IOWA CITY, Iowa — Caitlin Clark is the biggest name in college basketball, a sharpshooting supernova who’s the star of what Iowa City residents call “The Show,” a player who 10-time WEuroJournal All-Star Diana Taurasi recently called “an alien” because of her absurd range and spectacular court vision.
She’s also the second-leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history … and she should stay that for another week.
Yes, I’m asking the reigning national player of the year, pretty please, to just be average for one game.
Clark and Iowa next play on Sunday at Nebraska and after scoring 27 vs. Penn State Thursday — five points below her season average — Clark is just 39 points from breaking Kelsey Plum’s all-time NCAA scoring record of 3,527 points, set in 2017.
You might be aware that there’s another game going on Sunday. Clark, a rabid Kansas City Chiefs fan, surely is.
And so she’ll probably understand that on that sacred day, everyone will be focused on football.
Clark has single-handedly drawn hundreds, if not thousands, of eyeballs to women’s basketball. She deserves a day of celebration all to herself. But if she breaks the record Sunday, roughly four hours before Kansas City and San Francisco kick off, she’ll get a blip on SportsCenter, and not much more. If she waits until next Thursday vs. Michigan, she’ll probably get a documentary of sorts.
I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.
Plus, while she’s known for selling out arenas wherever she goes and bringing Iowa fans to every Big Ten city she visits, Clark should break the record at home, in front of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena faithful. The 15,000 fans who pack into the arena every game, often lining up hours before doors open, want to commemorate the moment with her more than anyone else.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder agrees.
“I would rather have her break it at home,” Bluder admitted after Iowa’s win over Penn State. “I think our Carver-Hawkeye fans deserve that. But believe me, our No. 1 priority will be to win the game at Nebraska.”
Of course that’s at the top of Iowa’s to-do list. And I’m not crazy. I’m not suggesting Bluder do anything wild like bench Clark (though realistically, that might be one of the only ways to keep her from scoring). People are selling out visiting arenas to watch her play, some of them paying top dollar, and deserve to get their money’s worth.
The solution is simple: Bluder just needs to tell Clark to not shoot.
For as prolific a scorer as Clark is, she’s an even better passer. Bluder, who watches her more than anyone, has said this repeatedly. Her vision is exceptional, her ability to deliver a pass to a teammate’s shot pocket unmatched in college hoops. Maybe, for just one day, that could shine alone.
Clark’s career high in assists is 18, set against Penn State on Jan. 25, 2022. She has 995 so far in her career, after tallying 15 against Penn State on Thursday, many of them to sophomore post player Hannah Stuelke, who scored a career-high 47 points (that’s one more than Clark’s career high of 46, if anyone’s keeping count).
With just five assists, Clark will become only the sixth woman to record 1,000 career assists. The NCAA single-game record, set in 1991, is 23. Given Clark’s penchant for breaking records, I think she should set her sights on that one and focus on dishing the ball Sunday.
Caitlin Clark scoring 30-plus points? We’re used to that. Caitlin Clark setting a career high in something that doesn’t involve her making buckets?
Now that’s the type of thing that’s worth talking about, even on the biggest sports day of the year.
Follow Lindsay Schnell on social media @Lindsay_Schnell