Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark adjusting to playing in the WNBA, finishes first week on a high note

Caitlin Clark had her best game of the young season against New York, but it still wasn't enough to get the Fever their first win of the season

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Caitlin Clark is adjusting to life as a professional women's basketball player.

Her first week in the league had moments where she looked very good and others when she struggled. The schedule wasn't kind with the first three games against two of the top teams in the league with New York and Connecticut.

It's going to take some time for the Indiana Fever's young star to find her groove against the incredible talent in the league.

“I’m just trying to remind myself, like, I know this is my job now, but, like, I have fun playing this game and I think that needs to be my focus through the course of this year. It’s just like, have fun, that’s when I’m at my best, too, and that’s when I was at my best in college,” she said after a 91-80 loss to the New York Liberty on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Clark had her best game of the young season against New York, but it still wasn't enough to get the Fever their first win of the season. The No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft from Iowa had 22 points, including 10 in the first quarter when she came out aggressively.

“I thought I came out and just played harder, and I think that’s going to be just my biggest focus going forward,” Clark said. “Just come out and compete and play hard. I thought our whole group did that.”

Her offensive numbers are pretty impressive as she's averaging 17.0 points, 5.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds. She’s now just the fourth player to have over 50 points and 21 assists in her first three games, joining Sue Bird, Nikki McCray and Candace Parker.

There are definitely areas for improvement. She's only shooting 40% from the field -- down 5% from her final college season and she has 21 turnovers in the first three games. Her 10 in the opening game were the most ever by a player in their debut.

Opposing players have been sticking up for Clark when asked about the rookie.

“I think the media needs to give her a little bit of grace and time to develop into a player,” Liberty center Jonquel Jones said. “She’s learning every game she’s out there. Her impact on this league is going to be tremendous and only grow as she matures.

“But just give her some time, man. Look at Kelsey Plum and how it was for her when she first came into this league and the player that she is now. Just give her some grace.”

Even if her stats haven't been at the same eye-popping level they were in college yet, Clark has already left her mark. Her first three games with the Fever have been huge for attendance and TV ratings. The Connecticut Sun sold out their home opener for the first time in 20 years. The game set a record for highest viewership on an ESPN network for the WNBA.

More than 17,000 fans turned out for the Fever’s home opener against the Liberty on Thursday night.

New York had a sellout on Saturday and the Liberty had more than $2 million in ticket revenue for the game at the Barclays Center, a WNBA record, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk about the team’s revenue.

“I think the buzz and eyes that Caitlin has brought from Iowa now to the WNBA is going to be a collective win for all. When I first started in the league, some teams weren’t even making revenue," Liberty forward Breanna Stewart said. "It’s a long time coming. We’re happy to be at this point, but we’re not satisfied.”

Clark said she was most excited when she got back to Indiana that she was going to be able to move into her apartment. She had been living in a hotel since getting to the city last month.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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