NCAA Tournament Games Sweet Sixteen Games 2021

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
7,053
Reaction score
452
Points
83

The Buildup Continues:
SAN ANTONIO — Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark seem to be playing a personal game of horse on the national stage. After one delivers a highlight-filled performance, the other has a top-this moment.

The captivating basketball exploits by the heralded freshmen have created a buzz around the women's NCAA Tournament, including one of event's most anticipated matchups: Bueckers and Clark will play their first college game against each other in the Sweet 16 this weekend.

"This was the potential matchup that raised eyebrows when the brackets came out," ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. "Fans have been having the debate all season long: who is the best freshman in the country. This game won't decide that, but it will be highly entertaining for all basketball fans. We need Iowa and UConn to play each other the next three years!"

"It's awesome, just for us to both be on the big stage," said Bueckers, who had 24 points in UConn's opening round win — the most ever by a Huskies player in an NCAA debut. "We haven't really talked about it. I know my mentality is just focusing on one day at a time."
[...]

"Going up against her would obviously be a great opportunity," Clark said after the win against Kentucky. "Obviously a good friend of mine, a tremendous player. We would both say, we're not going to win it alone, no matter who wins that game."

The talented teenagers know each other well and don't consider one another rivals. They started playing against each other in middle school in AAU tournaments and played together on USA Basketball's Under-19 team in 2019.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
7,053
Reaction score
452
Points
83

The Big Ten Conference broke new ground Wednesday with a conference-record four women’s basketball programs (Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Michigan) advancing to the Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) of the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio, Texas. The four Sweet 16 teams eclipses the previous Big Ten record of three that had been set on four prior occasions (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2009).

Indiana (20-5) is making its second trip to the Sweet 16 and first since 1983, when the NCAA Tournament was a 36-team event. The Hoosiers are the No. 4 seed in the Mercado Region and advanced to this year’s Sweet 16 with wins over VCU (63-32) and Belmont (70-48), setting records for the fewest points allowed by a Big Ten program in a single game and in its first two games (80) at one NCAA Tournament. Indiana will take on top-seeded NC State in the regional semifinals at 6 p.m. (ET) Saturday live on ESPN2 and the ESPN app at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Iowa (20-9) has reached the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history and the third in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances, all under current head coach Lisa Bluder (2015, 2019, 2021). The Hawkeyes are the No. 5 seed in the River Walk Region and earned this year’s Sweet 16 berth by defeating Central Michigan (87-72) and Kentucky (86-72). Iowa next will play No. 1 seed UConn in the regional semifinals at 1 p.m (ET) Saturday on ABC, also at the Alamodome.

Big Ten Champion Maryland (26-2) has booked its 14th NCAA Sweet 16 appearance and ninth under head coach Brenda Frese, as well as its first since 2017. The Terrapins lead the nation in scoring offense at 91.8 points per game and rolled through their opening week at this year’s NCAA Tournament, defeating Mount St. Mary’s (98-45) and Alabama (100-64) while amassing the most combined points (198) a Big Ten team has ever scored through its first two NCAA Tournament games in a single year. As the second seed in the HemisFair Region, Maryland will square off with No. 6 seed Texas in the Sweet 16 at 9 p.m. (ET) Sunday on ESPN2 and the ESPN app at the Alamodome.

Michigan (16-5) made history on Tuesday, earning the program’s first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 with a 70-55 win over Tennessee. The Wolverines, who are seeded sixth in the River Walk Region, also tipped off the tournament with an 87-66 victory over Florida Gulf Coast in the first round. Michigan will face No. 2 seed Baylor in the Sweet 16 at 3 p.m. (ET) Saturday on ABC at the Alamodome.

The Big Ten sent a total of seven teams to this year’s NCAA Tournament, tying a conference record for most bids in a single season (first set in 2012 and 2015). Northwestern was the No. 7 seed in the Alamo Region and defeated UCF in the first round, 62-51, collecting the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1993. The Wildcats then nearly defeated No. 2 Louisville in the second round before falling late, 62-53.

