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Clark’s Iowa profession ends in defeat, however no regrets

Michael Voepel, ESPN.comApr 7, 2024, 08:37 PM ET Close Michael Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996. CLEVELAND — There were mostly smiles from Caitlin Clark after Sunday’s national championship game, an 87-75 loss to

Clark’s Iowa profession ends in defeat, however no regrets

  • Michael Voepel, ESPN.comApr 7, 2024, 08:37 PM ET

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      Michael Voepel covers the WNBA, ladies’s school basketball, and different school sports activities for espnW. Voepel started protecting ladies’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

CLEVELAND — There have been principally smiles from Caitlin Clark after Sunday’s nationwide championship sport, an 87-75 loss to South Carolina that ended her Iowa profession. She admitted the finality of this a part of her journey would hit her within the subsequent 48 hours or so, however for the second, nonetheless sitting in her black and gold Iowa uniform, her overwhelming emotion was gratitude.

Clark opted to remain in her dwelling state for faculty, although Iowa had been to just one Closing 4: in 1993, 9 years earlier than Clark was born. She believed she may assist lead the Hawkeyes again there, and she or he did — twice. The Hawkeyes misplaced their NCAA finals to 2 SEC powerhouses: South Carolina this 12 months and LSU final 12 months.

However Sunday, Clark was considering extra in regards to the entirety of her school profession.

“Whether or not it is the way in which the followers have supported me, the way in which I have been capable of characterize my state the place I grew up, my household being at each single sport — there’s not a remorse in my thoughts of how issues went,” Clark stated. “I am going to be capable of sleep each night time although I by no means received a nationwide championship.

“I do not sit and sulk in regards to the issues that by no means occurred. My mother at all times taught me, ‘Hold your head excessive, be pleased with the whole lot that you have completed.’ And, you understand, I feel I am so hungry for lots extra, too.”

Clark is the overwhelming favourite to be the No. 1 choose within the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever on April 15. She was requested if realizing that she’s going to begin one other season in about 5 weeks made the conclusion of her school profession any simpler.

“I feel it helps,” Clark stated. “What higher solution to practice and put together for my subsequent step in life than enjoying within the Closing 4? I am going to be capable of play my first WNBA sport right here quickly.

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“These moments are going to make me prepared for the subsequent chapter on my life, but in addition [I want to] take pleasure in this one, too.”

Iowa did nearly the whole lot the previous two seasons besides win the NCAA title. Final 12 months, the Hawkeyes upset 36-0 South Carolina within the semifinals. This 12 months, they beat defending nationwide champion LSU within the Elite Eight and 11-time NCAA champion UConn within the Closing 4.

“It is actually laborious to win this stuff. I feel I in all probability know that higher than most individuals by now,” Clark stated. “To be so shut twice, it undoubtedly hurts. However on the similar time, we have been proper there. We battled. We took down some actually nice groups to get again so far.”

Clark had 30 factors, 8 rebounds and 5 assists Sunday. She began out scorching within the first quarter with 18 factors, however South Carolina’s protection obtained higher after that.

“I believed they pressured the ball rather well,” Clark stated. “Whenever you rise up so far within the match, all people’s protection is nice.

“I do not suppose there was something we did not do this we may have to actually assist ourselves. It could have been good to make a number of extra pictures. I believed they contested effectively on stuff. You might say rebound [better], however we have been attempting our greatest. That is all you possibly can actually ask.”

Clark did all that coach Lisa Bluder and the Iowa employees may have requested of her these previous 4 seasons. She leaves as not simply one of the best participant in Iowa historical past, however probably the greatest in NCAA historical past.

“She moved needles, she did issues that nobody was doing aside from Steph Curry, capturing from the place she shot, however by no means shedding her sense of enjoyable and aptitude,” stated longtime Iowa assistant coach Jan Jensen, who made numerous drives from Iowa Metropolis to Clark’s hometown of West Des Moines to look at her play in the course of the recruiting course of. “I want we may have helped her get us to the title … However most individuals can respect her greatness. Possibly they will not name her ‘GOAT’ … However she’ll at all times be our GOAT.”

Her listing of NCAA data is prodigious. She completed with extra factors — 3,951 — than any males’s or ladies’s participant ever in Division I. She is the one D-I ladies’s participant to have greater than 3,000 factors and 1,000 assists in her profession, totaling 1,144 assists. She additionally had 990 rebounds.

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Her 28.42 factors per sport and 548 3-pointers are each D-I profession data, and this 12 months’s 201 3-pointers and 1,234 factors are D-I single-season data.

“Whether or not it is the way in which the followers have supported me, the way in which I have been capable of characterize my state the place I grew up, my household being at each single sport — there’s not a remorse in my thoughts of how issues went. I am going to be capable of sleep each night time although I by no means received a nationwide championship.”

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark

“These issues are so laborious to perform,” Clark stated. “That was by no means one thing I used to be chasing in my profession [or] something I ever got down to do. I’ve to provide Coach Bluder loads of credit score as a result of she’s allowed me to be myself.

“Whether or not it is the pictures I take, the fireplace I play with … She’s allowed me to be me, and I do not know if there’s many coaches throughout the nation that I may have dedicated to that might have allowed me to try this. I would not have had any such profession.”

Clark stated the surge in reputation of girls’s basketball has been thrilling for her to witness and be part of, and that can proceed within the WNBA.

“This workforce got here alongside at a extremely good time, whether or not it was social media, whether or not it was NIL, whether or not it was our video games being nationally televised,” Clark stated of the Hawkeyes. “It doesn’t matter what sport it’s, give them the identical alternatives, imagine in them the identical, put money into them the identical, and issues are actually going to thrive.

“You see it with different sports activities, and I am a giant fan of different sports activities. I attempt to assist as a lot as I can, and I feel that is the most important factor: Proceed to speculate your time, cash and assets there, and proceed to point out up for these individuals and provides them the alternatives.”

Clark additionally hopes that the gang that flocked to see her Iowa groups retains coming to Carver-Hawkeye Enviornment, which was bought out for each sport this season.

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“Once I replicate again on my [Iowa] profession, I do know I gave it each single factor I had,” Clark stated. “Mainly, all people believed there is no method Iowa was making the Closing 4 as soon as. However to do it twice? That is fairly unimaginable.”

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