Q & A: Jeanette Pohlen

June 13, 2012

Far from her home in Southern California, second-year Fever guard Jeanette Pohlen is becoming more comfortable in Indiana. After spending five months in Turkey playing overseas last winter, Pohlen spent springtime back in her stomping grounds to relax and rejuvenate before Fever training camp began in May. Indiana’s 2011 first-round draft pick has her sights set on a WNBA title. Before flying to Washington for Friday’s road game, Pohlen was able to talk with FeverBasketball.com’s Becca Bornhorst about her transition to the WNBA, friends and family.    

FeverBasketball.com: You reached the NCAA Final Four your senior year at Stanford and then played an entire season right away for the Fever. Talk about what it was like jumping right into the WNBA as a rookie without hardly any rest time.

Jeanette Pohlen: “Overall it was kind of crazy. I just feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to play in the WNBA. I finished school at Stanford a quarter early so that I could be ready to jump right into training camp. It was a whirlwind ending my college career and then starting a new one. It was exciting but also bittersweet, leaving so quickly.”

FB: Making it to the Eastern Conference Finals as a rookie gave you a taste of what it could be like to win a WNBA title. Does this make you even hungrier to win a title this year?

JP: “Yes, definitely. We’ve talked a lot about our goals for this season and obviously our biggest goal is to win the championship. We have all of the pieces and everybody on this team has so much to give. I really think we’ll be able to use everyone to get where we ultimately want to go.”

FB: How does your team plan to bounce back from two losses after starting the season out 4-0? Are there any positives you can take from the losses that will help you improve as the season continues?

JP: “It’s never great to lose, but you can always get positives out of a loss. This week in practice we’ve really tried to go back to fundamentals. We went back to our defense and our individual 1-on-1 defense. We’re really focusing on being accountable and just getting down to the knitty gritty. We want to start showing that we are one of the best defensive teams, even if we haven’t played the best defense these last couple of games.”

FB: You had some complications in Turkey this winter and decided to spend most of the spring in California with your family. What was it like being home and how did you keep up with your training to prepare for your second WNBA season?

JP: “Mentally and physically I think I just needed a break and it came at a great time. I was in Turkey from October to February, so I got a good amount of time there and I learned a lot of things about myself and what I needed to work on individually as a basketball player. So when I came home I talked to my trainers [speed trainer and basketball trainer] as well as my family and everyone was willing to help me get back to where I needed to be to prepare for training camp and this season.”

FB: Speaking of family, with Father’s Day approaching next weekend, are there any stories about your dad that you could share that have helped shape you into the basketball player and person you are today?

JP: “My dad has never been one to force me to do anything or be really hard on me. A lot of times you see dads or parents making their kids do things that they don’t necessarily want to do. I think my dad has taken a back seat, letting me decide what I want to do and I think that’s helped make me the basketball player I am today. We talk a lot about basketball. He’s so knowledgeable about the game -- he’s coached at one of the top high schools and at the collegiate level as well. He sees a lot of the intangible things that many people watching the game may not even realize. It’s very helpful talking to him after a game because he knows what’s going on and he understands the details that not everybody sees. He’s always been so supportive of me and even when I don’t have my best game, he doesn’t make me feel bad about it. Both of my parents have supported me so much throughout my career.”

FB: Two of the Colts’ top 2012 draft picks are Stanford graduates, quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Coby Fleenor. What can you tell us about your relationship with them and, how excited are you that they will be playing football in the same city you’re in?

JP: “Stanford is a very unique university in that everybody is so supportive of each other, even if you don’t know someone or hangout all of the time. We all kind of know about each other and this is especially true in the athletics department. Andrew and Coby would both come to our games and we would go to their games. Win or lose, everybody just has this sense of Stanford pride. I’m very excited that they both got drafted here. It’s nice because they’re so close to my age. Coby is in my class and I’ve known him since the summer before my freshman year. I also got to know Andrew over the years that he was at Stanford, too. They’re both great guys -- I can’t say enough about their character and personalities. I think Indianapolis is a great fit for them.”

FB: Do you think Fever fans may be able to spot Luck and Fleenor at any of your games this season?

JP: “I’m definitely going to try to get them here! It would just show that connection that we shared at Stanford, and I think bringing that here to Indianapolis would be great—showing a Colts and Fever connection. It’s always nice when you get support from a great NFL program or anyone that’s well-known.”

FB: After spending most of your life in California, and even spending this past spring there, what is the biggest difference between the west coast and the Midwest? What is your favorite part about playing in the state of Indiana, a place so different from home?

JP: “Last year I didn’t know as many people and didn’t know as many places to eat or where to go, but this year I feel more comfortable here. I want to eventually end up in California but I’m not opposed to living in different places. I like getting the feel of what it’s like to live in another part of the country. Living in Indiana is really not as ‘bad’ or ‘different’ as people from home might think. One of my favorite parts about Indianapolis and Indiana in general is the people. Everyone is so friendly and supportive, especially in Indy. I think we have some of the greatest fans. I’ve had friends come here and visit and they’re just amazed by all of the fans we have and the support that they show for us.”