Janae Moore is trying to set a standard.
The Dickinson State sophomore has the attitude and demeanor of an upperclassman — of which there aren’t many on the Blue Hawks’ roster — and all season she has played like one too.
“That’s what makes me most excited is if she just stayed where she is right now, she’s a great player,” DSU first-year head coach Caleb Harrison said. “We’ll get to the end of the season and her numbers are going to go up and she’s going to be playing at an even higher level.”
Moore, a 5-foot-11 forward from Sidney, Mont., leads the Blue Hawks in just about every major category coaches expect a frontcourt starter to lead — and even some they wouldn’t.
She is averaging team bests of 13.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game and leads the Frontier Conference in shooting, connecting on 54 percent of her shots from the field.
“I think it helps that a lot of the shots I take are around the rim,” Moore said with a smile.
But she isn’t just crowding the lane and waiting for put-back layups.
The right-hander who loves to drive left has a knack for slashing past defenders, powering to the hoop and mixes in a good amount of mid-range, pull-up jumpers.
“She’s a Division I athlete,” Harrison said. “Her strength, her speed, her power. She’s a big-time athlete. It makes it easier to coach when you’ve got someone like that because she’s got some skill things she needs to work on. She’s got that athletic base she can build everything on.”
But it didn’t come without some work.
In the offseason, while others worked on their upper bodies and arm strength, Moore focused on her legs and lower body.
She wanted to improve her leaping ability, which she knew would help her crash the boards and generate easier looks on the offensive end.
The end goal was to transition from a role player — she averaged 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds as a freshman — to one of the Blue Hawks’ top contributors, which she has accomplished nicely.
“My entire mindset is different than last year,” Moore said. “Last year, I was a role player. I came in on defense, I wasn’t an offensive threat. I knew that I could be. This year, I knew coming in I could be more of an offensive presence on the floor so I started working on that more.”
Moore has had to become a force for the Blue Hawks, somewhat out of necessity.
She ranks fifth in the Frontier in scoring and fourth in both rebounding and steals. She had four double-doubles, including in the first game of the season when she had 17 points and 16 rebounds in a 71-57 win over the University of Manitoba.
“I wouldn’t have expected these kinds of numbers,” Harrison said. “She’s one of the better players in the conference right now, as a sophomore. It’s exciting to have her as part of our program and exciting to know we’ve got her for another two years after this as well.”
Though Moore will be around for another two seasons, she’s still very much considered one of DSU’s many underclassmen.
Aside from bright turns out of Moore and center Jess Bygate — the Blue Hawks’ lone sophomores with Jordyn Bender sidelined because of an injury — youth has been one of the team’s weakest points this season.
Moore has had to play like an experienced upperclassman because, at this point, she is one.
DSU has three seniors and two juniors. But behind them are eight freshmen, only three of whom are playing this season.
Though the Blue Hawks have a 5-11 overall record and are off to a 0-3 start in Frontier play, Moore said this season is becoming more about improving for the future.
“It’s setting a standard for the younger girls,” Moore said. “That’s what they need to be ready to do next year.”
With all eyes on the future, at least one DSU senior believes Moore is well on her way to setting the standard for DSU basketball.
“I think Janae is probably going to break records,” DSU guard Ashley Jelly said. “Her senior year, people on other teams will be comparing her to what they want (other players) to be like. I think she’s the future of DSU basketball, without a doubt.”