Three games into her first season as a Tar Heel, Janelle Bailey had a career night she can be proud of.
The forward — whose quick release from the block helped lead the North Carolina women’s basketball team past Radford, 79-46 — recorded her first career double-double Thursday night in Carmichael Arena. Bailey led the team with a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Granted, she's just starting her collegiate career, but the way the season has played out for her in the team's first three games, she has the potential to be a star on the inside for UNC.
In the Tar Heels' game against the Highlanders (1-1), Bailey had six points in the first half. The outside game was nonexistent for North Carolina (2-1) — with only one 3-pointer made in the first half — which is when Bailey started getting the ball down in the post.
She dominated on the inside, scoring eight points in the third quarter. She continued getting the ball in the fourth quarter, adding five more points in the four minutes she played before sitting out the rest of the 33-point win. Her 19 points came on 8-10 shooting from the field.
“She’s a huge ingredient to our team,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “She makes everybody else better because she draws attention, and the defense has to collapse on her.”
According to Hatchell, however, there are some improvements that need to be made to her game.
“I just want her to be a little more mobile, working on her jumping and everything, and offensive rebounding,” Hatchell said. “She had 10 (rebounds), but they were all defensive.”
She has 21 rebounds, only four of which are offensive so far this season. After the game, Bailey said that her main goal moving forward will be offensive rebounding — which will require an emphasis on honing her technique.
“I would love for my team to make every shot, but I know that’s not gonna happen,” Bailey said, jokingly. “It’s just about reading where the ball’s going to come off and making a second effort.”
In addition to improving her conditioning and offensive rebounding, Hatchell said Bailey also needs to work on staying out of foul trouble. Through three games, she leads the team with 12 fouls, including fouling out in her first career game against Hampton.
But this is only Bailey’s first year playing at the collegiate level, and she knew that improvements were going to have to be made once the season started. She said her first two games didn’t start off quite how she would have liked, so she’s trying to improve on a game-by-game basis.
“I knew coming into tonight that Radford was a good team,” Bailey said. “I knew that this was another chance for me to take a step in the right direction ... Now I think I’m just starting to get in the groove of things, starting to rebound more.”
Bailey said she sets goals before every game, and going into the game against Radford, her main goal was to have a bigger impact. And she did just that — leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks (with three). All of those were career highs.
Moving forward, her potential to be a key player for the team is huge, and according to Hatchell, she still has a lot more to offer.
“She’ll just get better and better,” Hatchell said. “I love her size and how physical she is.”
The games will continue to get harder as the season moves along, but as Bailey gains more experience, only time will tell just how good she’s going to be for this UNC squad.