Iowa Women's Basketball

Caitlin Clark returns to Des Moines for Wednesday's Iowa-Drake matchup

And Saturday will be even bigger for Clark and her family

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) goes to the hoop against Northern Iowa's Emerson Green (4) during their game Nov. 25. Clar
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) goes to the hoop against Northern Iowa’s Emerson Green (4) during their game Nov. 25. Clark is the Big Ten freshman of the week and returns to central Iowa when the Hawkeyes face Drake. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Divide and conquer.

That, according to Caitlin Clark, will be the attendance strategy later this week for her parents, Brent and Anne.

It’s also the game that Caitlin and her big brother, Blake, are playing in the college sports world.

Blake is a backup quarterback and placement holder for the Iowa State football team, which is reaching heights it has not seen before.

Caitlin is a rookie basketball player at the University of Iowa, and the Big Ten freshman of the week. Wednesday night, she’ll appear at the Knapp Center — a frequent childhood haunt for both her and Blake.

“I went to a lot of games there,” Caitlin said Monday. “The Knapp Center was 15 minutes away from home (in West Des Moines), so my brothers and dad and I went a lot.

“They have that little blimp that does a lot of stuff. I’m excited to go play there.”

The Hawkeyes (1-0) visit Drake (1-1) with a 6 p.m. tipoff.

Clark earned the season’s first Big Ten weekly award after debuting with a 27-point outburst in the Hawkeyes’ 96-81 victory over Northern Iowa last Wednesday.

“Her first game was pretty good,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said in an understatement. “You never know how it’s going to translate to the college game.”

It translated pretty darned well.

“Offensively, I think it was really good,” Clark said. “We scored 96 points. We could have done even better. At times, we played too fast.”

The Hawkeyes follow Wednesday’s game with a Big Ten opener Saturday at home against Wisconsin. That starts at 2 p.m., 30 minutes before Iowa State wraps up its football regular season against West Virginia. Blake’s team is ranked No. 12 in the country.

“It’s awesome,” Caitlin said. “(Blake) loves Iowa State football, and it’s great to see him so happy. When they’re in the Big 12 championship (Dec. 19), I told my parents they’d both better be at his game.

“But when we’re both playing Saturday, our parents probably will divide and conquer.”

Clark won’t be the only rookie of impact on the floor Wednesday. Drake’s Grace Berg is the Missouri Valley Conference newcomer of the week. The sophomore from Indianola — and a transfer from Missouri — scored 34 points as the Bulldogs split games against Creighton and Green Bay.

“They’ve got people we have to be worried about,” Bluder said. “Grace Berg is a really good player, she can score from all three areas. She rebounds and runs the floor well.

“Maddie Monahan is an outstanding 3-point shooter. Kiera Collier is quick and defends well.”

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Iowa’s non-conference schedule will be half completed after Wednesday. The Hawkeyes’ other two non-Big Ten games are against Iowa State and Western Illinois, both at home, Dec. 9 and Dec. 22.

“Our non-conference schedule, we did what we were advised to do,” Bluder said. “Try to play at home if possible, and play teams that are close.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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