How wonderful!!! Caitlin Clark becomes women’s all-time leading scorer: Big Ten foe explains why she’s a ‘generational talent’

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Not a single college basketball player has a brighter spotlight on them right now than Caitlin Clark, the new NCAA women’s all-time leading scorer. Clark officially broke the record Thursday with a career-best 49-point performance in Iowa’s 106-89 win over Michigan.

All eyes were on her while she made history, but she didn’t let the pressure distract her. Instead, she set a new Iowa single-game scoring record. The Iowa senior has been embracing the high expectations that have come her way. In fact, Clark lives by a Billie Jean King quote printed in the Hawkeyes’ locker room: “pressure is a privilege.”

“We always talk about pressure as a privilege,” Clark told CBS Sports ahead of the 2023-24 season. ” … You want those expectations. You want people to expect you to be great. That’s what comes with winning a lot of games, being Big Ten champions, making it to the national title game.

“It’s something Coach [Lisa] Bluder always preaches: We have an opportunity here. Enjoy it, embrace it, but don’t ever change the way you play, the way we do things.”

As of Feb. 15, Clark has registered 3,569 career points, surpassing the NCAA women’s record that was previously set by former Washington star Kelsey Plum.

Iowa has the nation’s top offense this season, and Clark is a big reason why as she leads all Division I players in points and assists per game. She’s been exceptional her entire college career, as she’s Iowa’s all-time leading scorer and broke the Big Ten women’s scoring record on Jan. 31 against Northwestern. Over her 126 games with the Hawkeyes, Clark has cleared 20 points 111 times and 30 points on 53 occasions. Her record-breaking game was her 12th 40-point performance.

But what’s impressive about Clark is not just how many points she has scored. It’s the way she does it.

“It’s an adventure coaching Caitlin,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Every single day in practice something crazy is going to happen. I mean, we’re going to get logo 3s, half-court 3s, and so it’s just exciting to coach Caitlin just because you really never know what’s going to happen.”

Clark has become a cultural sensation and is a huge part of why the Hawkeyes sold out every home game this season for the first time in program history. She is not the only reason Iowa has succeeded because winning basketball requires a team effort, but her teammates believe the spotlight Clark gets is well-deserved.

“I think she does a good job of bringing people up with her,” Iowa guard Gabbie Marshall said. “She has a lot of attention on her, and she handles it very well. She wears her crown right, and I think it’s easy to be her teammate because of that, and it’s easy to support her because of that. She’s put our team on the map, truly, and I think there’s no more deserving person than Caitlin.”

Hawkeyes forward Hannah Stuelke, the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, is also complimentary of Clark’s ability to lift her teammates, on and off the court.

“She’s a little weird,” Stuelke joked. “No, I’m just kidding. It’s awesome. She’s an amazing basketball player, she’s a great person. I think just being able to spend almost every day with her is really special.”

But Clark isn’t just getting love from her team. While trying to figure out how to defend her is not a fun task, a very obvious level of respect for Clark exists across the Big Ten.

Rutgers coach Coquese Washington singled out Clark’s demeanor as a reason for Iowa’s rising success and fan interest.

“I think she epitomizes competition,” Washington said. “She epitomizes excellence, she epitomizes joy and love for the game. When you watch Caitlin play, she looks like she’s having a lot of fun out there, and that joy and love for the game seems to rub off on her teammates. It certainly rubs off on the Iowa fan base and the success they’ve had on the court. It makes it easy for her fan base to get behind her. So, I think it’s just that joy that she plays with that makes it so much fun to watch.”

Indiana forward MacKenzie Holmes, last season’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, shared similar views.

“She’s a generational talent, very impressive basketball player,” Holmes said. “I think it’s great she’s getting the recognition because I think it’s really growing the women’s game.”

Indiana guard Chloe Moore-McNeil highlighted Clark’s “great shooting range” and “great IQ,” while Rutgers guard Kaylene Smikle pointed out Clark’s consistency and how hard she is to stop even if you know her next move. Rutgers center Chyna Cornwell, meanwhile, said Clark is a good person off the court and “carries herself in a really respectful manner.”

Clark was already one of the most popular basketball players to watch before this season, but Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff pointed out she has become more dangerous every year because she keeps adding to her game.

“I think when she first got to Iowa, she was a great scorer” McGuff said. “But now, not only is she scoring, she’s just reading the game, seeing the floor and making all of her teammates better, and it’s just really incredible to watch — but very difficult to coach against.”

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico echoed the same message, noting that no specific game can completely stop her.

“She’s a generational talent,” Barnes Arico said. “Just the things that she’s able to do on the basketball court are incredible, and it doesn’t matter what defense you try to throw at her or what different look you try to give her, she still figures out a way to score.”

Clark can shoot the ball from anywhere and has given us some truly incredible highlight this season. 3-pointers from the logo? Bounce passes to the rim from beyond halfcourt? Those seem to be every day occurrences for the Iowa native.

“I think the hardest part about guarding Caitlin Clark is just her motor, her endurance,” Maryland’s Brinae Alexander said. “She just doesn’t stop moving. She might not move as fast or quick as other people, but she just doesn’t stop. So that’s the difference. That’s what separates her.”

In January, Clark registered two consecutive triple-doubles, and one of them was a 40-point performance in which she drained a remarkable buzzer-beating game-winner against Michigan State.

This season, Clark has knocked down the most 3-pointers in all of college basketball. She has been a key figure in bringing increased attention to the women’s game, and the hope is the spotlight she’s placed on the sport keeps shining long after the WNBA comes calling.

“I mean, look at what she does on the court. She’s a generational player,” Illinois coach Shauna Green said. “Hopefully we’ll have more Caitlin Clarks, but I mean, she’s unbelievable. And so when you’re trying to game plan against someone like her — she can literally score from anywhere on the floor — and when you can do that, you’re really, really hard to guard. She’s been great for the game, great for our conference, great for women’s basketball, and she’s an amazing player.”

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