116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The best things happen without preceding hype, things that gradually wrap themselves around our hearts because they're unusually good and special.
University of Iowa sports has had an embarrassment of such riches in 2020-21. Luka Garza for Iowa men's basketball, Spencer Lee for Hawkeye wrestling. Caitlin Clark for Iowa women's basketball.
The University of Iowa's top home attendance average for women's basketball over the last 10 seasons in which fans were present is 7,102, in 2019-20. Assuming Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be open to all in the 2021-22 season, we may see the home average zoom to 10,000, 12,000 ... more?
The Hawkeyes should have an excellent team, perhaps a serious Final Four contender. But beyond that, they have a phenomenon in Clark.
There hasn't been anything quite like this at Iowa. Admittedly, it's hard to quantify that when Megan Gustafson was the National Player of the Year just two seasons ago and Garza has become the Hawkeyes' first men's basketball National Player of the Year.
Neither went unnoticed near or far, and deservedly so. Theirs were careers that were extraordinary and unique here.
This Clark thing, though, feels like something else. Like she's going to be part of the national sports consciousness for the duration of her Iowa career, a true household name in sports.
As a freshman she led the NCAA in scoring (26.6 points per game) and 3-pointers (116) and was second in assists per game (7.1). Those numbers are crazy good, obviously, but it's the way she amassed them that captivated people across the nation so quickly.
Clark's long-range shooting ability that invites comparisons to Stephen Curry, the way she sees and reacts to everything on the court, her coolheaded tenacity - people that see her play for the first time become instant fans.
NBA superstar Kevin Durant wrote that Clark 'belongs in the league right now.” We assume he meant the WNBA, but who knows?
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe tweeted 'That Caitlin Clark is a show!! Will be fun to watch for so many years!”
After the first week of the NCAA men's tournament, ESPN men's basketball analyst Jay Bilas raved about the performance of Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim, but added 'He has been the second-most exciting player to watch in this postseason next to Caitlin Clark of Iowa. That 35 (points) she dropped on Kentucky was mesmerizing. She is fantastic.”
Following Iowa's NCAA second-round win over Kentucky that led into a Sweet 16 matchup with Connecticut, Dan Patrick opened his March 24 national sports radio show by saying this: 'If you haven't seen Caitlin Clark, do yourself a favor.
'It was a clinic that Caitlin Clark put on. She let everybody know she can do everything, and she probably could have had as many points as she wanted to against Kentucky. ... Back and forth, up and down, offense, defense, great passer, deep range.”
The Iowa-Connecticut Sweet 16 game on ABC averaged 1.56 million viewers on a Saturday afternoon. UConn is old money in women's basketball, yes. But that rating was the second-highest ever for a women's Sweet 16 contest.
With several more months for fans to salivate over the prospect of again attending live college basketball and the potential of the Clark-led Hawkeyes, something will be weird if Iowa doesn't average a five-digit crowd per home game. That joint's gonna jump.
It will in Ames, too. Iowa State, which came so close to a Sweet 16 berth itself, should have a terrific team led by Ashley Joens. She was fifth in the nation in scoring this year at 24.2 points per game.
The Cyclones and big Hilton Coliseum crowds certainly are no strangers. ISU has been in the top two or three in national attendance every year. It has averaged between 9,100 and 10,000 fans in each of the last 10 years in which fans could attend games.
Next season? Ten thousand might be one of the smaller crowds.
And the Iowa-Iowa State game at Hilton Coliseum? Get your tickets as soon as they're available, because they won't last long.
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