Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Russell Hons
Melissa Dailey is leading the charge for North Dakota.
Every good basketball team has a reliable point guard. A player who can navigate an offense, handle the ball and also be the vocal leader on the floor. Travis Brewster lucked out with transfer Melissa Dailey, who has become a vital asset to North Dakota basketball. With her senior campaign underway, Dailey will also rely on her fellow seniors to lead on the floor too.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Dailey, and her sister Megan began their college careers at College of the Siskiyous in California. In that span, the school went 57-4 in Dailey’s two seasons with the program. In her sophomore season, she averaged 26 points per game which was a mark in the upper echelon of California junior college players. That sort of performance perked up eyes in Grand Forks.
Having only been with the program for two seasons, Dailey had to acclimate herself to the team a little quicker than she was used to. However, the fact that all of the seniors are the same age and have faced similar situations has made the transition relatively seamless. “It gives us quite a bit of an advantage because we’ve played with each other for two years now. We know how each other work and we all hang out outside of basketball so it really helps us connect on the court,” she said. “Having us six seniors, it helps us to help the younger kids too so the program can continue.”
Another factor Dailey had on her side was playing alongside her sister. With her presence it made the move to Grand Forks easier, it also provided a sense of comfortability for both Dailey sisters. “It’s great, we’ve been playing together since we were about five and we went to community college together, we played good together there. We got the opportunity to come here and continue,” she said. “She’s had some health problems, but she did get to go into one game last year and we did a little backdoor play and she made it and just that feeling, the crowd was going wild. It’s just great knowing I have someone there who has always been there.”
Melissa Dailey At A Glance
- Two-time Golden Valley Conference Most Valuable Player
- Averaged 26.1 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in her sophomore season at College of the Siskiyous.
- Scored in double figures 11 times last season for the Fighting Hawks
- Averaged 8.6 points per game last season
- Played in all 30 North Dakota games including 19 starts.
While the Daileys are twin sisters, Melissa finds her leadership style different from that of her sister’s. It is a sentiment shared by the other five seniors and coach Brewster as well. Each one has their own unique leadership qualities. “I think it’s just coming in and pushing the ball hard and talking on defense, getting a good stop and keeping everyone energized,” Dailey said in regards to her leadership style.
Despite coming in as a transfer, Dailey was very successful in what was her junior season in Grand Forks. She played in all 30 games, starting 19 of those games. She also led the Fighting Hawks in total assists, three-pointers made and three-point percentage. This led to Dailey averaging nearly nine points per game in 2017- 18. That mark was third best on the team behind fellow seniors Jill Morton and Lexi Klabo.
With a full offseason of preparation and bonding time with her fellow seniors, one can only expect that Dailey will continue to thrive on the floor for North Dakota. Managing the offense from the point guard spot may prove easier with more court time under her belt. Another year older and another season more experienced will surely prove advantageous for not only Dailey but all of the North Dakota seniors.
Transferring from a different school is already difficult. Melissa Dailey transferred schools but also transferred across time zones to play at the University of North Dakota. The result has been her fitting in with an already cohesive team. Now, she is at the center of it all, leading the ball up and down the floor as well as leading North Dakota in the locker room.