Rutgers and Michigan State also earned NCAA Tournament berths this season. The Scarlet Knights dropped a narrow 69-66 first-round decision to BYU, while the Spartans were just edged out in the opening-round game by Iowa State, 79-75
 

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
7,053
Reaction score
452
Points
83

ESPN: Everything You Need to Know About Bueckers and Clark:
There are some videos included in the article that I didn't insert here.
(Plus, Rachel Banham and Carly Wagner get some ink in a chart of "HIghest PPG by Division 1 Teamates")

UConn's Paige Bueckers and Iowa's Caitlin Clark were once teammates playing for their country. On Saturday (1 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App) in the 2021 women's basketball tournament, their teams will face off with the country watching. Bueckers' No. 1 seed UConn Huskies meet Clark's No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes in the Sweet 16, a matchup that pits two of the most exciting freshman athletes in college sports.

Both point guards who lead their team in scoring and assists, Bueckers and Clark, who are friends, would be the first to say this is UConn vs. Iowa, not Paige vs. Caitlin. But it's one of those convergences we relish in sports: Two budding superstars -- who play the same position, no less -- meeting for the first time on a national stage in a win-or-go-home game.

On Friday, UConn coach Geno Auriemma couldn't recall so much hype ever surrounding a pair of freshmen.

"It's been a while since you have two kids that have had this kind of an impact, both on their teams and on the game itself nationally," said Auriemma, who joined the Huskies in San Antonio on Thursday after a 10-day COVID-19 quarantine. "To have one is kinda cool. But to have two. ... It's two really, really young kids, really good players that do a lot for their teams."

Clark is the NCAA Division I scoring leader, while Bueckers is among the front-runners for 2021 national player of the year. Teammates on USA Basketball's U19 team in 2019, they might one day be teammates going for gold or wind up as WNBA rivals. If so, we'll look back on Saturday as the start of something special. ESPN's Charlie Creme, Mechelle Voepel and Royce Young look at how 5-foot-11 Bueckers and UConn match up against 6-foot Clark and Iowa, and predict which team will win. And follow this link for a complete look at our Sweet 16 predictions.

What are the strengths of Caitlin Clark's game?​

Range and passing. Her scoring (a national-best 26.8 PPG) and shooting (47% from the field) speak for themselves. But having the ability to stretch the floor beyond 20 feet -- and in some absurd cases, 25 -- is what separates Clark from so many other good offensive players. Shooting from range puts immense pressure on a defense and spreads the floor dramatically. It forces defensive pickup points to be almost near halfcourt, which allows offenses to adjust with higher screens and more downhill space to drive.

When you pair that kind of range with the instincts, selflessness, vision and passing ability Clark has, you have an elite offensive player. You double her, she passes to an open teammate. You go single coverage, she drives by you. You go zone, she bombs away from deep. She simplifies the game and attacks the vulnerabilities of a defense.

And the last thing: poise. It was so impressive to watch Clark put on a first-half lightshow against Kentucky, outscoring the Wildcats on her own while hitting six 3s, but she didn't approach the second half like she wanted to go for 50. She played under control and maintained her team-first approach. Clark -- who is averaging 7.2 assists, tied for first in Division I -- looks to do what's best for the Hawkeyes. The media guide says she's a freshman, but if you parachuted in from outer space and watched her for the first time, you'd think she was a 10-year WNBA vet. -- Young

What's the biggest concern for UConn?

Nobody game-plans better to slow an opposing team's biggest strength than Auriemma and UConn. But Clark played in a very good conference this season -- there are four Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16 -- and has gone against many defenses designed to stop her. She is not going to be rattled or intimidated, and the Hawkeyes are as confident now as they have been all season.

