BGSU transfer Cairnduff blooms at GV
Sophomore scoring sensation shoots out letters, lights
Grand Valley State University sophomore Bailey Cairnduff shoots a basketball like she were ringing a bell, but to begin and end her story categorizing her solely as a glorified 3-point specialist would make for an unfair and incomplete telling of her tale.
A tale that begins 60 miles north of Allendale at Morley Stanwood High School. A school where Cairnduff honed her skills, started all four years on the varsity team, and crowned her career as an undefeated state champion and her school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,663 career points.
She also lettered in track and volleyball, was named one of the 10 ‘Best of the Best’ players in the state regardless of division, and was heavily recruited. That Cairnduff be heavily sought after hasn’t changed. Nor have the expectations of her game.
“I haven’t asked Bailey to change who she is at all,” GVSU head coach Janel Burgess said. “I’ve asked Bailey to be who she is. I recruited Bailey out of high school very hard — she chose to go to (Bowling Green State University).
“I just loved everything about the young lady, from her character to her work ethic to her ability to be a great teammate, but we don’t need Bailey to be a superstar for us. We just need her to give us everything she can.”
Home, where the story starts. Humble. H.
Cairnduff began her collegiate career 215 miles southeast of GVSU at NCAA Division I BGSU. As a Falcon, her role was relegated to that of a bench player, although she did see action in 32 of the team’s 35 games and made four starts.
Throughout the 2012-13 season, Cairnduff averaged 4.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, netted 24 3-pointers, was 30.8-percent from beyond the arc and shot a scintillating 34-of-36 (94.4-perecnt) from the free-throw line. She was also named a co-recipient of the team’s Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Year-Award.
“I’m really enjoying it here (at GVSU), and I like the atmosphere better,” she said. “I feel like I’m getting more of an opportunity here to show what I can do, rather than having to conform into a role. Last year, I felt I was used almost exclusively as a shooter, but being a Laker, I think I’m getting the freedom to do what I like to do — which is a little bit of everything.”
In her first trip back to play basketball in Ohio since her transfer to GVSU in August, Cairnduff decided to make a return of a triumphant nature. Cairnduff scored a career-high 29 points on 12-for-19 shooting from the field, including five 3-pointers, and led the Lakers to an 82-71 victory over Walsh University on Jan. 9.
In fact, the trip included several firsts. It was GVSU’s first game ever at Walsh, the first 29-point effort chipped in by a Laker in more than a year, and the first time Cairnduff truly asserted her full capabilities in the Buckeye state.
“When we get kids who choose to come to GVSU from a Division I school, it’s always a good feeling for us, but for her to come in as a sophomore transfer and to put up numbers and to be able to play the quality minutes that she’s playing is great for the team, the program and herself,” senior guard Dani Crandall said.
Ohio. Opportunity. O.
A good shooter is always ready to shoot, and Cairnduff is one heck of a good shooter. Perhaps the best on the team. She leads GVSU in points per game (13.3), ranks first in 3-point shooting percentage (24-for-59, 40.7-percent) and has netted more 3-pointers (24) than anyone else on the team.
“She trusts us to get her the ball,” Crandall said. “We trust her to knock down the shots. That mutual trust has been established and will continue to grow as she and the team grow together. She’s playing like a vet right now, and the team is responding to that and fostering her — and both parties are better for it.”
Lesser known is that Cairnduff, despite being a first-year starter and sophomore, also leads the Lakers in minutes per game (28), as well as steals (16). She also ranks fourth in rebounds per game (4.8), and through 12 games, only senior returner Dani Crandall has packed the box score to an equal extent.
“Bailey’s becoming a much more well-rounded player,” Burgess said. “She’s always been a great shooter, but it’s nice to see her whole game come together on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Cairnduff is a shooter. But she’s also a scorer and is starting to come into her own as a complete player. As one of seven newcomers to the squad this season, she has also transitioned onto the team with relative ease — and like most things that she does on the court, has made it look easy.
“I want to give my best for my team and my coaches because I respect them and they respect me, and I love being a part of this program,” she said.
Cairnduff honed her stroke from a young age, making trips to the gym with her dad to take ‘tons-and-tons’ of shots. She still continues to take extra shots whenever she gets the chance.
Younger brother Tim Cairnduff is also partial to the hardwood and currently stars on Morley Stanwood’s boys basketball team. Although, the elder Bailey isn’t one to concede a point, albeit humbly.
“Tim has a pretty pure stroke, I must say, but we’re probably about even,” she said. “When we play H-O-R-S-E, he can always jack up the crazy looking shot from half court and they always go in, but sometimes, as the older sibling, I have to put him back in his place.”
For Bailey is a competitor — a fierce one. At or away from home, with or without the ball, in a GLIAC conference match or a game of H-O-R-S-E in the driveway.
And eager. E.
For personal growth, and for growth as a team. Eager to shoot. Eager to contribute. Eager to win. To take the shot with a game, or a letter, on the line. And to spell out a season, a career and a story at GVSU worthy of being told.
“Everyone’s goal in this conference is a GLIAC championship, and we want it,” she said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to get there, with focus and consistency every day.”