If you're a casual basketball fan, or find yourself focusing strictly on men's hoops headlines, you may be unfamiliar with the magic happening in NCAA women's basketball. Iowa junior Caitlin Clark has electrified Hawkeyes basketball, eliciting roaring crowds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and drawing the attention of some of the biggest names in basketball.
The Golden State Warriors' four-time NBA champion and 3-point assassin Steph Curry, who many believe is the greatest shooter to ever play the game, said this about the Hawkeyes superstar: "No shot is a bad shot when you can shoot it as well as she can. When you watch (Iowa) play, she just adds the element of surprise that you can't really game-plan for. Because it's so unseen in the sense of when she crosses half court, she's in her range."
The astounding action oozing from the Hawkeyes leader has brought her a second straight Big Ten Player of the Year recognition, as well as the highest honor a college baller can receive — being named the 2023 Naismith Player of the Year. "Winning the Naismith Trophy is such a huge honor for my family and our program," Clark said. "None of this would be possible without my tremendous support system. I want to also thank Lisa Bluder for giving me the opportunity to play at Iowa and really thrive during my time here."
She is a jaw-dropping, astoundingly sensational player who has undeniably made Hawkeyes basketball must-see TV. In fact, some might say she's the most thrilling basketball player on the court, and not just in women's basketball but in basketball, period.
Caitlin Clark's Hawkeyes Crush NBA Ratings To Advance to Final Four
It's been a wild year for NCAA brackets — upsets galore and history being made on the men's side with no No. 1 seeds advancing to Elite Eight action for the first time in tournament history. However, for the collegiate women fighting for a NCAA championship, the recurring storyline has been Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
For a lot of athletes, the mounting pressure of advancing in the NCAA Tournament can overwhelm their game and cause them to stumble. The Hawkeyes junior guard has done everything but crumble. Clark has met the moment with historic athleticism. The Hawkeyes star put up an outrageous 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in Sunday's Elite Eight matchup against Louisville. Before then, we'd never witnessed a 30-point triple double in either NCAA Tournament's history, and Clark blew past that with 41. And it was the shooting savant's fifth triple-double of the season and 11th of her career. The Hawkeyes trailblazer also became the first player in Division I history to tally 900-plus points and 300-plus assists in a single season.
Iowa's "how do we guard her" Clark has already cultivated such an impressive resume that her power has translated from hardwood to ratings gold. The Hawkeyes' Elite Eight meeting with Hailey Van Lith's Louisville Cardinals proved that sports fans will proudly watch women's basketball, especially when the talent is as undeniable as the Hawkeyes' roster. Their Elite Eight tournament game drew a whopping 2.499 million viewers — more than any NBA game ESPN has aired this entire season. The Hawkeyes' win was also the highest-rated and -viewed broadcast on cable that Sunday.
That's right: Clark's excellence was witnessed by more viewers than anything else on cable that day AND more than any NBA game this entire season. And in case you're unaware, this NBA season has been anything but a snooze fest; just take a peek at the tightly contested playoffs race. It just goes to show that basketball fans will tune in in record numbers to watch powerful players, and Clark's Iowa Hawkeyes ooze power. Iowa's basketball prowess has proved that female athletes can grow the game and in record fashion.
The Circle is Tight
After Clark made history against Louisville, legendary ESPN telecaster Holly Rowe spoke with her about the win, and the Big 10 Player of the Year talked about the team's love for each other, sharing, "We play for one another, and that's going to take you really far, and that's what it's about. Our circle's tight. And more than anything, we're best friends — and that will carry you a really long way."
One of the biggest draws for Iowa basketball is, as Hawkeyes fans lovingly say, the law firm of Clark and Czinano. The law firm title has been bestowed upon the unstoppable connection between the Iowa guard and mighty post powerhouse that is Monika Czinano. A formidable force, Iowa center Czinano and shooting star Clark have become one of college basketball's most dominant duos. They've set statistical records never reached in the WNBA and only achieved three times in NBA history — combining as teammates to lead Division I women's basketball in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage. The formidable Iowa duo has risen to every challenge laid before them and continues to amaze.
The chemistry the Hawkeyes have is the heartbeat of what makes them indisputably powerful. It's not just the dominance from the law firm of Clark and Czinano. It's also the relentless drive of Gabbie Marshall; the clutch play of McKenna Warnock; the reliability of Kate Martin; and the dedicated leadership from associate head coach Jan Jensen and Iowa's all-time winningest head coach, Lisa Bluder.
Iowa's season has truly been a well-rounded team success; and with as many weapons as the Hawkeyes possess, it's a daunting task to guard them.
Clark herself has her eyes up during every second of play and can shoot the basketball effectively from basically anywhere her feet are planted. And if you put two defenders on the Iowa native, she's bound to convert a seemingly impassable pass into a successful assist. It's just what she does. Her greatness cannot be denied.
The Power of Caitlin Clark Has Captivated Basketball Fans Everywhere
As if demolishing the league's ratings wasn't enough, Clark and the Hawkeyes have dominated basketball Twitter, drawing attention from a wide array of sports fans.
New York Times best-selling author, pop culture enthusiast and basketball aficionado Shea Serrano joked about how to guard Clark:
Caitlin Clark is really like that ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 27, 2023
Former WWE superstar-turned-movie-star John Cena chimed in on Clark's amazing ability to give the fans what they want:
Even if they could see you?they couldn?t guard you!
— John Cena (@JohnCena) March 28, 2023
Legendary Laker Magic Johnson took to Twitter to congratulate the star and later added, "What makes Caitlin's 40-point triple-double so special is the fact so many players never had one, not me, Michael Jordan, or Larry Bird!"
I want to give a lot of love to superstar Caitlin Clark after she recorded 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in Iowa?s over win over Louisville! She?s the first player ever to record a 40-point triple-double in a men?s or women?s NCAA Tournament game. @caitlinclark22
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 28, 2023
In one of my favorite Clark stan tweets, long-standing American sports writer Rick Reilly jokingly delivered one of the best about the young basketball phenom:
The most thrilling player in March Madness weighs less than the equipment guy, swishes bombs from the logo and won't be playing on CBS. Caitlin Clark of Iowa is the best thing you'll see on TV this weekend, incl. Ted Lasso. Fri 4:30 PT ESPN. Dont miss Steph Curry in a ponytail. pic.twitter.com/7TbktiheHz
— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) March 23, 2023
The Road to a Championship Continues
It's clear that Iowa is quickly becoming widely known for Caitlin Clark. And at the pace the record-breaking junior guard is going, it won't be long before she's eclipsing corn, "Field Of Dreams," Pella Windows, "Music Man" and Templeton Rye as the first thing people think of when they think of Iowa. It seems like a Midwestern storybook outcome for the Iowa native, who still has years of epic, history-making basketball ahead of her.
For now, the Hawkeyes will focus on their first trip to the Final Four since 1993. The women of Iowa will face off against Aliyah Boston and the South Carolina Gamecocks in hopes of advancing to their first NCAA championship. Despite Clark's influence, the Gamecocks are heavily favored over Iowa, putting the undeniable talent in the unfamiliar position of underdog. However, if the Hawkeyes can continue their streak of offensive dominance, they could bring the state of Iowa its first and only NCAA championship trophy.
Any time the Iowa women's basketball team laces up, it's guaranteed to be another must-see TV moment for basketball fans across the county. The power of the Clark-led Hawkeyes is propelling college basketball forward and bringing record-breaking numbers of fans to the table. It's crystal clear we're witnessing a legend in the making, as Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes are one of the most exhilaratingly entertaining teams in basketball — and not just women's basketball but all of basketball, period.
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