'That's just basketball': Janelle Bailey sparks UNC in ACCT

'That's just basketball': Janelle Bailey sparks UNC in ACCT

GREENSBORO -- It was a statline Coach Sylvia Hatchell knew had to change. 

Zero points. Seven Rebounds. A 0-for-7 clip from the field. 

Her star forward, Janelle Bailey, needed to get going. The first half numbers showed what any person in attendance at the opening day of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament could see: The ACC Freshman of the Year's post moves weren't working against constant double teams. She was locked up, jammed, and frustrated.

And the hall-of-famer had just the solution.

"Second half, we were running something where she pulled out and got the ball in the high post area," Hatchell said. "That's an area of her game that she doesn't show that much, but she faced up and made several baskets in the mid range, high post area."

Four, to be precise, in the third quarter alone. Bailey dropped 16 total points for the game, all in the second half, to push the Tar Heels over the Boston College Eagles, 69-64.

Bailey knows her back to the basket game is her specialty. It's what allows her to use her 6-foot-4 frame and her plethora of post moves to create space and get good looks at the basket. But the rest of the ACC knows that too, so sometimes, she said, you have to throw a different look at them.

"I think I've had it my back pocket for a while, but now is a time where I have to do it consistently," Bailey said of her midrange game. "There have been times where I let it go, and go back to my back to the basket, which is always my bread and butter. But, I feel like as college basketball goes on and the way the game is changing, you have to have both, in order to be basically unstoppable."

In the first half, the Eagles were giving her everything she could handle, double and triple teaming her in the post, forcing her to pass out or to take contested looks in the paint. They also were playing chippy, getting physical with her in tie-ups and brushing past her everytime up and down the court.

It came to a head early in the first quarter, when the Eagles drew an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on Bailey iafter a tie up for a jumpball, after a Boston College player jumped back when Bailey swung her arms to get control of the ball.

"We looked at the film before (and) saw them flopping," Bailey said. "I knew it was something that was going to happen."

Things almost went disastrous for Bailey late in the second quarter, as Bailey's elbow connected with BC's Georgia Pineau as Bailey jogged back up the court following a missed Tar Heel shot, causing the forward to fall down and lie on the court. Boston College Coach Erik Johnson wasn't having it.

"Look at my kid!" he yelled across the court to the ref, before referring to Bailey. "She's out!"

The officials charged the freshman with a personal foul and went to the monitor reviewing to see if was flagrant.

Bailey stood silently, staring straight ahead past her bench as her coach protested and her opponent huddled down at their bench at the other end of the court. Was she worried about the possible ejection?

"No," Bailey said with a smile. "That's just basketball."

Referee Dee Kantner agreed, sticking with the personal foul, pushing the forward to the bench for the final 32 seconds of the half. But the tone was set coming out of the half, and Bailey came out firing. 

She dropped in a layup just under two minutes into the third quarter for her first points of the afternoon, but they'd be the only points she'd score inside the lane for a while. The freshman shifted out of the paint, catching feeds from Paris Kea and Jamie Cherry all around the court, using her height to shoot over her one-on-one defender.

Once from the baseline, then from the top of the key. Next time from the elbow. Constantly moving, getting just enough space to shoot her shot and hitting nothing but net for four straight jumpers. She finally got a layup with under a minute to go in the third to finish the quarter with 12 points, helping push a three point halftime lead to five.

"She's just getting better and better and is becoming a versatile player," Hatchell said. "That's an area of her game that she doesn't show much but she's really been working on." 

It's something UNC will need on Thursday against NC State, whom the Tar Heels have already suffered two double-digit losses to this season. It's a tall task, but the ACC Freshman of the Year is ready for it. 

"I've been through ups and downs in basketball, I don't really let much get under my skin," Bailey said. "When my shot's falling, I feel a lot better."



Header Photo by Gabi Palacio