Fans Interview: Briann January
Helping fans connect with their favorite players.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
In today’s installment of Fans Interview, Michael O’Brien chose to interview Briann January of the Indiana Fever. For those unfamiliar with his real name, Michael is famous–or infamous (lol)–around WNBA message boards, Facebook and Twitter…as “Slovydal.” It seems as if everyone involved with the league knows him. Well, after learning more about him, it is easy to understand why.
“Slovydal,” which is “Lady Vols backwards, attended the inaugural WNBA game in Los Angeles in 1997 and started making it to every Sparks game by 2002. From 2002 to 2004, he had full season tickets with both the Sparks and the Indiana Fever, along with partial ticket plans for the Sacramento Monarchs, Phoenix Mercury and Washington Mystics.
Now, that is commitment.
Living in Indianapolis since 2005, of course, the Fever are his team, but is also a man after my own (completely unbiased) heart, paying close attention to the Minnesota Lynx. He says he hopes for a Fever/Lynx WNBA Finals, but no matter what happens, he looks forward to another wonderful season in the summer of 2010.
Michael O’Brien: I saw you play a couple times at ASU as a sophomore and hoped you would play for the Fever some day. Was there a team you were hoping to be drafted by?
Briann January: The Fever of course! No, but really I have to admit my early years in college I didn’t watch the WNBA much, but Tamika Catchings is a great player, and who wouldn’t want to play with her.
Q: The Mercury picked before the Fever – what sort of emotions were going on, knowing that you might be picked by a team where you already have a fan base, followed by Phoenix passing on you?
A: I had four great years in Phoenix and the opportunity to stay there crossed my mind. When they passed on me, it didn’t faze me. I was lucky enough to end up with Indiana, and to this day, it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
Q: You were lucky enough to end up on a team with two other Pac-10 players. Who would you say is the best Pac-10 player in the WNBA today?
A: The PAC-10 has produced some great players, and I could name a whole squad of awesome PAC-10 players. I can’t name just one I mean Nicole Powell and Ebony Hoffman. I got to play against Shay Murphy as a freshman, and that was a great rivalry. I love all their players, and I have to represent the PAC-10 because we are a little underrepresented.
Q: I loved the match-up of you vs. fellow rookie Shavonte Zellous last season. Who would you say did the best job of guarding you last season?
A: There are some great defenders that want to pick you up full-court all game. There are some great ones, Tia Shavon, and Lindsey Harding did a great job on me. I could go down each team and name some one that guarded me well. I have loved defense since I started playing the game, so I admire all of them.
Q: You have a black belt in Karate – do you have other Eastern interests, like meditation, that help your focus on the court?
A: Most definitely. My college coach made us do yoga and meditation. Even with karate, we used meditation a lot, and I had a few situations last year where I got frustrated with myself. Lin graciously put me on the bench, gave me my time. While was I was on the bench, I took some time to cool myself down, and collect my thoughts. This allowed me to go back out there, and be re-focused.
Q: Was there a particular part of your game that you were assigned to “work on” while playing overseas?
A: I had a sheet that Lin filled out for me. One of the main focuses she wanted me to work on while I was overseas was becoming a more consistent 3-point shooter to increase my percentage. Hitting those punishment shots, people driving, kicking and hitting those open shots for our team because that’s key for us. Also, becoming a better floor general, managing the clock and being an extension of my coach on the floor.
Q: Four of your Fellow Fever players were also playing in Turkey. What did you enjoy most about living/working there?
A: Turkey as a whole is a great place with great culture and people. Where I was placed, in Tarsus, was hard to adjust to the lifestyle because it was so rural. It was tough adjusting to the food, and trying to productively fill my time. As a whole, Istanbul is a great place. When I got to play against my other teammates on their home court, it was great. The city is kind of like New York. I had a great experience in Turkey, took a lot from it and will probably not go back to Tarsus. Turkey as a whole I enjoyed.
Q: What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever been and what place in the world would you most like to visit?
A: While I was in Turkey, I took some trips out on my off days. I visited Israel, and that was great actually. It’s beautiful there, going out on the Mediterranean, and it’s so Americanized you would be surprised. I got to go to Italy in college, and loved it. If I had the chance to play in Italy, I will take that up. Those two are great places I would like to go back to if I had the opportunity.
Q: So, back to Indy, what do you like best about the city? Is there anything you found disappointing/frustrating about living in the Midwest?
A: Coming form Spokane, Washington, I love Indy. It is a bigger version of Spokane. Everything about Indy is awesome and the people have been amazing. They welcomed me in, and I’m not a big city girl by any means. There is not much traffic, and you can go downtown, go to the mall, with lots of places to eat. You can go out, and it’s not too overwhelming. The Midwest weather changes up a lot. The weather would be the only thing I could actually complain about which isn’t bad at all. When there is an IndyCar race going on, don’t drive anywhere!
Q: In the off season, several teams strengthened their rosters. What opponent do you expect to have improved the most?
A: I am expecting everybody to improve. That has been pushing me and our team. We brought back everybody, which is great because I think my team’s amazing. With us improving, you know everybody else is too. Players are bringing new things to the league. There are all-stars on all the teams, even all-stars that are coming off the bench.
Q: You made it to the Finals in your rookie year. Now as a wise veteran, what do you have that will get your team to the next level?
A: Nothing can prepare you more than being in that situation. By being there last year, and knowing what we did. We now know what it takes to win a championship. I think that’s something we have over everybody else. Our whole team is back with the exception of one or two, and we’re hungry to get back there. We will work ten times harder to get back, and come out on top.
Q: Last of all, to WNBA fans making a road trip to Indy, what restaurant, bar would you recommend to hit after the game?
A: St. Elmo’s. I haven’t been there since last year, but I think I’m going tonight maybe to treat myself. Love that place, delicious and great service.