ESPN Stats & Info
Plus, remember how Arkansas handed UConn its only loss of the season? That game was a 90-87 shootout, with the Huskies making 12 3-pointers at 52.2% behind the arc. But Arkansas hit 13 treys and was 56.5% from long range. The Razorbacks also took care of the ball well, with just nine turnovers to UConn's 15. The Huskies have improved quite a bit defensively since that Jan. 28 loss. But Iowa is capable of shooting the ball just like Arkansas did, and if the Hawkeyes get on a roll that way, it could be interesting. -- Voepel

What are the strengths of Paige Bueckers' game?​

Confidence. She didn't get to be the No. 1 recruit in the country without plenty of it already, but as the season progressed, Bueckers' belief in herself grew. When Geno Auriemma implored Bueckers to shoot more earlier this season, it was also a call to take the Huskies' reins. That game-deciding shot at Tennessee on Jan. 21 might have been the turning point, and the 31-point effort in an overtime victory against South Carolina -- Bueckers' third straight 30-point game in UConn's highest-profile matchup of the season -- cemented that it was now Bueckers' team to lead.

Bueckers -- who is averaging 19.9 points and 6.0 assists -- also plays with a heightened sense of anticipation. Her 2.4 steals per game is how that manifests itself on defense. At the other end of the court, It's knowing where teammates will be to get them the ball a second sooner, or seeing where the space in a defense is going to be. Bueckers has an uncanny ability to find that space with her dribble and take the proper angle to get there in order to launch a jump shot that can't be described any other way than smooth. A freshman guard who makes 53.9% of her shots is something special. For comparison, Elena Delle Donne was a 47.9% shooter in her first season at Delaware when she averaged 26.7 points per game. Bueckers makes 46.7% of her 3-point attempts. That's stunning efficiency for any age. -- Creme

What's the biggest concern for Iowa? Defense. Look, it's a well-documented weakness. The Hawkeyes entered the tournament dead last in scoring defense in Division I, allowing more than 80 points per game. And when you're playing UConn, for crying out loud, you can't afford to play a one-way game.

ESPN Stats & Info
Now, the Hawkeyes have shown shocking improvement so far in the tournament. Clark called their game against Kentucky their most complete game of the season. And even in their opener against Central Michigan, a high-octane offensive team, they stepped up with second-half stops.

Iowa is a lot more than just the Caitlin Clark show. Every player on the team would tell you that, including Clark. But UConn is deeper and has more options across the board, one of which is locking you down. If Clark is off, what's the backup plan for Iowa? -- Young

How Rebecca Lobo expects UConn to defend Iowa's Caitlin Clark​

​The best way to limit Clark is to get the ball out of her hands early. That typically requires extending the defense with a double-team look early in the possession. That includes some risk, though. Rutgers employed some of that strategy in the Big Ten tournament, but Iowa sophomore guard Gabbie Marshall was left open to hit 7 of 11 3-pointers and score 27 points in a convincing win over the Scarlet Knights. Clark had 10 assists that game, many of which led to open Marshall shots. UConn has the ability to limit that kind of secondary-player breakout with better rotations, but it takes discipline.

The Huskies might go with some zone that matches up aggressively on Clark when she has the ball. The danger there is having accountability for her when she doesn't have the ball in her hands. Clark's range is so substantial that she can step far beyond any zone to get off her shot.


As effortless and accurate as Clark's 3-point shooting is (40.9%), her penetration can be even more of a threat for the Iowa offense. UConn's perimeter defenders, especially junior Christyn Williams, will be critical in taking away Clark's angles to the basket. If she can't penetrate and draw help-side defense, then her teammates aren't as open. Limit how many times it takes a second defender to slow Clark's dribble-drive and she's not as dangerous. Her passing makes her a double threat. As strange as it sounds because of her skills from deep, if UConn can make Clark solely a jump shooter, she's less impactful.

Ultimately, defense will be the key to UConn winning, and it's a Huskies strength that's often overlooked. They are tops in the country in points allowed per scoring attempt, third in field goal percentage defense and the No. 1-rated defensive team, according to Her Hoop Stats. In many ways, this is a classic offense vs. defense matchup. -- Creme

How will Iowa defend Bueckers?​

The Hawkeyes' approach will probably be different than UConn's is with Clark. The Huskies can use traps and try to force the ball out of Clark's hands and see if someone else can beat them. If Iowa does that with Bueckers, four other highly skilled and talented offensive players are ready to pick up the load.

Aaliyah Edwards has played two strong games in the tournament. Olivia Nelson-Ododa was dominant against Syracuse. And Bueckers, while obviously an amazing scorer, is a super willing passer who can set the table as well as anyone.

