This season ArkansasRazorbacks.com will be running a weekly feature series highlighting a member of the 2012-13 team. This week the series focuses on redshirt freshman Joey Bailey.
For any player, the toughest part of playing the game is when it is taken away from you. For Arkansas' Joey Bailey, she was eight games into a promising freshman season when she broke her nose. Bailey was unable to practice or play for the rest of the season, and took a medical redshirt.
While the experience forced her to repeat her freshman season, it will benefit her in the long run, as she has a promising future in the Arkansas post rotation.
"It was such a humbling experience," Bailey said. "I had never had basketball taken away for any reason. I had never been injured before. I learned a lot, and now I appreciate it more. I got to to see some things off the bench and understand the game a bit more."
In high school Bailey was a very talented athlete, playing four sports for her hometown Gunter High School in Texas. She earned all-state honors in both basketball and volleyball, and earned District Freshman of the Year in both basketball and softball. With a father that played collegiate basketball at Cameron University, Bailey focused on basketball from a young age, and averaged 21.6 points and 10 rebounds a game her senior season.
"At an early age I just loved it," Bailey explained. "It was the road that led me here. I got to know the Arkansas coaching staff, and I just had the right feeling about coming here."
Bailey has worked hard this season, knowing that playing time will be available in the future. She has sat behind the senior post tandem of Sarah Watkins and Quistelle Williams, who have had strong Razorback careers. When the two posts graduate, Arkansas will be counting on their younger bigs to step up.
"Last year I couldn't practice at all," Bailey said. "This year practice is a chance to get better each day. It's good experience. I can see live action, and am more prepared for the future. Playing behind Sarah and Q, they're huge shoes to fill. They are so successful at their position. It's a good experience for me to watch them, but at the same time, I can see what I need to do for future."
Throughout this season, the squad has had noticeably strong team chemistry. Even while Bailey has been on the bench, her attitude and enthusiasm has been a major positive for the team.
"This team is great," Bailey said. "We've had some bumps, but we've always stayed together and that's really important. This year has been tough at times, but my motto has been from the beginning that I'm going to stay positive. There are bigger things than me going on as far as our season. If I just focus on the bigger picture and staying positive, that feeds the rest of the team."
Bailey's upbeat attitude has been infectious, and makes her a favorite of the coaching staff. She is starting to earn the trust of the coaching staff with her play on the floor, and her positive demeanor and eagerness to learn makes her own of the most coachable players on the team. As time goes by, it is clear that will lead to Joey Bailey being on larger factor on the court.
"More than anything else, she's probably been the best teammate anyone could have," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "One thing all her teammates would say about her is that she's been the perfect teammate despite not playing as much. As a coach, I appreciate that because I know she's still going to keep working hard. When she's gotten minutes, she's played the way we expected of her. I preach to our team that when I put Joey Bailey on the floor, she never makes any mistakes. She might not score or grab a rebound, but she doesn't turn it over, she does everything she's supposed to. When kids to do that and they work hard, eventually they are going to be impactful players. She's still a redshirt freshman, next year she'll have her opportunity."