January Hopes Rookie and Overseas Experiences Help During New Season

Emily Diekelmann | April 18, 2010

Only a year ago, Briann January was awaiting her fate at the hands of the WNBA draft unsure of where she was heading. Now, as she prepares for her second year in the WNBA, January already has a lot of experience under her belt.

Playing in all 10 of Indiana’s postseason contests, January was vital to the Fever’s push to the WNBA Finals. Being a rookie in that position may have been daunting to some but for January, it was a wonderful feeling.

“Playing in the Finals was everything I could ask for,” January said during a recent phone interview. “Just having that trust from Lin [Dunn] to put me out there on the court during some of the most crucial times in the playoffs was huge. It boosted my confidence, and my teammates’ belief in me was huge. I wish we could have pulled it out but having the experience under my belt going into this year is something that will help a lot.”

Choosing to play overseas during the offseason, January has spent the last four months in Turkey.

Residing in Tarsus, a small village town in Southern Turkey, January is getting a taste of rural living. She lives with her teammates in what she describes as a “farmhouse dorm” with agriculture close by.

Her surroundings in an entirely new culture on the other side of the world have certainly been a new experience for her, but playing in the Turkish League with fellow Fever teammates Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Tammy Sutton-Brown and Ebony Hoffman – January has never felt too far from home.

Not only has January enjoyed the friendly competition with her Fever family, but having familiar faces on Tarsus has made everything easier.

“It’s been an experience. Luckily, I am on a team with some great people,” January said “Just being teammates with Chante Black (Tulsa Shock) and Betty Lennox (Los Angeles Sparks) has definitely helped me overseas. It has made my experience that much better. It has been tough, being in a small town like Tarsus.”

Participating in her first training camp a year ago, January was unsure of what to expect. Now, it is her turn to use experience both on and off the court to assist the new Fever class. Remembering what is was like to be rookie, January felt blessed to have the veterans teaching her along the way.

“I was lucky to be placed in the position I was because I just listened to all the knowledge Tully [Bevilaqua] gave me,” January said. “She was in my ear constantly. Playing under Catch [Tamika Catchings], she was a ton of help with making my transition to a pro. I just had all these veterans who helped me with every aspect of my game.”

This year, January gets to share her expertise.

Having played at Arizona State, January faced off with this year’s Fever first-rounder Jené Morris, when Morris attended the University of California as a freshman.

Morris transferred to San Diego State after her first season, but January still recalls potential in Morris.

“In Jene’s first year when she was at Cal, we played against each other a few times,” January said. “She was good then and great competition. You keep track of the people you play against and she was successful at San Diego State.”

Returning to Indiana after the Turkish League playoffs conclude, January is looking forward to seeing her Fever family as well as her own extended family that resides in Indianapolis and the Midwest.

Most of all, January is ready to use all the knowledge from last year to find success once again in 2010.

“Everything is different coming into this season because I didn’t know what to expect last year,” January said “Now, knowing what to expect, I am a little calmer coming into the situation. I know what is expected from me and what I need to do. It makes it a lot easier.”