Briann January Q&A
Rookie point guard Briann January stepped into her first WNBA season by starting immediately for the Indiana Fever – a part of a roster that includes four former Olympians, five former All-Stars, two members of the WNBA All-Decade Team, a WNBA MVP, two WNBA Defensive Players of the Year and three players who already have won WNBA titles.
Herself the two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-10 Conference while playing at Arizona State, January has quietly asserted herself with leadership and maturity – and with sorely needed quickness and offensive skills which the Fever sought when they made her the No. 6 pick in last April’s WNBA Draft.
After playing her first two games on back-to-back days, January spent time with FeverBasketball.com’s Jordan White to talk about her early pro experience.
Q: You’re two games into the season. You’ve been thrown into the fire. You’ve already experienced a home game, an away game, and a back-to-back. What’s been your reaction so far?
Briann January: “I think that I’ve been able to see it all. I have experience in an overtime game, and learned from that. We had a home opener where we didn’t show up, didn’t do what we were supposed to and we saw what happens as a result. I’ve really gotten a feel for the league and what I need to do to make it happen.”
Q: What have you learned from these two games, in terms of what you feel you need to work on to continue contributing to the team?
Briann: “I personally know I need to step it up on the defensive end. Defense wins games. I also need to work on toughness. You need to value every possession; you can’t take any possessions off, and you need to go 100 percent whenever you’re on the court.”
Q: You took over the starting point guard position from Tully Bevilaqua. What have you been able to learn from her?
Briann: “We would be here all day if I told you everything I’ve learned from her. She’s in my ear constantly. I learn things daily from her. She’s been amazing with this transition for me. She has helped me out so much. Since the first day of practice, she has been giving me little tidbits on offense, defense, and with overall strategy.
Q: Point guard is one of the most important positions in basketball. What has it been like running the offense on a team full of accomplished veterans?
Briann: “Oh my goodness. That’s part of the whole process – learning. Learning where we have the advantage and what play we need to run. We have so many plays, and so many alterations to each play, that there’s so much going through my head, and it’s taking me a little while. But I’m getting better, and I thank my teammates because they’ve been so patient with me. They’re not these players with big-time attitudes, they know I’m coming in and trying my hardest. I’m trying to make them happy.”
Q: What is important for you and the team to keep in mind during this 0-2 start to the season?
Briann: “We have a lot of basketball left, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. We know this is just the beginning of the season, but we also know we have a lot more to show people. We have so much firepower, we know what we have, and we just need to put it together. We’re not going to get down. It’s not time to push the panic button. We know that we can play better, and we will.”
Q: What went through your head when you launched your first shot of your professional career?
Briann: “I don’t even know. I was thinking, ‘let it go, you’ve done this before, you’ve done this before.’ I kept trying to remind myself ‘you know how to do this!’”
Q: And when you scored your first points?
Briann: “‘Get back on defense!’ It was a good feeling being able to score.”
Q: How would you gauge the team’s chemistry?
Briann: “It’s really good. We have a nice balance of players. We have some veterans who know the game from top to bottom, and we have some young kids coming in that can add a little something to the game. We’re all out here to get wins, and that takes care of chemistry itself.”