So what do the Hawkeyes do? The options aren't great, but expect them to mix coverages and try to confuse Bueckers. As talented as UConn is, everyone knows the Huskies are young (no seniors, seven freshmen). Try to rattle them with physicality -- even though associate head coach Chris Dailey said the rougher you play Bueckers, the tougher she gets. -- Young

Which other Iowa players will be X factors?​

Czinano (19.4 PPG) leads Division I in field goal percentage (66.9), and she and Clark sometimes resemble a quarterback and a tight end who can read each other's minds on routes. They look like they've been playing together for years, not just this season.

Highest PPG by Division I teammates​

Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano combine for 46.3 points per game this season, the third-most by a pair of Division I teammates over the last 20 seasons (minimum 15 games played). -- ESPN Stats & Info

2015-16Rachel Banham and Carlie Wagner, Minnesota47.5 PPG
2016-17Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor, Washington47.5 PPG
2020-21Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, Iowa46.3 PPG
McKenna Warnock is the Hawkeyes' leading rebounder, and, like Czinano, brings a toughness factor inside for Iowa. But Warnock also can hit from long range: She has 48 3-pointers. Kate Martin has 115 assists and gives Iowa another excellent playmaker besides Clark. As mentioned earlier, Marshall can fill the hoop, as she did in the Big Ten tournament. She is second to Clark in 3-pointers with 53. Voepel

Which other UConn players will be X factors?​

Edwards' growth is starting to translate into production. After an average Big East tournament in which she scored below her regular-season average of 10.7 points per game, Edwards scored 18.0 PPG in UConn's two NCAA tournament wins, with just two missed field goal attempts. With the 6-3 Edwards in the starting lineup instead of injured freshman guard Nika Mühl, the Huskies are bigger and Bueckers absorbs even more ball-handling responsibility. Neither is a bad thing.

How physical Edwards and 6-5 junior Nelson-Ododa can be with Iowa's 6-3 Czinano will be important. Getting Czinano just another step or two away from the basket changes much of what Iowa tries to do offensively. -- Creme

UConn will win if ...:​

The Huskies will win if they are able to establish offensive dominance and keep it. Iowa isn't going to win this game with its defense; the Hawkeyes have to be brilliant offensively to have a chance at the upset. But even a really good Iowa offense might not be enough if the Huskies own that end of the court, too.

"We like transition basketball, and that's what we're going to try and do," Auriemma said. "And Iowa likes transition basketball, that's what they like to do. So how do you help yourself against teams like that?

"If you make a lot of shots, that cuts down on the transition. You gotta limit your turnovers ... So there's things you can do to keep that transition offense that both teams have at a minimum. But it's easier said than done."

If UConn is clicking on both ends, the Huskies likely just have too much firepower. Iowa also relies a great deal on its starters. They all play close to 30 minutes, if not more. -- Voepel

Iowa will win if ...:​

Clark has had big games before that Iowa has lost, such as 35 points in a loss against Michigan State and 30 in a loss to Ohio State. It isn't necessarily how much she scores that will dictate the outcome. Czinano also had 24 points in the loss to the Spartans.


Iowa's best chance against an opponent as good as UConn is to have Clark score fewer points and get others involved, especially early in the game. Having that third scorer, like Marshall (9.0 PPG), Martin (7.1 PPG) or Warnock (11.8 PPG), will be instrumental in a Hawkeyes upset. -- Creme

Which team will win?​

Creme: UConn. The Huskies are better defensively, and with Edwards playing well, UConn has five legitimate scorers.

Voepel: UConn. It's really hard to pick against UConn when you consider how big a task it will be for Iowa's defense to keep the Huskies in check enough to be in striking distance. For what it's worth, one of UConn's few NCAA Sweet 16 losses came against a team from the Hawkeyes' home state: Iowa State beat UConn in the 1999 regional semifinals thanks to great 3-point shooting.

Young: UConn. I stan Caitlin Clark, but this is UConn, and with so many more weapons across the board, it's going to be too much for Iowa to overcome.
 

