January Ready for the Next Level

Briann January, one of ASU's most explosive point guards, was named to the PAC-10's Preseason All-Conference Team last week. Last season she earned All-PAC-10 honorable mention honors after helping lead the team to its first Elite Eight appearance in school history. In an interview Wednesday after practice January shared her excitement while maintaining a humble outlook.

"I think everyone around me is a little more excited about it than I am," said January. "If I end up getting it at the end of the season, that's when I will be really excited about it. With something like that, you need to show that you can represent and that you deserve it. By being on the team I think people are going to come at me a little harder to try and prove that they are better than me. Somebody must think that I'm doing something right."

The 5'8 point guard finished third in the PAC-10 in steals and fourth in assists last year. Not only does her sheer athleticism and speed make her a threat on both ends of the floor, but she also has an unwavering work ethic. She continually works hard to master the mechanics of the game.

"It takes so much time," explained January. "I remember getting in here as a freshman and just throwing the ball away. I definitely had to put in the work to see the results. Everyday I come out here I focus and work hard."

With younger players on the team January feels it is important to set a good example. The point guard position requires that a player be a leader on the court, however, January believes it is important to transfer that leadership off the court also.

"For me a lot of it is trying to set the tone and be an example," said January. "When I'm on the court I always work hard and do what the coaches say. When you work hard and show the other players that you are working hard, they really respect that. Through my years, if I have seen someone working hard on the court and leaving it all out there, I look up to them. Those have been my role models so I try and be that for the younger players."

Although January strives to be a consistent leader to her teammates she has struggled at times to be expressive on the court. "As I leader, I could be more vocal," noted January. "That's one thing I have struggled with, but to try and make up for that I work twice as hard to show that I am trying to be there and be a leader."

One of the most strenuous aspects of being a student-athlete is keeping up with all of the various demands the players have. Throughout the seven-month season not only do they have to fulfill their commitments to the team but they also have to stay focused on their school work. In addition to the scheduled games and practices, the team goes in for weight lifting, to watch tape and work on drills.

"It gets tough when the coaches want you in for film practice, extra shooting, weights- that gets a little bit demanding," said January. "Our academic coaches do a great job and our teachers understand what we are going through. We just have to keep communicating with them. You just have to buckle down and do it. That's just part of being a student- athlete."

Although the team was ranked twelfth in the Associated Press Preseason poll, the highest ever pre-season ranking in school history, January is anxious for the team to prove themselves on the court.

"Everyone is super excited," said January. "While I've been here at ASU we have never had such a balanced team. We have girls in the post that can get it done and our guard play is amazing. Everyone is just excited to get on the court together to show everyone what we can do because right now people don't think we are going to make it back to where we were. We try and not let that pressure get to us. We're hungry to get back to where we were. We know if we were in that situation again, we would make it farther."

Along with the addition of new players and a rigorous practice schedule the team is going to rely on the experience gained last year to go even further and hopefully make it to a national championship.

"As a team we just want to get better everyday and if we do that, we'll accomplish our goals," said January. "The ultimate goal is to be a national championship team and if we work hard we'll get there. We got a lot of experience from last year's tournament which is going to help us if we get there. We didn't really look like we knew how to handle that situation and now that we know what to do, I think that will help us get over the edge. We know we need to work ten times harder to win in the tournament."

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