It’s a summer of growth and new challenges for Iowa Hawkeye Caitlin Clark, as she led the U-19 Team U.S.A. to a FIBA World Cup Championship. While she has suited up for the Red, White, and Blue before, this time she was the oldest on the team and understood her teammates were looking up to her.
“I played a super big role,” said Clark. “Not only on the court but leadership-wise, being the oldest.”
With that came lessons and experiences she’s ready to bring back to Iowa City.
“I need to be vocal, I need to be a leader,” said Clark. “Your point guard has to do that and I think just finding the right time to know when to lead. Obviously having Coach Bluder as my coach, somebody that’s been around women’s college basketball for so long, she has so many great pieces of advice. So we’ve had a lot of meetings, a lot of learning opportunities for myself. And, you know, I’m still growing in that area. And I think that’s only gonna get better for me and help our team have more and more success.”
That improvement doesn’t stop with the mental side of the game. The reigning Co-Freshman of the Year wants to bring even more to the court. She sees defense as a way for the Hawkeyes to advance further next March.
“We know if we want to get far in the tournament that we have to play better defense,” said Clark. “That’s honestly why this summer, we spent so much of our time focus on defense, we really didn’t work on the offensive side of the ball in practice, we didn’t work on that much skill work in practice. So we know that we need to improve, but also we weren’t very good and we still made it to the Sweet 16. So I think that just shows when we do improve that I mean, we could be pretty unstoppable.”
It’s that level of team success that has Clark’s focus right now.
“Obviously, my goal is for our team to go to the Final Four,” said Clark. “I just have big goals. Honestly, I don’t really care about my goals individually, as long as my team has great success and we get to the Final Four. If that means me averaging less points, less assists, playing a few last minutes, I would totally do that. Because I mean, you got to do whatever it takes for your team to get to the Final Four.”
With international play ending with the U.S. on top, Clark sets down the gold medal and prepares to play for the black and gold.
“I think there’s just a lot of different things you can bring back,” said Clark. “Obviously, I love every single thing that our coaching staff does and has, so I don’t think there’s really a need for much adjusting. It’s just different experiences and sharing that with each other and seeing what you can bring back to just add to our team and make it that much better really.”