Caitlin Clark era gets underway as Fever visit Sun

By Thomson Reuters May 13, 2024 | 2:25 PM

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA career officially begins on the road Tuesday with the Indiana Fever’s regular-season opener against the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

The unprecedented flood of interest in women’s basketball is expected to follow Clark from her record-smashing college career at Iowa to the WNBA. The nearly 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena is sold out for Clark’s debut, and ESPN’s broadcast will include player mics and roving cameras for “a WNBA Finals-level production setup.”

Knowing you only make your pro debut once, Clark is simply trying to soak in the moment.

“This is kind of what you worked for and dreamed of, and now you gotta put your jersey on for the first real time and go out there and play,” Clark said. .”.. More than anything, I’m ready for the challenge.”

The 3-point sharpshooter broke the all-time Division I scoring record, men’s or women’s, and guided Iowa to the national championship game. The Fever made her the No. 1 overall draft pick last month, pairing her with center Aliyah Boston, the No. 1 pick in 2023 and reigning Rookie of the Year.

In two preseason games, Clark put up 33 points, 7-of-22 shooting from deep, 11 rebounds, eight assists and 11 turnovers.

The Fever have every reason to hope Clark will put an end to the historic franchise’s run of bad fortune. Indiana has not made the postseason since 2016, going 58-174 ever since — a .250 win percentage.

“Our goal is the playoffs,” coach Christie Sides said during training camp. .”.. That’s where we want to be, but we can’t skip steps.”

The Sun know something about the playoffs. In Stephanie White’s first season as coach, Connecticut went 27-13 and made the playoffs for the seventh year in a row before falling in the semifinals. The franchise still seeks its first championship.

They bring back a talented core of DeWanna Bonner, Brionna Jones and Alyssa Thomas, who was a finalist for league MVP in 2023 thanks to a WNBA record six triple-doubles. She led the league in rebounding (9.9 per game), ranked second in assists (7.9) and was third in steals (1.8).

The state of Connecticut is known for its passion for women’s basketball, and the Sun are ready for what’s coming Tuesday.

“It’s been a long time coming. It really has,” White, a former Fever coach, told the New Haven Register. “For me, to see this be like a Final Four event or like an NBA playoffs event, our players deserve it. Our league deserves it.”

–Field Level Media