Home Sports Liberty’s Jonquel Jones: Caitlin Clark needs ‘some grace’ as she adjusts to WNBA

Liberty’s Jonquel Jones: Caitlin Clark needs ‘some grace’ as she adjusts to WNBA

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Liberty’s Jonquel Jones: Caitlin Clark needs ‘some grace’ as she adjusts to WNBA

No player entered the WNBA with as much media attention as the Fever. Caitlin Clark. And after three games – the last two against Freedom – the former Iowa standout has yet to experience a victory in the professional ranks after New York dispatched Indiana, 91-80, on Saturday late in Brooklyn.

Turning around the Fever, who went 13-27 a season ago to earn the No. 1 overall pick, was never going to be a one-woman job. And, as perhaps expected, the rookie struggled early, scoring just 29 points in her first two games on 7-of-23 shooting (5-of-18 on 3-pointers) with 13 turnovers and nine assists.

Breanna StewartA former No. 1 overall pick after winning four straight national championships at UConn, he knows how to enter the league with enthusiasm and have the other team’s attention.

“She’s a takedown shooter and she has that range. “When you come into this league and you’re the No. 1 pick, everyone is going to know where you are on the court at all times,” Stewart said Saturday. “She’s looking to make the pocket pass and that’s going to be the growth of this (Indiana) team throughout the season if they figure out what the right spots are depending on what defenses are going to do.

“I think it’s about respect up here. We know she’s a great player and we’re trying to do whatever it takes to make it difficult.”

In Saturday’s loss, Clark had his best game so far, scoring 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting (4-of-10 on 3-pointers) with eight assists and six rebounds, but with eight turnovers.

“I think I was just more active (in Saturday’s game), I think I was cutting harder, I was setting screens harder, I made some backdoor cuts for layups,” Clark said. “I think just playing with better rhythm is kind of a learning curve. It’s not something I always had to do at Iowa.

“But in the league, everyone is on me, they’re stalking me 94 feet, I get caught on every ball screen, blocked on every wobble screen. So I think it’s just a learning process. And I’m going to keep going. learning game after game, but I thought tonight was better.”

Jonquel Jones2021 WNBA MVP and former No. 6 overall pick said the rookie needs some room to grow in the league.

“I think the media needs to give her some grace and time to become a player,” Jones said. “She is learning every game as she plays. Her impact on this league will be tremendous and she will only grow as she advances.” She matures.

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

After the Liberty ruined the Fever’s first home game with a 102-66 thumping on Thursday night, Sabrina IonescuAnother former first overall pick, said the first struggles are the moments when a player “finds out what you’re really made of and how you can continue to improve as a teammate, as a basketball player, as a person.”

“Coming back to my first season playing, I was navigating being the No. 1 pick, having the target on my back and also navigating not being healthy and trying to come back,” Ionescu said, referring to returning after missing his rookie season with an ankle injury. . injury after only two games. “It’s just difficult. You will always have to fight against adversity. I think that’s part of everyone’s journey: being able to weather that storm and discover what makes you, you. And he is so young that he will be able to learn and grow.

She continued: “I’m not the least bit worried about what she’ll be able to accomplish in the league. I just know that she will continue to work very hard and keep going. “Good things will happen to good people.”

And Clark is ready for anything.

“It’s the same situation for all the rookies that come here, you can make any excuse you want, but there are no excuses,” Clark said after Saturday’s game. “The players that were in this league were rookies before they went through the same thing. So everyone goes through that.”

While the media attention on Clark creates pressure to perform, the attention has translated into success off the court, as 17,735 fans were at the Barclays Center on Saturday, earning the Liberty a league record of $2 million in ticket revenue.

“I thought the atmosphere was amazing. There are a lot of young girls here today, which is definitely fun to see, but the Liberty definitely deserves this crowd,” Clark said. “They’ve been amazing over the course of the last few seasons and they’re going to be amazing this year… Happy that New York has this kind of atmosphere and I hope those fans keep showing up and I know they will.” .”

For Stewart, “the enthusiasm and eyes that Caitlin has brought from Iowa to the WNBA will be a collective victory for everyone.”

“When I started in the league, some teams weren’t even making money,” Stewart continued. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re happy to be at this point, but we’re not satisfied.”

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