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HomeSportsCaitlin Clark, Indiana Fever look to turn around season

Caitlin Clark, Indiana Fever look to turn around season

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates with center Temi Fagbenle (14) and forward Aliyah Boston (7) in the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sparks in Indianapolis, on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo / Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS – Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever finally got the break they needed this week.

Now everyone is ready to see if four days off will help change their results.

Despite Clark’s selection as the WNBA Rookie of the Month for May, she and her new teammates have dealt with all sorts of frustrations: a brutally challenging schedule, limited practice time, the seemingly unwelcoming rookie committee in the entire league, even a poor game.

Clark’s biggest fans and the Fever’s most loyal supporters may not have anticipated such a rocky start for the WNBA’s highest-profile rookie in years, but the chance to relax, recharge and regroup could be just the thing. that everyone needed.

READ: WNBA improves Chennedy Carter’s foul on Caitlin Clark

“Honestly, I think about getting away from basketball, getting some sleep, taking care of my body,” Clark said, explaining what he did on his two days off before returning to a rare practice Wednesday. “I play point guard like I haven’t had a lot of practice time with my team and that’s very difficult, trying to navigate an offense and you haven’t had a lot of practice time together.”

Statistically speaking, it’s hard to quibble with Clark’s start.

She is just the third WNBA player to surpass 100 points, 30 rebounds and 30 assists in her first six games and leads this year’s talented rookie class in scoring (17.6 points), assists (6.6), field goals (46) and free throws (42). ). She even matched Diana Taurasi’s three-point total (24).

But it’s Clark’s glaring problems that have drawn the most attention.

Her 59 turnovers lead the league, she committed technical fouls in three straight home games, putting her nearly halfway to earning a one-game suspension, and she has at times publicly complained that calls didn’t go her way. good. Her being 2-9 also hurts, and the way she has been treated by her opponents has also created a national stir.

READ: Caitlin Clark struggles in WNBA debut loss

Saturday afternoon’s showdown with Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter generated such a stir that UConn coach Geno Auriemma told ESPN he believes Clark is being “targeted” and “beaten”; It’s certainly not the type of treatment many want to see involving a potentially game-changing star player.

“She’s a human being and I think she deserves to give herself some grace, and I think a lot of people in this world should too,” Indiana guard Kelsey Mitchell said. “Not only is she human, she is technically a 22-year-old girl, and I think that as she transitions, there will be things that she will experience that will come over time. “I think the world should give him a little grace.”

Caitlin Clark Indiana WNBA Fever

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates after scoring a 3-pointer during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/ Ashley Landis)

Indiana’s historically unforgiving schedule hasn’t helped. The Fever played 11 games in 20 days, the most compact inaugural schedule since the Washington Mystics had 11 games in 20 days to open the 2007 season.

Indiana’s schedule also had back-to-backs in one week with three of the four games on the road and they are 0-6 against the league’s top three teams compared to 2-3 against everyone else. And in practically every game that is broadcast on national television, criticism is everywhere.

Additionally, Clark is less than two months away from finishing a 39-game college season that resulted in a second straight national runner-up finish with Iowa.

All of that, especially the lack of practice time, made coach Christie Sides cringe.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything like that in my 12 years of coaching in this league,” Sides said. “Just to have that tough schedule, two games in a row against the two best teams in the league. It is really difficult. You just have to keep your team together when they’re going through something like this.”

Being the center of attention is another new phenomenon for most Indiana players.

The Fever haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 and have only managed more than six wins in two of the last six seasons.

However, Clark’s performances made sell-outs the norm and spurred huge television ratings throughout her collegiate career and most expected more of the same in the WNBA.

While home ticket sales for Indiana’s first five games have already surpassed last season’s 20-game total, the average home crowd has quadrupled to 16,571 and opponents have been moving games to larger venues to accommodate To Clark fans, the reality of this season has taken its toll. .

Clark has lost almost as many games this season as he has in his last two college seasons combined; She and her teammates seemed out of sync at times; and the daily media responsibilities as the league’s newest star are far greater than anyone else in the league.

Will a four-day break be enough for Clark and the Fever to right itself this season?


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“The chemistry hasn’t been there, so hopefully we continue to build our connection a little better,” said Clark, who noted last weekend that Indiana hadn’t practiced in three weeks. “Hopefully we can get our legs under us a little more, make a few more shots, we probably haven’t done as well as we would have liked. But I think overall our chemistry and the way we work together will improve.”

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