Fever's January still working back from knee injury

Briann January is happy to be playing again, even if it's in short spurts.

Indiana's point guard is still recovering from a knee injury she suffered in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals last October. She scored four points in a 91-59 loss to the New York Liberty on Friday night. It was just her second game of the season and she only played 18 minutes.

''It (the knee) was a little sore,'' January said after the game. ''It felt alright. My wind was better. I wasn't as tired when I was out there. My cardio was getting better. It's just maintaining game speed so I was happy with it, but I just have to continue to build.''

The 29-year-old made her season debut for the Fever on Wednesday in an 85-75 victory over the Seattle Storm, scoring four points and tallying three assists. She said health-wise, she is still not back to 100 percent.

''I have a little ways to go managing volume and everything,'' said January, who tore her meniscus and had microfracture surgery on her right knee in October. ''I think I went a little too hard the two days leading up to it (season debut). I had a little residual pain shooting stuff, but that is to be expected and that is something that we have to figure out along the way.''

The seven-year WNBA veteran is also getting accustomed to coming off the bench - rather than be in the starting rotation - so she can maximize her limited minutes and help her young team finish out quarters.

''We're really young at the point guard position behind Bri and so for them to watch her in action and watch her in the system and to really have an understanding of what we want to do is incredibly beneficial to them,'' Fever head coach Stephanie White said.

January, who has been the Fever's starting point guard since 2011, sustained the injury in the deciding game of the WNBA Finals last year. She was defending Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen at the start of the game when January planted her foot and ''felt a slight pop'' in her right knee. Brushing the injury off thinking it was just a slight swelling issue, the two-time member of the WNBA All-Defensive Team player tried to run it off.

''I saw my trainer on the side and he did some release stuff on the side and I was like `OK you are literally going to have to peel me off this court before I throw in the towel,''' January said. ''So I got back out there and played on it.''

She finished the game and ended up scoring 13 points in 32 minutes for the Fever in a 69-52 loss to the Lynx. It was the Lynx's third WNBA championship in five years.

In the morning following the game, January said her right knee ''blew up'' and she saw a doctor who informed her it was a torn meniscus and looking even further, the doctor realized she had cartilage damage and needed to have microfracture surgery.

January spent the entire offseason recovering from surgery completed by Fever team doctor and orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Kollias of OrthoIndy. She was on crutches and not able bear any weight for six weeks after the procedure. It wasn't until five months after her surgery that January tried to run, cut and plant her foot under her own power.

''You have to stay off of it and allow that area to heal and that was frustrating for me because I'm a busy body and I love working out, love being in the gym, so that was tough,'' January said.

White said it was just nice to have January's presence back on the floor with her experience, poise, composure, and understanding of their system.

`'As of right now she can only play 12-15 minutes and I want those minutes to be those end of quarters for us and once she can play more minutes than absolutely we will put her back in the starting lineup,'' White said.

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