Caitlin Clark and Iowa basketball are ready to start a new season, having “turned the page” on their national championship loss.
While two of the team’s five starters from the 2023 NCAA Tournament run have departed, the Hawkeyes return one of the best players in the nation in Clark. And with that comes high expectations.
“We’ve turned the page. But I want my players to understand what we accomplished last year,” head coach Lisa Bluder said Monday. “I mean, that championship game was the most watched television audience ever in women’s basketball, and I want them to relish in that. I want them to know it’s possible, because if you don’t know it’s possible, it’s hard to accomplish it.
“I want them to know it’s possible, but absolutely, we’ve turned the page. We’re moving on. We know this is a whole different basketball team.”
Even Clark is having a hard time conceptualizing exactly what Iowa accomplished last season, even with the loss to LSU in the tournament final.
“It’s definitely hard to wrap my head around it,” Clark said. “What we were able to do for women’s basketball got people talking about the game. … All of our lives changed from that run.”
The buzz surrounding the Hawkeyes has only increased ahead of Clark’s senior season. Season tickets sold out months ago. Every single seat for every game has sold out, so anyone looking for single-game tickets is out of luck. And the team is set to host DePaul in six days in Kinnick Stadium, with roughly 48,000 tickets sold. The outdoor event is set to break the record for attendance at a women’s basketball game.
Bluder expects Carver Hawkeye Arena, where the team normally plays, to be just as electric.
“We’re going to challenge ourselves for sure. 11 of our games on our schedule right now are against top-25 opponents, so we will be challenging ourselves,” she said. “But when they come into Carver, it’s going to be one hostile environment. We have sold out every single game, every single ticket, so we’re excited about having — we want to get that national attendance record.”