Indiana Fever Coach Christie Sides Implements Plan to Unleash Caitlin Clark’s Full Potential (Takes Time)

Ascending from collegiate stardom to the WNBA ranks has proven an uphill climb for Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark. The celebrated newcomer is grappling with the pro game’s breakneck pace and elite competition level, requiring a reinvention of her playing style.

Through her first two regular season outings, Clark’s transition has hit some speed bumps. Her ingrained college tendencies have persisted, leading to an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers in her WNBA debut game. Some miscues stemmed from teammates still adjusting to her visionary passing, while others were self-inflicted – errant dribbles and ill-advised passes that keen defenders easily pilfered.

Fever head coach Christie Sides has taken note of these growing pains, observing Clark’s passive offensive approach clashing with the team’s proactive mentality.

Clark now shares the court with a constellation of elite talents – 2023’s No. 1 draft pick Aliyah Boston, 2022 No. 2 selection NaLyssa Smith, 2023 All-Star Kelsey Mitchell, and sharpshooter Katie Lou Samuelson. This high-powered roster stands in stark contrast to Clark’s collegiate supporting cast, demanding an overhaul of her offensive mindset.

“I gave her a new rule – she has 0.5 seconds to make a decision,” Sides stated. “When she moves off the ball and hits the high post, she has a habit of lingering and dribbling in place. Those are the instincts we need to retrain. She has talented teammates now who can reposition, set screens, and get her the ball back. That’s an advantage she didn’t have before, so we’ve been showing her how to capitalize on it.”

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Sides Urging Clark to Expand Scoring Repertoire

Sides is also intent on diversifying Clark’s shot selection as she acclimates to the WNBA’s stingy defenses. In college, Clark’s scoring came primarily from beyond the arc and quick drives or pull-up jumpers. But now, defenders are better prepared to contest those looks. To counter, Sides is pushing Clark to develop her midrange game.

“I think she’s gotten accustomed to those deep three-point attempts over the past few years,” Sides explained. “There are times now when she has an open look from midrange after using a ball screen, and we need to get her comfortable taking those long two-point shots.”

Despite the challenges, Clark’s self-belief remains unshaken. As a two-time National Player of the Year, she understands the game should feel instinctive. She recognizes the need to embrace new types of scoring opportunities to propel her growth.

As Clark continues navigating her baptism in the WNBA waters, she and the Fever remain optimistic about her development trajectory and future impact on the team’s success.

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