Analyst: Why Caitlin Clark not going to Olympics may be what she needs

Jun 10, 2024, 3:34 PM

Caitlin Clark Jewell Loyd Seattle Storm WNBA...

Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm defends against Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever on May 22, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The United States women’s basketball team for 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris has plenty of notable names, including Jewell Loyd and her former Seattle Storm teammate Breanna Stewart, but it is also auspiciously missing the name of Caitlin Clark.

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Many have perceived it as a snub for the rookie phenom from the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, as Clark has become the most recognizable face in the sport, leading the charge as interest in the league has gained significant momentum with her arrival after a stellar college career at Iowa.

Should Clark have made the team? Perhaps. But it may not have been the best thing for Clark herself, as basketball analyst Elise Woodward, who calls Seattle Storm games, pointed out Monday when she joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

The reason? Clark could probably use the rest considering the whirlwind she’s been through in recent years. After all, the 22-year-old Clark played her last game for Iowa on April 7, was taken first overall in the WNBA Draft just eight days later, and the Fever began its season less than a month after that. And that’s not even taking into account the media attention she’s received and promotional appearances she’s made along the way.

The AP: Caitlin Clark not going to Olympics, hopes to make it one day with USA

“We would have loved to have seen her on (the US Olympic team). For her personally, I think it’s probably the best thing for her not to be on this squad,” Woodward said. “She took a European trip with her Iowa team, (then there was) all of the pressure and the ESPN articles and the national spotlight and all of that all season long with Iowa. She made it again to the Final Four, (and) as soon as that Final Four was done in packed houses, it was the WNBA Draft and she’s in New York and she’s doing photo ops. And as soon as that happened … she had a two-week training camp, (then) 11 games in 21 days or something just ridiculously crazy.”

Olympics could help Caitlin Clark

The WNBA will take a break during the Olympics from July 21 through Aug. 14, and Woodward believes that will give Clark something that is very needed.

“She’s exhausted, and you can tell in her play,” Woodward said. “She’s a fantastic shooter – Steph Curry range. There’s no shooter that has the range like Caitlin Clark. Nobody. But right now she just needs time to take a breath and settle herself in, and I would expect after the Olympic break when she’s had time to rest her mind and her body, she’s going to take off. There’s just so much on her plate right now.”

ESPN: Caitlin Clark says she’s not disappointed with Olympics snub

Clark had maybe her best game in the W on Friday, dropping 30 points on 8-for-15 shooting (7-13 from deep) with eight rebounds, six assists and four steals in a win over Washington. Woodward is optimistic Clark will able to find more consistency as the season wears on, especially after getting some downtime.

“I already think she’s one of the best shooters in the world, and I think just getting a little bit of rest – she had seven 3s in her last game, it was a phenomenal performance where she put in 30 – she’s going to get better as the season goes on,” Woodward said. “… She’s fabulous, she’s fantastic, she’s helping everybody. She’s raising the tide of all boats in the WNBA and women’s basketball.”

Clark and the Fever will be back in Seattle on Thursday, June 27 to take on the Storm, who are currently second in the WNBA’s Western Conference.

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Seattle Storm broadcaster Elise Woodward in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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