Iowa women’s basketball: How Caitlin Clark is changing the game



Opinion columnist Abigail Saathoff (right) with Caitlin Clark (left) outside of the Carver Hawkeye Arena before an Iowa men’s basketball game.

ABIGAIL SAATHOFF, Opinion Columnist

In 1940, the first ever men’s college basketball game was televised, and in 1975, 35 years later, the first women’s basketball game was televised. Much like anything, women have been late to the game, not by their choosing. I love basketball, and growing up watched the men’s sport somewhat religiously, but only in recent years have I fallen in love with Iowa women’s basketball. That fact is primarily due to star players like Megan Gustafson and Caitlin Clark who have slowly but surely turned women’s basketball into one of the most popular sports in the state of Iowa. 

In the history of Iowa women’s basketball, two numbers have been retired. Gustafson, who played from 2015-2019 scored 2,804 points throughout her career, and over 1,000 her senior year, and Michelle Edwards who played from 1985-1988 and averaged over 15 points during her career, and had 431 career assists, the fifth best in school history. But, if you look at current Iowa women’s basketball statistics, you will see names of current players, some of which, like Clark, still have two years of eligibility. Players like Clark, Monika Czinano, McKenna Warnock and more have changed Iowa basketball, and generated a huge rise in attendance, with fans traveling all over the country to watch them play. 

This is primarily due to Player of the Year nominee, Caitlin Clark. During Clark’s first two seasons with Iowa basketball, she exceeded expectations and is already beating her previous numbers with at least one more game to play (Sunday evening). During this season, Clark has averaged 27 points per game, and According to Women’s Sports’ Emma Hruby, Clark is the only player in 20 seasons to have “four straight games of at least 20 points and 10 assists,” and her points and assists are second in the country.  On top of her incredible statistics, Clark is just an amazing player to watch as a whole. Clark is known for taking shots from the logo 25 to 30 feet away from the basket. Even more impressive, according to the New York Times, Clark is 44% from those spots and has made 66 of her 150 attempts so far. Even better, when her shots aren’t going in for that range, Clark simply moves forward and in the March Madness tournament has made shots from all over the court. Here’s a nine-minute video of some of Clark’s “from the logo” highlights (

Beyond her incredible 3-point shooting, Clark is also a confident and phenomenal passer. During this season alone, Clark has had nearly 300 assists, all from incredible passes that come from Clark’s uncanny ability to find an open teammate and drive them to score. Most notably, her incredible assists go down low to Czinano. The pair have played together for the last three years and have become known as an elite scoring duo. Czinano is third in women’s basketball for scoring with 2,373 points in her five seasons and 67% field goal percentage and also has her fair share of accolades. During their second-round game against Georgia this season, Clark and Czinano combined to score a groundbreaking 42 points, leading to Iowa earning their ticket to the sweet sixteen. 

But, those two aren’t the only impressive starters for Iowa women’s basketball. Warnock is ninth in team history for scoring through her four years with the program and averages 10 points per game. Gabbie Marshall is a sniper from three-point range and leads the team with 1.5 steals per game. And Kate Martin is known as “the glue” for Iowa stepping up in any way her team needs; averaging 7.6 points, 4.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game this season, with a field goal percentage of 46.2%. Both Marshall and Martin have one more year of eligibility with the program and both plan on using it. Their bench isn’t something to be ignored either with players like Molly Davis and Hannah Stuelke making a big impact off the bench – Davis serving as just under 90% free throw shooter, and Stuelke, the 2023 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year, averaging 6.8 points in an average of 12 minutes per game. 

This team has gained unprecedented attention from the state of Iowa. Fans of the program have broken attendance records with an average of 10,705 people in attendance at each game. Even more so, fans have traveled so well that other stadiums for the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament have been affectionately called Carver North, meaning so many fans attended it was almost like the team played at their home: Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Players like Clark (and more) have also gained the attention of a lot of younger fans, and at every game, you see hundreds of little boys and girls fighting to be noticed by any player they can. I attended the first game of the NCAA tournament for Iowa in Iowa City, and a few Iowa players, Hannah Stuelke, Molly Davis and I’m pretty sure Addison O’Grady were sitting in the stadium to watch the first game of the day (Georgia vs. Florida St.) and were quickly surrounded by little kids and parents who wanted a picture or an autograph, and those players didn’t even start the game. 

Iowa women’s basketball has done all of this by simply; playing good basketball, and being good humans. The starting lineup, Clark, Czinano, Martin, Marshall  and Warnock have played together for the last three years, and fans have fallen in love not only with their uncanny scoring ability but their ability to put their egos aside and play extremely cohesively as a team. The team played this past Sunday evening against the fifth-seeded Louisville Cardinals for a spot in the Final Four. The team has previously beat Southeastern  Louisiana, Georgia and Colorado for their spot in the Elite Eight.