Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Woes: College Sensation Struggles with Physicality, Stifling Defense

The hype surrounding Caitlin Clark’s entry into the WNBA was deafening, but the former NCAA scoring machine has thus far struggled to replicate her collegiate dominance. The Indiana Fever, Clark’s new professional home, find themselves mired in an 0-4 start to the season after a heartbreaking 88-84 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Monday.

Clark, the top overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, etched her name in the record books at the University of Iowa, shattering scoring marks while averaging a staggering 28 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists per game. However, her transition to the big leagues has been anything but smooth sailing.

Against the Sun, Clark mustered 17 points, three rebounds, and five assists – respectable numbers, but a far cry from the eye-popping statistics that became her calling card in college. The weight of expectations seems to be weighing heavily on the 22-year-old’s shoulders.

Clark’s recent struggles can be attributed, in part, to the stifling defense she’s encountered from seasoned veterans. In a pair of games against the New York Liberty over the weekend, Clark found herself suffocated by the defensive prowess of Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, a 30-year-old defensive specialist. When Laney-Hamilton needed a breather, the Liberty deployed a tag-team of Kayla Thornton (31) and Courtney Vandersloot (35) to hound the rookie sensation.

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In the face of such smothering defense, Clark acknowledged the steep learning curve she’s confronting. “This is what you signed up for, this is best of the best,” Clark conceded after Saturday’s Liberty clash. “The physicality, I think the way teams are guarding – you go back and watch the film, and I’m stepped way away from the play, and I’m still getting face guards.”

While Clark’s perplexing struggles have raised eyebrows, her journey is merely beginning. As she acclimates to the rigors of the WNBA, the league’s latest prodigy may yet unleash the scoring barrage that captivated college basketball fans nationwide.

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