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Are Caitlin Clark and Iowa doomed to repeat their history?

A month into the season, Caitlin Clark is Aliyah Boston’s main competition for the Player of the Year award. (Joseph Cress/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Propelled by monster performances from Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, No. 4 Iowa women’s basketball escaped an upset in an overtime contest with Drake on Sunday.

And while the Hawkeyes celebrated the 92-86 victory in Clark’s hometown, there was a feeling of déjà vu – and not the good kind.

Because while their comeback was exciting, it also heralded back to many of Iowa’s games last year, and to this common storyline: Clark and Czinano were a dynamic scoring duo, but where were the rest of the Hawkeyes?

When Iowa was bounced by Creighton in the NCAA tournament, the issue that plagued them all season came front and center in their downfall. Clark and Czinano take on too much, and other Hawkeyes need to step up.

Against Creighton, Clark finished with 15 points, while Czinano had 27. No other Iowa player scored more than 6 points.

Against Drake, the scoresheet looked similar, as Clark and Czinano combined for 64 of Iowa’s 92 points. The only other Hawkeye who hit double digits was McKenna Warnock, who finished with 11.

Is this a new season with the same issues for the Hawkeyes?

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Monika Czinano, left, and Caitlin Clark were a dynamic duo for Iowa on Sunday. But where were the rest of the Hawkeyes? (Joseph Cress/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Iowa has played three games, winning all three, and against Evansville and Southern, Iowa had more offensive contributors. Those teams, though, aren’t on the same level as Drake.

The Bulldogs are getting votes in the AP Top 25 poll, and a game against No. 22 Nebraska on Saturday might give a better indication of how good Drake really is. Led by sophomore Katie Dinnebier with 24 points, all five Bulldog starters finished in the double digits in scoring. They also held Clark to 9-for-28 shooting (32%), well below her 2021-22 average of 45.2%.

By the time the season ends, don’t be surprised if we see Drake with a few upsets to its name and a chance at an NCAA tournament bid. So Drake is a good basketball team, but that just underlines the concern over Iowa’s depth.

Clark and Czinano can’t do it all, and despite the initial look of the box score against Drake, there is potential for a few other players to step up going forward.

McKenna Warnock

The 6-foot-1 senior has made her name over the last three seasons as an elite rebounder, and against Drake, she surpassed Chase Coley to set Iowa’s rebounding record. Warnock also had 11 points, the only other double-digit scorer for Iowa, and she posted that mark while battling foul-trouble.

Last season Warnock averaged 11 points per game, and through three games this season, she’s averaging 10.3. Still, she’s had big scoring bursts, scoring over 20 points four times last season.

If the Hawkeyes can get even a couple more buckets per game from Warnock, taking her average up to around 15 points, that could make a difference. If she’s more of a threat, then opponents will have to devote more defensive resources to Warnock, opening things up for Clark, Czinano and hopefully making way for more scoring from other Hawkeyes.

Gabbie Marshall

The senior guard has never been a big scorer, averaging 6.9 points over her career, but there has been one offensive bright spot for Marshall: 3-point shooting. She’s off to a slow start this year (2-for-12), but the senior is at 40.8% for her career.

Last season she attempted around four 3-pointers per game, a number that hasn’t changed this season. But it should. Marshall needs to be more aggressive in shooting, because good things happen for the Hawkeyes when she’s making 3s. Against Drake, she made two 3s in the third quarter, which is when Iowa mounted its comeback to retake the lead.

Molly Davis

At this point in the season, Davis is a question mark. She transferred to Iowa after three successful seasons at Central Michigan. In the MAC, she had scoring success, leading her team with 18.6 points per game. But so far at Iowa, Davis is averaging 5.3 points per game in 25 minutes of action per contest.

Ideally, Davis will adjust to playing with the Hawkeyes and bring some of the scoring she did for Central Michigan to the court. But so far, that hasn’t happened.

Hannah Stuelke

If you’re an Iowa fan, here’s the player to be most excited about. It’s possible for Warnock and Marshall to increase their scoring averages, but as seniors, who have been averaging similar numbers every season, it’s not likely.

Stuelke, on the other hand, can become a third scoring option for the Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-2 freshman was ranked No. 45 in the nation coming into the season.

Named Miss Iowa Basketball during her senior season at Washington High School, she averaged 29.1 points in her final year, topping the entire state of Iowa. Scoring doesn’t always translate from the high school level to college, but Stuelke brings plenty of promise.

