great sense of personal pride in coaching for the school that I attended. I was probably one of the happiest people in Columbia when coach (Ray) Tanner won the whole thing in baseball the first time and the second time.

What's the biggest adjustment you had to make when you came to Columbia from New York?
The limited access. New York City is 24/7. Everything is go, go, go. It was just adjusting to a different lifestyle from a social aspect more than anything else.

What would you tell kids that would be in your shoes from New York that haven't experienced the South?
College athletics is a big deal when you have a state university like South Carolina and that people embrace you. It's unmatched. The way the fans accept you like family, and it's a unique experience as a student-athlete.

What are the major changes on campus?
All the facilities – athletic and nonathletic. The Russell House in the center of campus has been upgraded. The Strom Thurmond Wellness & Fitness Center is one of the best in the country — it's got an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, several basketball courts. We've got the best of the best. The changes and upgrades for the football stadium and the soccer fields, and the baseball stadium wasn't there. The upgrades to the basketball stadium and the upgrades to the program have been very very positive.

What's the difference between when you played and this year's team?
We play a different style then when I played. Overall, we have just as much talent, if not more, than my career. It's pretty comparable. It's hard to compare the teams because of the difference of personnel and style of play compared to what we do now.

What's your favorite moment as a coach?
One of my favorite moments as a coach has nothing to do with basketball. It was when I was with Buzz Peterson recruiting for Coastal Carolina. Buzz took a kid from Brooklyn that he probably had no business taking. Just going back and watching the kid graduate was gratifying. Watching kids graduate is something I take pride in. Just watching kids get their degree and knowing they can be successful in life.

What's it like working for South Carolina coach Darrin Horn?
It's great. He's passionate. He really really cares about players and the program. He's family oriented, and he's very inclusive of our families. I'm with him every day, even on weekends and holidays. So, I see him in a different light — knowing he's a good person and a caring person. Not everybody gets to see that side of him, and they just see him in a public light. He's a guy that I'd trust my children with, and he has the best interest of the kids we coach. I feel honored to be a part of that with him.

What's one thing you and the other coaches do before every game?
I workout on game days, everyone has their own routine to get themselves ready. I don't think there's one particular thing we do together. Obviously, we gameplan, but I personally work out before the game. Instead of working out in the morning, I'll just workout before the game in between shootarounds and preparation.

How confident do you, as coaches, feel about the direction of the program?
We feel great, no question. The last couple of years, the wins and losses don't tell the story in how we've upgraded the talent level. But we understand that. Everything isn't as black and white as it seems. We take great pride in seeing the upgrades to the team and the development and maturity in our players, and we look forward to the product we'll put on the floor come November.

What are some things you are trying to accomplish to be more successful?
Being more consistent, being able to make more adjustments during the games and being able to stick together through adversity.

What is a realistic expectation for this coming year?
Realistically, I expect a much more consistent team and more committed to playing harder on defense and playing unselfishly on offense.

How is the team progressing thus far? We feel great about the progress we've seen with the guys. We've just recently been able to get back in the gym, and we're pleased with the individual progress. We look forward to the fans seeing the results starting Nov. 11.

How do you prepare a team that's so young for the rigors of the SEC?
Just go out there and practice and get after it every day. It's not going to be easy, and we've just got to work. Just knowing you aren't going to let the guy next to you down. Knowing that we have to play for each other and stick together and get past the obstacles once the season starts.

Whose the most likely to break your 3-point record you set in the SEC tournament?
Damien Leonard, obviously, is an exceptional shooter. So he'd be a favorite; and the dark horse would be Brenton Williams. They are two new guys that can really shoot the basketball that we're really excited about, and we're looking forward to our fans seeing them.

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