ISUnorth

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
50
Reaction score
22
Points
8
So who you all getting behind today? Big 10 connection with Iowa and Minnesota connection with Czinano? Or local gal connection with the big bad UConn? Hoping the ESPN talking head don't spend the ENTIRE game blabbing about the freshman guards but they probably will, they don't seem to distinguish legit pre-game hype from the the gamecast itself. As an ISU and Gopher fan I've got the Hawks as a double rival but have had to park some of that to enjoy watching Clark play. Same as I had to for Gustafson .

Guessing Iowa has a punchers chance if they go insane from three. Team of extremes, awesome offense and the worst defense. Geno's back on the bench.
 

adamj95

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2016
Messages
210
Reaction score
39
Points
28
Definitely not Uconn that’s for sure. It would take a huge game from Clark and Czinano, and the rest of the team needs to provide some scoring if they are to beat them.
 

whalenfan

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2018
Messages
864
Reaction score
582
Points
93
So who you all getting behind today? Big 10 connection with Iowa and Minnesota connection with Czinano? Or local gal connection with the big bad UConn? Hoping the ESPN talking head don't spend the ENTIRE game blabbing about the freshman guards but they probably will, they don't seem to distinguish legit pre-game hype from the the gamecast itself. As an ISU and Gopher fan I've got the Hawks as a double rival but have had to park some of that to enjoy watching Clark play. Same as I had to for Gustafson .

Guessing Iowa has a punchers chance if they go insane from three. Team of extremes, awesome offense and the worst defense. Geno's back on the bench.
Will probably be the 1st and only time I ever say this but lets go Iowa!
 
Last edited:

Katogopher

Active member
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
312
Reaction score
57
Points
28
Cheering for Iowa as well, I don’t Auriemma or UCONN even before Bueckers decided to go there. Go Hawkeyes!
 

ISUnorth

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
50
Reaction score
22
Points
8
"Tennessee transfer", Pat Summit is rolling over in her grave.
 

ISUnorth

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
50
Reaction score
22
Points
8
Two team that are really rolling right now, UConn and Maryland.
 

whalenfan

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2018
Messages
864
Reaction score
582
Points
93
Iowa just doesnt defend well enough to beat a team like Uconn. every possession is a layup or wide open jumper.
 

ISUnorth

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
50
Reaction score
22
Points
8
Every time it looks like UConn is going to run it out to 20, Iowa responds to keep it respectable.
 

Waffle

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2018
Messages
207
Reaction score
23
Points
18
I don't remember Indiana's defense being this good in conference play. Hoping they pull off this upset!
 

Katogopher

Active member
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
312
Reaction score
57
Points
28
Nice to see a BIG team win today. i think the conference has a good chance of being strong again next year With so many great players returning. I think the conference gained a little respect this post season.
 

GringaGopher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
2,892
Reaction score
529
Points
113
Big Ten really playing well in the women's tourney- men's not so much. I was hoping MI. could pull off the upset. Hoosiers rolling and would be nice for them to get to the Final Four. I was pulling for Iowa- a 1st for me. I have big respect for Clark staying home and representing her University. Too bad Paige didn't feel the same.
 

Katogopher

Active member
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
312
Reaction score
57
Points
28
Big Ten really playing well in the women's tourney- men's not so much. I was hoping MI. could pull off the upset. Hoosiers rolling and would be nice for them to get to the Final Four. I was pulling for Iowa- a 1st for me. I have big respect for Clark staying home and representing her University. Too bad Paige didn't feel the same.
You should watch Clark’s post game press conference on You Tube, she addresses choosing her home state school over going to a ”blue blood” school to do something special. Damn after that I grew respect for her as well- she’s starting to grow on me.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
7,053
Reaction score
452
Points
83
You should watch Clark’s post game press conference on You Tube, she addresses choosing her home state school over going to a ”blue blood” school to do something special. Damn after that I grew respect for her as well- she’s starting to grow on me.
Q. I'm guessing over the last couple weeks, especially, there have been a lot of little girls around the country who have watched you, want to be like you, play in the NCAA tournament. What would you say to them in regards to you can pick what school you want to go to, it doesn't have to be UConn, doesn't have to be Tennessee? You talked the other day about the bluebloods. What you want to say to those kids?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, I mean, the reason I came to Iowa is because I wanted to do something special. I think more and more people are starting to kind of go that route. I think that's important, especially this being my home state, this is where I wanted to go. I know I'm in the right place. This season was truly special.

