Caitlin Clark still learning ahead of Iowa State matchup

The freshman point guard has three games under her belt, but she is still learning to be a vocal leader on the court.

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Iowa Guard Caitlin Clark goes in for a layup during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, December 5, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers 85-78.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter


Iowa women’s basketball freshman point guard Caitlin Clark joined elite company ahead of Iowa’s matchup against Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk series.

Clark was named the Player and Freshman of the Week for Big Ten Women’s Basketball on Monday. Through two weeks of the season, this is Clark’s first Player of the Week honor and her second for Freshman of the Week.

“[Receiving those honors] is something that’s very hard for a freshman to do,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “That’s rare air to be in with that group.”

In each of the first three games of the season, Clark has scored over 20 points. She leads the team with an average of 26.1 points per game. She has also tallied 22 assists, highlighted by her 13-assist game against Drake.

As the season continues, Clark said she’s getting more comfortable on the court in the point guard position.

“I think our captains do a really great job, just listening to me and helping guide me through that process, because this is all new to me too,” Clark said. “I have a lot of thoughts, and at first I was quiet and didn’t really say what was on my mind, but as time has gone on, I’ve gotten more comfortable in seeing those things and being able to say them more.”

Though Clark has had impressive stats on the season, she has had a problem with turnovers — recording at least four in every game.

“I think sometimes that’s freshmen and learning the quickness that you’re going to — it’s very different to go against than it is in high school,” Bluder said. “So those passes that might have been there in high school, because someone was maybe one stride ahead, are not going to be there now. And that’s just going to take time.”

Clark noted she is still working on relying on her teammates during games, especially junior center Monika Czinano, who has noticed improvements in Clark from the beginning of the season.

RELATED: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark named Big Ten Women’s Basketball Freshman and Player of the Week

“I think every single game, she’s been learning a little bit more and taking a little bit from it,” Czinano said. “Obviously it’s a really weird year, and her being a freshman on top of it all — it’s tough, but I really see progress every single day in practice and games, so I’m really looking forward to how that’s going to progress down the line.”

As a West Des Moines native, Clark has played with many of Iowa State’s most impactful players, including junior guard Ashley Joens.

The Hawkeyes will have to look out for Joens, who started all 29 games last year for the Cyclones. Last season, Joens was the only player in the nation to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.

“[Joens] is a heck of a player,” Clark said. “We were really, really, good in AAU together, we had quite the team … we obviously won a gold medal together, so that was a really cool experience to share, especially as two girls from Iowa — not many people would’ve thought that would happen. So, that’s cool for sure, but she’s a great player and I’m excited … it’ll be one of my first times going against her.”

The 2-2 Cyclones are ranked No. 24 in this week’s coaches poll, but Iowa has won the last four matchups, dating back to the 2016-17 season. Since the Cy-Hawk trophy originated in 2004, Iowa holds a 9-7 lead in the series.

The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game is going to look and sound a little different this year. Usually, this game is one of the best attended for Iowa women’s basketball. Last season at Hilton Coliseum, there were over 10,000 attendees for the in-state rivalry.

“With this Iowa State game coming in, it’s a little different feel, especially with no fans,” Bluder said. “We lose that advantage, unfortunately. But we’re still going to play at home in Carver, and we’re comfortable playing at home in Carver.”

The Hawkeyes will look to add to their 38-game home win streak on Wednesday. Tipoff against Iowa State is at 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed on BTN Plus.

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