The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, January 30, 2019
Inside the promise of Brooklyn—interview with Briann January—must-click women's basketball links
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The Promise of Brooklyn
We’re obviously neck-deep in the most interesting part of the WNBA offseason, with free agency about to begin, and the heart of the NCAA hoops season. So there’s a lot going on.
But I don’t want you all to miss what it means that the sale of the New York Liberty to Joseph Tsai is now complete.
Briefly, Tsai is the Nets minority owner en route to becoming the majority owner, which is to say, barring something truly unforeseen, this is his Nets team going forward. Accordingly, everything he’s doing to take that NBA team to another level now redounds to the benefit of the WNBA team he’s purchased as well.
We’ll see some sense of that later this year, when there is a scheduled day to celebrate the Liberty at Barclays Center. And the reason Barclays is so critical is several-fold. There’s the fact that in New York, there really were only two major league level arenas for the Liberty to call home: The Garden, which wasn’t happening, and Barclays. But Barclays is more than just a top-notch arena. It is in Brooklyn, a particularly well-situated home for a women’s basketball team, growing and diverse. And the arena itself is accessible by something like 15 different subway lines. It is very much a 21st-century answer to the basketball arena question.
According to a source familiar with Tsai’s thinking, this purchase offers the ability to get in on a potentially thriving business opportunity, while improving the lot of women’s basketball. He sees it as a cross between his Nets purchase and his support for Lincoln Center. That strikes me as precisely what is needed for the WNBA at the current moment.
For the league to have this in place in the media capital of the country, to replace a team exiled to Westchester and facing an uncertain future, is a bigger win than anything else that will happen this offseason.
This Week in Women’s Basketball
The Pac-12 created a women’s basketball podcast!
The Midland Daily News catches up with Tori Jankoska.
Jenn Hatfield breaks down the statistical case for and against Holly Warlick.
Here’s Holly’s own take on the state of the Lady Vols.
Don’t overlook Lamar’s Chastadie Barrs. Megan Gauer didn’t.
Terrific deep dive from Mirin Fader into Sabrina Ionescu.
I loved this letter from C. Vivian Stringer to Maori Davenport.
Tee Tee Starks, Arizona glue player, is worth your time, as is this PJ Brown story on her.
Bridget Carleton can play, and Mechelle Voepel delivers a feature on her.
Kianna Ibis is peaking at the right time.
Utah is ranked (and a fun watch!), and Doug Feinberg caught up with coach Lynne Roberts about it.
Enjoyed Teddy Gutkin on Naz Hillmon, who is an absolute star in the making.
Janie McCauley dropped a big feature on Kristine Anigwe, just under the wire!
Ben Dull is always great, and this on the Aces is no exception.
Russ Steinberg has your latest Bracketology.
Tweet/IG of the Week
Five at The IX: Briann January, Phoenix Mercury sharpshooter and Arizona State assistant coach
I spoke to January by phone recently.
HOWARD MEGDAL: On Kristi Toliver’s new gig with the Wizards: This is obviously a pipeline that’s opening. When you saw that, did that resonate with you personally and also as someone who is already in coaching?
BRIANN JANUARY: yeah. Just speaking from experience, and I know at the college level it’s a lot different and you’re doing so much more than just the x’s and o’s. It is more than x’s and o’s at the professional level as well. But you’re taking care of these kids on and off of the court. So it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of time that we put in here. But still, the same thing applies. The amount of work that goes into preparing a team, to making sure that all of your pieces are continuing to get better, or in a good mind space to play their best basketball. Making sure the person is doing well so they’ll be their best to perform when they step on the court. All of those things are on a coach’s plate to take care of. To do that for $10,000 for an entire NBA season is crazy. I’d like to break that down and do the math, like how much that is a game or how much that is a day. That would just be insult to injury. I don’t think it’s worth sitting back and looking at it from this perspective. It is an opportunity. This is the start of bigger opportunities.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Something that in your mind has to be fixed in the next CBA, right?
BRIANN JANUARY: 100 percent.
HOWARD MEGDAL: To a certain extent, the last CBA was signed before Kristi, before Becky [Hammon]. Now this is an issue. Now it’s gotta be fixed, right?
BRIANN JANUARY: Exactly. And in Becky and Kristi taking these positions, it allows us to kind of address these issues. You know, if no women were to break those barriers and step into these positions, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. So they are trailblazers and they are allowing us to have these bigger conversation. So when we do address the CBA and the changes that need to be made, these are huge steps that they are taking and they’re creating change for all of us inspired to take our coaching to the next level.
HOWARD MEGDAL: So Bri, what about for you? I’m curious whether the NBA was even on your radar when you were thinking about coaching down the line. Was that something that was part of your thinking when you thought about what you wanted to do in the coaching realm?
BRIANN JANUARY: Not initially to be honest. The reason I wanted to get into coaching was simply because I had phenomenal coaches when I was in college. I am where I am because of them and they allowed me to grow and they pushed me. And they challenged me. And they were there for me when I needed guidance throughout these college years. And it’s such a pivotal part for a young woman’s life, just in figuring out what they want to do, who they are as a woman, trying to instill the things that we should in our young women so they can grow up and be game changers. So they can be impactful women in society and strong women. So that’s why I wanted to coach. To be apart of that for the younger generation. Because Charlie here at Arizona State does that.
That’s one thing that she takes pride in and it’s a priority for her. She takes the time to be with her kids and over half of our team meetings are about just our kids growth on and off the court. So I learned from her and that inspired me to give back. That’s why I wanted to coach. But I also enjoy being out on the court. And I love the game of basketball. And I love learning and I love at any level, I just love the game. There’s so much to be learned at the college level, at the NBA level. To have more people come from the professional levels here to the college level to help grow and foster the next generation up to kind of raise the level in the pros, is what I wanted to be apart of as well.