I think for this team, it's only up from here. So I know a lot of little girls dream about going to all those bluebloods, but I think playing for your home state is really something special. Creating something is really special. That's my goal here. I have three years left to do a lot of special things. I think for this team, we're so young, we can put in so much more work, improve in so many areas, it should be fun down the stretch for us, for sure.

Q. I know when you came in, you had expectations of competing in games like this. Outside the program the expectation wasn't for you guys to make the tournament. Here you are trading buckets with UConn in the Sweet 16. How do you think this changed your minds in what can be accomplished in the next couple years? How important was this experience, getting to a Final Four, a championship game down the road?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, I don't think it really changed our minds just because we've always believed in each other. That's the reason I came here, because there was a true belief we were going to make the Final Four someday. We didn't say we were going to do it in my first year. We knew it was going to be a process, we had to put all the pieces together. To see what we did this year with nobody believing in us, we believed in ourselves, everybody in the locker room, the coaches, the girls, we just kept believing. We had some tough losses but went back to work every single day and wanted to get better. I think that really showed at the end of the season, through the Big Ten tournament, obviously the NCAA tournament. To get to where we got is really something special. Obviously a lot to be proud of this season.

Obviously we're disappointed with the outcome today, but it's good to look back and see what we did this season.

Q. Coach Auriemma pulled you aside, kind of wiggled his finger and had you come over after the game. What was said there between the two of you?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, he was pretty much just like, You're crazy good, whatnot. Things like that. He's like, it's kind of a shame it had to be so much pressure on you and Paige. I could tell you guys were so antsy in the first half, which I think is kind of true. I think we were kind of could feel that pressure in a way. I took a few poor shots. I think we both kind of calmed down there in the second half.

Obviously it is a lot of pressure for two freshmen. Those are the games we want to play in. Those are the moments we live for. We wouldn't want it to change any other way.

To have him come up to me and say the things he did, he said, What you've done for Iowa this season really has been something special, you have a bright future. To hear him say that to me really meant something. To take the time to wave me down and talk to me obviously meant a lot and I'm very thankful for that.

Q. You got to measure yourselves against one of the best programs in the country. Obviously disappointment right now. What do you take and learn from this going forward? Where does that put the expectations at for the next few years now?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, obviously I don't think the score really indicated how the game really ended. Obviously kind of ballooned there a little at the end. We really stayed with them, kept fighting, kept knocking down shots. I think if we clean up a few more things, a couple more shots fall down for us, a couple more things go our way, I think we're right there, a two to four-point game really.

I think being so young, that just shows we have so much more to work for, but we're so close. I think that's just something we can feed on the rest of the season, the next few seasons down the road. I think that's what we're going to work on in the off-season, look back, what do we need to improve, and get better at. Having this offseason is going to be so important for us especially returning our whole starting five and a solid bench as well, just to improve in every single area that kind of got exploited this season.

I'm excited. We're all going to get back to work, I know we are going to work super hard. I think the future is super bright.

Q. About young girls, there are so many more young girls playing basketball who now know you. They're inspired by you. What message do you have for them right now?

CAITLIN CLARK: Thanks. I feel like I was that little girl just a short while ago. So I would just say dream big. That's always what I did. My parents never held me back from anything that you couldn't do. I think that's just the biggest thing.

Q. UConn, it was no secret how they were going to defend you, go about this game. What did you think of the defense they played on you, particularly in the first half?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, honestly, I mean, I've seen tough defenses all year. I think the Big Ten is loaded with quite a few teams that are loaded defensively. They move together, they play team defense. Obviously I've been denied all year long. It wasn't really anything new. I think I took a few too many tough shots in the first half. At the same time I'm not going to get too many open looks. A couple more go down, maybe it's a different story. But I think in the second half, I was a little more patient obviously. Still missed a few here and there, but made a few more.

