Iowa men’s, women’s basketball teams host Hawkeye Hoops from Downtown in Iowa City

The two squads went through a variety of shooting competitions, including one between reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Caitlin Clark and “Big Noon Kickoff” co-host Matt Leinart.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Citlin Clark and Fox analyst Matt Leinart interact during the Hawkeye Hoops from downtown on Sept. 30, 2022.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s and women’s basketball teams hosted Hawkeye Hoops from Downtown in Iowa City on Friday, engaging in shooting competitions with each other, fans, and “Big Noon Kickoff” hosts.

The first competition of the night was a battle between women’s basketball guard Caitlin Clark and “Big Noon Kickoff” hosts Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Leinart, a former USC quarterback, showed up to the event wearing an Iowa T-shirt.

Leinart plugged the competition on Thursday over Twitter, telling Clark to “name the bet.”


But on Friday, just hours before the matchup, Leinart said he was nervous to go up against the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year.

“She’s like the best player in college basketball and she’s like, gonna be the No. 1 pick in the draft at some point, but it’s exciting, it’s fun,” Leinart said. “… Obviously Caitlin and her basketball team are unbelievable. I mean, they’re one of the best in the country.”

Clark got off to a slow start, but she picked up her pace to make five consecutive shots and blow out Leinart and Bush.


“I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit of smack on Twitter, and let’s just say she kicked my ass,” Leinart said.

Hawkeye men and women face off

Women’s basketball freshman Jada Gyamfi and men’s basketball junior Ahron Ulis teamed up in a shooting competition against sophomore Sharon Goodman and junior Tony Perkins. Goodman and Perkins got off to an early lead and didn’t let it go, winning 31-16.

Then, Clark and junior Kris Murray teamed up against senior Gabbie Marshall and junior Payton Sanfort in a three-point contest. Each team member had to shoot for a minute and a half — 30 seconds on each wing, and 30 seconds at the top of the key.

Clark and Marshall took the court first and made 10 shots each, leaving it up to Murray and Sandfort to decide the outcome. Sandfort started out strong, draining his first two shots. Murray couldn’t find his form, making just seven shots to Sandfort’s 14.

“[My performance] wasn’t good,” Murray said following the competition. “I think I gave all my made threes in practice today.”

Fans get involved in competition

Clark said she’s happy the Hawkeyes are putting on a downtown event.

“It’s fun being out here in front of fans,” Clark said. “Win or lose, doesn’t really matter. Just to get the fans excited about the season, that’s all you can really ask for.”

Friday was the first time Iowa men’s and women’s basketball hosted an event downtown. Men’s basketball senior Connor McCaffery said he would love for the Hawkeyes to do more events like this in the future, as it gives the fans a chance to get to know the players better.

“This was awesome,” McCaffery said. “And I thought the turnout was great. The Hawkeye fans came out. And we really enjoyed it, you know, from our entire team. I know the women’s team did as well. It’s been awesome.”

Fans got involved in the final competition of the event involving players from both teams, when senior Kate Martin and junior Patrick McCaffery both teamed up with one kid.

Each kid made 11 shots, leaving it up to Martin and Patrick McCaffery to break the tie with a sudden-death halfcourt shooting competition.

After missing the first two, Patrick McCaffery hit his third shot and emerged victorious.

“I’ll just get back into the gym and keep practicing my half court shot,” Martin said jokingly. “And if I ever have a last second buzzer beater, then, you know I’ve been practicing it.”

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