As a lifelong Iowa Hawkeye fan there are moments that stick in my memory. Steve Waite’s “And One” to get Lute’s 1980 team past Georgetown for the Final Four. Rob Houghtlin kicking the Hawks past Michigan. Kevin Gamble calling “game” against Oklahoma to propel the Hawks to the Elite Eight. Drew Tate to Warren Holloway. 7 got 6 vs MSU. And then there’s Caitlin Clark. Clark’s game-winners are famous. What’s more impressive is the body of work that Clark has accomplished. Here is what she has done:
Clark has consistently been the most productive player in college basketball for the past four years. In her first year at Iowa, I found myself saying, “bad shot” a few times a game regarding her shot selection. I feel like I know the game of basketball pretty well. I soon realized that what Clark does defies what “normal” people do on the basketball court. There isn’t a game where I don’t shake my head at a shot she makes or a pass that she threads through the defense. Clark hits shots off the dribble which takes an incredible amount of strength. Her logo 3’s require a great deal of strength and stamina, especially over the course of a game and a season. Her vision is uncanny. She makes passes that most people don’t even see, let alone attempt, let alone complete.
Clark is at her best in transition. Iowa basketball fans have been spoiled with Dr. Tom Davis’ fast-breaking teams. Fran McCaffery’s teams get the ball down the court as fast as any team in the college game. Lisa Bluder and Caitlin Clark get the ball out in transition unlike any team around. The amount of pressure this puts on the defense is immeasurable. There are people who complain that Clark gets all of the calls. I would like to point out that Clark forces defenses to either foul her or let her score. She can’t be stopped as she can shoot from distance, midrange, or take it to the basket. Oh, yeah, she also absolutely loves assists, so if you throw the kitchen sink at her, she will gladly make a pass and run down the other way. Two or three more points for the Hawks. If I were to gameplan against her, I’d tell my players they have to be physical against her. The refs can’t and won’t call every foul. That’s it. Otherwise, I’d be at a loss for stopping her.
As Clark continues to climb the mountain of all-time scoring leader in NCAA women’s hoops, her celebrity is growing exponentially. Northwestern, not a great basketball team, had never sold out a women’s game. It was said that fans arrived at 10 am to stand in line for general admission seating for a 7 pm game. Iowa has played in front of a sell-out crowd almost every game this year. Arenas are packed to catch a glimpse of this superstar. What’s most heartwarming is that young girls all over the world are inspired that they too can be great. Women’s basketball is skyrocketing and to be honest, much of it is number 22. That comes off as pretty conceited, I’m sure, but it’s the truth. Clark has what feels like a Beatles following. I can also see where other fanbases are tired of hearing about her. I get that as well. But announcers are in disbelief at the crowds she brings, her play on the court, and the humble, team-centered interviews she gives. How can you not be enthralled with what she is doing? Lisa Bluder deserves a great deal of credit for how Clark goes about her business. Bluder focuses on quality people playing together as a team. There could be jealousy on this squad, but if you watch them play, there is only love. I can’t believe I even typed that, but it’s true.
So Hawk fans (and college basketball fans), let’s enjoy this last month or so of the Caitlin Clark show. Would we love one more year of video game stats and victories? Of course. But it’s time for Clark to move on. Clark more than likely won’t put up these numbers in the WNBA (at least right away), but she absolutely will grow that league like no one has done before. It’s pretty cool that Caitlin came from little old Iowa. As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye! Go Hawks!