Obviously they're a good overall team. We knew what they were going to do on defense - they were going to deny me the ball. I don't think it was anything new that I've seen this season. That's what we've seen all throughout the Big Ten. Progressing throughout my career, it's going to be the same thing. So just learning from it, getting better, finding ways to move without the ball and things like that.

Q. Before that Michigan game, you guys had been good, but you hadn't had those top-25 wins. You blow out Michigan, you go on this run in March. What do you think was the change? What was the progress that you made in the last month here? How is that something you can apply over the summer and into next season?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, I think other than tonight really our defense had improved a lot, especially our man-to-man defense. I thought that had grown so much. That's kind of what we had been using all throughout the Big Ten Tournament, up here until this point, I know we played a little more zone today, but I thought we really improved on defense. Obviously when a team scores over 90 points, it's still going to be hard for us to win even though we do put up pretty big numbers on the offensive side of the ball.

Another thing, we all believed. We knew we were right there. There were so many close games through the Big Ten, those top teams we kept playing, we kept losing by two to five points every single game. There were just little mental lapses. We're young, we didn't have experience in end-of-game situations.

I think we really just learned from those, we kept believing and working. We knew those wins were going to come. I think that's what you saw here at the end of the season.

Q. Next year obviously the hype is going to be high, the expectations are going to be high. How does this team handle that? How does the team embrace that? Your thought about the Final Four being in Minneapolis next year.

CAITLIN CLARK: Yes, obviously the expectations are high. That's how it was for us this year. Even if the media or outside people didn't have high expectations for us, Coach Bluder's teams always have high expectations for themselves. I wouldn't expect anything less.

We're going to work how we always do, not going to put too much pressure on ourselves. I think more than anything we're excited to have fans back in Carver, get that excitement rolling again.

I think people are just going to be super excited about Iowa women's basketball. I think we're going to have a lot of fans in the arena. That's what makes the game so fun. That's what you love to do.

Obviously with the Final Four in Minnesota, that's super cool. I honestly didn't know that. To keep it in the Midwest, I guess that's great. Obviously that's a long, long road ahead before we're there, so...

Q. You might have answered this a little bit, but what did you guys learn about yourselves at how good you guys can really be, considering how we talked all year long about how young this team is? You seemed to show potential, we really saw it in this last month and a half.

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, I think it just gave so much confidence to the girls on this team, to the program, everything. I think it just shows, like, we're legit. We can hang with the best, whatnot.

I mean, more than anything, I think it's just going to make every single person in that locker room want to work that much harder, get that much better, just knowing we're so close to being with UConn. 10 points away, I would probably say, even though the score ballooned at the end.

We're just going to work harder, want to get better. That's all you really can get, get back in the gym, get better, be with your team. Honestly this team always believes. I think that's the greatest thing about us. We never hung our heads when we lost early in the season, things like that. We just kept wanting to get better. We knew those wins were about to come our way. I think that's what you're going to see next year, too.

Q. You obviously got to play in the first game of the tournament that allowed outside fans. How exciting was that? How hopeful are you that we're on the road to normalcy again?

CAITLIN CLARK: Yeah, obviously that was really special. I think there were quite a few Hawk fans down here. It was good to hear that noise again, and get back to normalcy. Obviously it's been a long time. I would say this isn't really a normal thing to have fans. But to get back to that normalcy, it's going to be fun. I can't wait for it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
7,053
Reaction score
452
Points
83
Owusu loses her cool, Miller makes an awesome drive for two and Texas nails a three to lead....what a game!
 

adamj95

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2016
Messages
210
Reaction score
39
Points
28
I hope Texas can pull of the upset, not a fan of Brenda.

Update: Texas wins by 3. I can sleep happy tonight.
 
Last edited:

Frink

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 20, 2008
Messages
1,851
Reaction score
254
Points
83
Another Maryland melt down under pressure. They had no clue during the last couple of minutes.
I couldn't believe it when they lost track of how many free throws had been shot and almost gave up a rebound to the Texas shooter.

Big credit to Texas for controlling the boards at the end.
 
Top Bottom