WNBA teams opened practices over the weekend after a mandated post-arrival quarantine at their “bubble” in the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. But as teams return to work on the court, the coronavirus was a definite presence for a team that reached last year’s WNBA Finals.
The Connecticut Sun announced Sunday 11-year veteran point guard Briann January, and second-year point guard Natisha Hiedeman both tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in the most recent round of league screening that took place between June 28 and July 5.
Neither player traveled with the team for the start of training camp.
“We miss them. We miss their personalities, we miss their talent and we miss their ball handling,” Sun head coach Curt Miller told reporters Sunday. “It’s not easy when you have two point guards. We are certainly down in numbers.”
According to Miller, both players are currently in quarantine and follow the league and Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Both are expected to arrive to join the team in Florida following a succession of two negative tests while in quarantine, followed by further quarantine and screening when they arrive.
Miller notes that the situation was the roughest on January. She was brought to Connecticut from Phoenix in a three-team trade in February to bring veteran leadership to a young team that fell a game short of the league title last season. As a valued part of the Indiana Fever, January played a key role in the team’s 2012 WNBA championship. She also considered among the elite defenders in the league with the Fever and the Phoenix Mercury, and has been named the WNBA All-Defensive team six times.
“I feel bad for Briann. She was negative six straight times,” Miller lamented. “We’ll get both of them back here as soon as they get through all the regulations, and we are in contact with them each and every day.”