She scored 10 points in the season opener against Southern, then 14 against Evansville. The freshman had a harder time with Drake, finishing with 5 points on 2-for-6 shooting. It might take a while to settle in when it comes to higher-level competition, but Stuelke is playing about 15 minutes per game, and coach Lisa Bluder seems to trust her. Her natural scoring ability should develop as the season goes on, and by the time March Madness arrives, don’t be surprised to see her playing a big offensive role for the Hawkeyes.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

Caitlin Clark Signs Multi-Year Deal with Wilson, Gets Signature Basketball Collection

caitlin clark poses with wilson basketball
Clark is just the second athlete to get a signature basketball collection with Wilson. (Wilson Sporting Goods)

Caitlin Clark has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Wilson Sporting Goods that will include a signature basketball collection, the brand announced early Tuesday. 

According to Boardroom, Clark is just the second athlete to develop a signature collection with Wilson, with the first being Michael Jordan in the 1980s. In addition to her basketball collection, she will also "test, advise and provide feedback on a range" of related products. 

Three Clark-branded white-and-gold Wilson basketballs have already dropped. Each ball features laser-cut engravings of some of the guard's most memorable moments at Iowa, where she became the all-time leading scorer in Division I college basketball history.

Three Wilson basketballs from Clark's collection have already dropped. (Wilson Sporting Goods).

"I think it is super special, and it's been fun for me," Clark told Boardroom. "I feel like I was just that young kid who had those basketballs that I would store in the garage. I'm just very lucky and fortunate to partner with Wilson to create something that everyone can enjoy. It connects with a lot of generations, and it'll be fun to see kids walking around holding them."

The No. 1 overall pick at the 2024 WNBA Draft, Clark has been building up a slate of major endorsements since turning pro. Current partnerships include Gatorade and Panini, and she’s also close to signing a signature shoe deal with Nike worth a reported $28 million.

New York Liberty off to First 4-0 Start in 17 Years

sabrina ionescu of the new york liberty on the court
Sabrina Ionescu led the undefeated Liberty to a 74-63 win over Seattle Monday night. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty are 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2007. 

The 2023 WNBA title finalists notched a 74-63 win over Seattle on Monday night, with Sabrina Ionescu dropping 20 points alongside eight assists. After the game, Ionescu told reporters she thought the team was coming together a bit easier than they did last year.

"I think having a year together, we don't nearly have to communicate as much on the court anymore," she said. "Because we can just play off one another and read. And that's obviously been the growth of this team, is being able to play a season together last year."

The team’s defense has also contributed heavily to the season's winning start. Last night, the Liberty held Jewell Loyd to just 13 points and nine rebounds. Loyd let the Storm in scoring, with only two other players in double digits, while Nneka Ogwumike missed her second straight game with an ankle injury. 

Storm free agency acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith had eight points, and is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 assists per game this season. In her postgame remarks, Storm head coach Noelle Quinn called on others to give her grace in her return. 

"There needs to be respect about the fact that she's had two children and hasn’t played in 20 months," said Quinn. "She’s not going to come overnight and be who she was 20 months ago and we have to respect that and honor that. And I do.

"My grace as a coach is to know she’s working her butt off every day. You guys don’t see it. Every single day. Two children. Not one, two. Not many can do that."

Australia’s Sam Kerr Ruled Out for 2024 Paris Olympics With ACL Injury

sam kerr playing for the australian womens national team
A longtime Matildas mainstay, Kerr has made 128 appearances for Australia alongside 69 career goals. (Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Australia has confirmed that captain and star striker Sam Kerr will miss the Paris Olympics due to an ACL injury suffered early this year. 

Kerr, who also stars for Chelsea, tore her ACL in January. While unlikely that she would recover in time for the Olympics, Football Australia (FA) hadn’t confirmed her status until Tuesday when the team revealed its squad for upcoming warm-up games. 

In a statement, the FA said that Kerr remained on the sidelines and will continue her rehab program at Chelsea. 

"Attacker Amy Sayer (ACL) and forward Sam Kerr (ACL) remain on the sidelines with long term injuries," the report read. "Kerr and Sayer will continue their rehabilitation programmes in their home club environments and subsequently will not be available for selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Tuesdays 23-player squad is a "strong guide" to the final Olympic lineup, according to coach Tony Gustavsson, but others like injured midfielders Katrina Gorry and Aivi Luik could potentially figure into the conversation. 

"[They] most likely will be physically available to be part of an Olympic roster," Gustavsson said of Gorry and Luik. "This window will be a tough one for me and my staff in terms of evaluating players, where they are, and then the final selection process for Paris."

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