‘Gosh, she’s special’: Kim Mulkey, LSU women’s basketball players praise Iowa’s Caitlin Clark

The Tigers head coach watched Clark for the first time on Friday in the Final Four — and she couldn’t believe what she saw.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark acknowledges the crowd during a 2023 NCAA women’s Final Four game between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Iowa at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, March 31, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gamecocks, 77-73, to advance to the National Championship Game.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

DALLAS — LSU head coach Kim Mulkey has ample experience in the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

Mulkey has been coaching for 23 years and has won the national title three times — 2005, 2012, 2019 — when she was the head coach at Baylor, as well as a Final Four berth in 2015.

But through all her years of coaching, Mulkey has never seen a player like Iowa junior point guard and National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player that can do what Caitlin does,” Mulkey said. “She’s going to get her points. That girl is phenomenal shooting the ball. But the most impressive thing to me, now that you’re talking to an old point guard, is she makes everybody around her better. You have great players that can get numbers, but she makes others on her team better.”

Clark scored over half of the Hawkeyes’ points to lead Iowa to an otherworldly upset of undefeated defending champion South Carolina, 77-73, in the Final Four on Friday night. Her 41 points were the most in a national semifinal game in history, and she added on six rebounds and eight assists.

And Mulkey had a chance to watch her in-person for the first time on Friday night.

The Tigers played in the first game of the night on Friday, taking down Virginia Tech, 79-72. After Mulkey got out of her postgame press conference, she went to the floor to scout Clark and the rest of the Hawkeyes.

“When I did get out there, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her,” Mulkey said. “Gosh, she’s special. She’s special.”

When it comes to scouting the Hawkeyes, Mulkey was baffled on how to defend Clark. While watching film, she said her coaching staff would decide on a strategy to contain Clark. Then, after they watched more film, and they realized the strategy they just came up with wouldn’t work.

So, the Tigers have a Plan A to defend Clark on Sunday. If that doesn’t work, they have a Plan B.

And containing Clark is the key to victory for the Tigers.

“I just think we have to contain Caitlin,” LSU senior guardAlexis Morris said. “You know, make everyone know, or make somebody else beat us, man. Like make somebody else step up to the plate and take those tough contested shots. But like there’s got to be a team effort.”

But if the Tigers can’t stop Clark, the least they can do is try to stop the Hawkeyes’ supporting cast.

Hawkeye senior center Monika Czinano finished with 18 points in the paint on Friday night. Senior guard Kate Martin added on eight, while forward McKenna Warnock had five. And while senior guard Gabbie Marshall didn’t record any points, she was the Hawkeyes’ top defender, notching three steals.

“Caitlin Clark is a great player,” LSU sophomore forward Angel Reese said. “It’s going to be tough to stop her from getting her points, but being able to just contain her and not letting the supporting cast, her other teammates go off. I think that’s just something that’s going to be important.”

Second-seeded Iowa will take on third-seeded LSU in the national championship game on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The game will air on ABC.