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Caitlin Clark’s exceptional shooting range solidifies her as a standout in women’s college basketball


IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when it was determined in Iowa that any shot that left Caitlin Clark’s hands was not just a reasonable shot, but also a good shot. Because there are green lights, and then there are green lights. And Clark has matter-of-factly operated in the latter for much of her career.

But there’s a solid argument to be made that it was Feb. 6, 2022.It was Clark’s sophomore season, and while she had been putting up big numbers, she wasn’t yet considered the one-woman wrecking crew that she has now become. To get to that level of lore, a player needs to not just throw the rocks but slay Goliath. And at that point, though she was a massive scorer, she was on a team that hadn’t yet taken down the best opponents. The Hawkeyes were 1-9 against top-25 teams in her career and they were on the road facing No. 6 Michigan.

She started the game with a step-back from the free throw line and followed up with a pull-up triple. She tossed in some drives and more mid-ranges, but the real treat came when she began hitting logo 3s during the fourth quarter as the Hawkeyes (read: Clark) attempted to pull off the upset. In one 92-second span she hit three transition 3s, the final while being swarmed by Michigan defenders who Clark put on skates. She finished with 46 points. Though Iowa still lost, something in that night shifted.

As the broadcasters shouted through their mics after yet another logo triple, “What did she do? What did she just do?” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder walked calmly along the sideline, not even surprised or elated enough to uncross her arms. Without context, she simply looks like a coach saying same old, same old as she turned to her bench.

“At first, when you’re coaching her, it’s kind of entertaining in practice when she takes some of those and makes some of those shots. But then in games as the coach, you’re thinking, ‘Oof, that’s not advised,’ ” Bluder said. “But there’s the point where you realize, ‘She’s different than everyone else and she can actually make these at a pretty alarming rate.’“

“There was a shift in my mind,” she added. “At that point it was like, ‘OK, we’re going to go with this.’”
“This” as in: For Clark, anything goes.

And since Feb. 6, 2022, this has worked pretty well for both Clark and Iowa. The senior is now 39 points shy of the NCAA women’s basketball scoring record, and the Hawkeyes, who slayed South Carolina — the Goliath of women’s basketball — in last season’s Final Four, are now recognized nationally as a powerhouse and firmly nationally ranked No. 2 this season behind the Gamecocks.

Clark is a recognized name outside of the women’s basketball world, a player who is shadowed by security officers before and after games and at public events. She has NIL partnerships with Nike, State Farm and Gatorade. She is the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft if she declares, and the biggest headache for opposing coaches in women’s college hoops if she opts to return for her fifth year.

Ask coaches who’ve faced her (or who fear they could down the line), and they’ll all explain the same thing: You don’t stop her. You might slow her down, you might make her more inefficient, but there is no stopping Clark. When Clark dropped those 46 points on Michigan in 2022, Wolverine coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the game, “I didn’t even know what the heck was going on.”


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