Caitlin Clark increases Iowa women’s basketball team’s national presence

The preseason All-American, who has been featured on multiple national Twitter accounts, has given the Hawkeyes unprecedented attention.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark drives to the basket during a women’s basketball game between No. 25 Iowa and Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. Clark scored 18 points. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 82-56.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

In almost two years on the University of Iowa campus, sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark has brought national attention to the Hawkeye women’s basketball team.

Clark has been featured on the SportsCenter, ESPN Women’s Hoops, and Yahoo Sports Twitter pages throughout the 2021-22 season — putting the Iowa women’s basketball team’s national presence in uncharted waters.

“She’s bringing national attention to our team,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I’m getting text messages from people like [college basketball analyst] Debbie Antonelli after watching our games, like, ‘Wow, this is so much fun to watch Caitlin.’ Or there was a situation last game where people were sitting next to a family from Columbia, Missouri, to come down here and they’re wearing Iowa shirts, but they wanted to see Caitlin.”

Bluder knows that Clark’s national presence has a positive impact on the entire Iowa women’s basketball program.

“When Caitlin’s light shines, it shines on all of us,” Bluder said. “Even if we’re in a supporting role, even if we’re holding the camera. It shines on everybody, and that’s good for our program, it’s good for the university, and it’s certainly good for all of us involved.”

Clark dropped two consecutive 30-point triple-doubles against Nebraska and Minnesota on Jan. 16 and 20, respectively. The point guard became just one of seven players in the NBA, WNBA, and Division I men’s and women’s basketball to achieve the feat, joining Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Luka Dončić, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Although her achievement garnered national attention, Clark knows her feat was the result of a complete team effort.

“I’m held to a really high standard, as is everyone else in this program,” Clark said. “I think getting praise where it’s due but not overdoing it is something Bluder is really good about, no matter who it is. Obviously, a lot of the attention comes to me, and that’s really good for our program, but I always tell my teammates that I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them.”

Just five days after the Hawkeyes played against Minnesota, Clark dished out 18 assists against Penn State on Jan. 23 — an Iowa women’s basketball program and Big Ten women’s basketball record.

RELATED: No. 23 Iowa women’s basketball takes down Northwestern in overtime

Overall, the Hawkeyes had 37 assists on 43 made shots against Penn State — another program record.

Clark’s main target to grab assists is senior center Monika Czinano. When Clark hurls the ball from the 3-point line to the paint, Czinano drops in a layup.

“I don’t know where Caitlin would be without Monika Czinano,” Bluder said. “And I think she understands that too, I think that’s her assist machine, right, that’s where she gets all of them. I don’t know where she would be without McKenna Warnock … Where would she be without [junior guard Gabbie Marshall’s defense]? I think Caitlin is smart enough to understand that.

“One of our values is that everyone matters,” Bluder added. “And we try to live by that every single day … It doesn’t matter if you’re the leading scorer or hardly ever get off the bench, or if you’re injured this year, you are an important asset to our team.”

On Monday, No. 23 Iowa will take on its second ranked opponent of the season in No. 22 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes do not yet have a victory over a ranked opponent, as they lost to then-No. 15 Iowa State on Dec. 8.

The Hawkeyes will compete against multiple ranked opponents in the last month of the regular season, including No. 7 Michigan twice and No. 6 Indiana once.

The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes will tip off at 8 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will air on Big Ten Network.