Why Basketball Fans Are Going Crazy: NPR

Why Basketball Fans Are Going Crazy: NPR

Iowa State guard Kaitlyn Clark celebrates as she walks off the court after an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska on Jan. 27.

Charlie Nebergall/AP

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Charlie Nebergall/AP

Iowa State guard Kaitlyn Clark celebrates as she walks off the court after an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska on Jan. 27.

Charlie Nebergall/AP

News outlets, including CBS Sports, USA Today And Baltimore Suncalled it the “Caitlin Clark effect.”

Both women’s college basketball fans and outsiders alike were flocking to watch the 22-year-old University of Iowa student-athlete attempt to become the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.

“I feel like I’m watching a combination of Pistol Pete Maravich and Steph Curry. It’s so fluid. It’s playing the game in a different dimension,” FOX Sports broadcaster Gus Johnson said.

Clark, a hockey goaltender, became a phenomenon — leading to long lines to get her autograph, sold-out arenas, and skyrocketing ticket costs.

On Wednesday, Northwestern University saw its first sold-out women’s basketball game, taking on Clark and the Hawkeyes. Meanwhile, resale ticket prices for the upcoming tournament between Iowa and the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday range from $123 to $1,454, according to TicketMaster.

With the help of Clark, as well as Angel Reyes of the LSU Tigers and JuJu Watkins of the USC Trojans, women’s college basketball has become increasingly popular over the years.

Last year, the women’s final received an average of 4.5 million viewers, an increase of almost 66% from the previous year.

“The talent is very good now with women. The competition is very good,” she said. Washington Post Columnist and frequent ESPN panelist Kevin Blakiston on NPR’s Morning edition Last April.

Clark’s rise to stardom

Clark, from West Des Moines, Iowa, was considered a force to be reckoned with even before her college career. In high school, she captured two gold medals with Team USA at the FIBA ​​World Cup at the youth level.

In her freshman season, Clark averaged 26.6 points, 7.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game, according to the University of Iowa. That school year, she received numerous awards, including the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Co-Freshman of the Year.

In 2020, Iowa State women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder described Clark as an “offensive threat” who will only get better with time.

In her sophomore year, Clark captured her third gold medal at the FIBA ​​U19 World Cup and was honored as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

In 2023, Clark led Iowa to its first Final Four appearance in 30 years and its first national championship game ever. The Hawkeyes eventually lost to the LSU Tigers, 102-85. But the game helped Clark break the NCAA record for the most points in a tournament. The previous record was set in 1993 by Cheryl Swoopes.

Why can’t people stop talking about it

The senior has become a must-see attraction, especially since it’s unclear whether she will remain at the school for a fifth year or begin her career in the WNBA. (Clark has an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) If she decides to draft, Clark is expected to be the first pick.

The University of Iowa women’s basketball team has never won an NCAA championship, but the title seems closer than ever with the veteran Clark on the team. March Madness selections begin March 17 and the tournament is scheduled for April 7 in Cleveland.

With Clarke on the roster, viewers can expect to see some records broken in the match. The game against Northwestern’s Wildcats was Clark’s 50th career game with 30-plus points — a feat unmatched in men’s or women’s college basketball in the last 25 seasons, according to the University of Iowa.

It was also her 80th straight game making a 3-pointer. Clark is also the first Division I player to reach over 3,300 points, over 900 assists and over 800 rebounds in a career.

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