A ‘work in progress,’ but Clark has built a strong foundation

By John Bohnenkamp

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark was named the Big Ten’s women’s basketball player of the week and freshman of the week on Monday.

Her coach, though, called Clark “a work in progress.”

It’s an interesting thought about what could be coming next after just three games.

Clark, a point guard who has taken control of Iowa’s offense, ranks eighth nationally in scoring at 26.7 points per game while running an offense that ranks eighth nationally at 94.7 points per game. Clark isn’t just a scorer — she ranks eighth nationally in assists per game at 7.3.

But there is a maturity in her game that will only grow the more she plays.

“Every single game, she’s learning a little bit more,” Iowa center Monika Czinano said. “I really see progress every single day.”

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder enjoys Clark’s confidence, but knows she has plenty to learn.

“I may not be the one that looks for her to score, but she has different ideas sometimes, and will look to score,” Bluder said. “And I wouldn’t expect anything different from Caitlin. That’s the type of player she is. She’s explosive offensively. I want her to look for her shot. But I also just need her to understand the difference between a good shot and a great shot. And there is a difference, especially at this level, and with the people you’re surrounded by.

“What she’s been doing has been remarkable. And I’m so happy for her. But it’s going to be a work in progress, definitely.”

“That’s just part of my game — I’m looking for my shot,” Clark said. “I’m a scoring point guard, but I also pass the ball really well. That’s just my game and who I am.”

Clark became the first Big Ten player to be honored with both awards in a single week since Nebraska’s Jessica Shepard on Jan. 25, 2016.

Clark averaged 26.5 points, nine assists, four rebounds, and 2.5 steals in the Hawkeyes wins over Drake and Wisconsin. She had 30 points, 13 assists, four steals, three rebounds, and a blocked shot in Iowa’s 103-97 win over Drake. She had 23 points, five assists, five rebounds, and a steal in Saturday’s 85-78 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener.

Clark is an assertive player, one who has found a perfect offense with the Hawkeyes, who run with a tempo that Clark has played in over the years, either at the high school, AAU or international level.

“I’ve always been on teams that have played fast-paced, so that transition wasn’t that hard,” Clark said.

There is a tendency, though, for Clark to force the action. She has 13 turnovers against 22 assists, and she leads the team with 59 shot attempts.

Some of the turnovers, Bluder said, come from the adjustment to the speed of the college game. The passes she got away with in high school might get taken away now.

“I think, sometimes, again, that’s (being a) freshman, and learning the quickness,” Bluder said. “It’s very different from what you go against in high school.

“And that’s just going to take time.”

Photo: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark comes up with the steal in last week’s game at Drake. (Stephen Mally/hawkeyesports.com)

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