‘We’ve Gotta Do A Better Job Of Setting Her Up’ | Indiana Fever Coach Christie Sides Wants To See A More Aggressive Caitlin Clark

Indiana Fever rookie and 2024 No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark has been very solid in her first year. The do-it-all guard who’s known for her array of shots and innate passing ability is averaging a rookie best 16.2 points to go along with 5.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.4 steals and a block per game. She’s currently the only player in the WNBA ranked in the top 20 of all of those five statistical categories. 

While Clark is filling up the stat sheet in many ways as she did during her illustrious college career at Iowa, Fever coach Christie Sides wants to see a more aggressive Clark. After taking 20.1 shots per game in her four seasons at Iowa, with a career-high 22.7 in her senior season, Clark is now taking ten less shots per game with the Fever. For a Fever team that struggles to score at times, Clark can’t be taking just 12.2 shots per game, which is second to teammate Kelsey Mitchell, who’s averaging 13.4 attempts per game. 

Clark Does Lead All Rookies In Shot Attempts But Sides Wants More

Following the Fever’s 89-77 road loss to the Seattle Storm, their second consecutive loss after winning five of seven, the at-times-embattled Sides was adamant that Clark needs more shot attempts, and it’s up to her, Clark and her teammates to make that a reality. In her postgame interview Sides acknowledged that while her star player did score a solid 15 points to go along with seven assists, she only took nine shots, hitting four, including 3 of 7 from three. 

“Caitlin Clark needs to shoot a minimum of 15 shots a game,” Sides told reporters after the game. “She’s got to get shots, we’ve got to do a better job of setting her up, setting some really good screens for her to get open.”

Sides is correct, but the way teams have guarded Clark all season means she’s gotta come up with something that could throw defenses off a bit. Like, maybe using Clark as the screener and allowing to flare to an open shot. Just setting screens for her hasn’t worked too great thus far this season because teams are switching everything and staying attached to her. 

Another issue is the lack of playmakers on the Fever roster outside of Clark, who leads the league in turnovers at over six per game, but half of those come from her teammates dropping passes and not finishing plays that Clark makes out of multiple double-teams and various defensive looks. 

Clark Is Being Blitzed More Than Anyone Else In The WNBA

In an attempt to get the ball out of Clark’s hands, teams have blitzed her all season, forcing her to give up the basketball. That’s one of the reasons why her shot attempts are so low. Clark acknowledged that in wake of Thursday’s loss.

“When you’re playing off a ball screen a lot and you get blitzed, you’re just going to have to give the ball up. That’s just kind of how it rolls,” Clark said Thursday.

“We’re competitors. We want to win,” she added. “It didn’t really ever feel great out there tonight, even when we cut it to nine, it just didn’t feel like it was flowing too well.”

Sides Watches Storm Free Up Star Jewell Loyd All Game

Maybe Sides had an epiphany after watching Loyd get free time after time en route to her game-high 34 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 6 of 9 from three. On most shots there wasn’t a defender in sight because of the screens and player movement of the Storm to free Loyd up. 

Some of that’s coaching and scheme, and the other part is Loyd being a savvy veteran who knows how to set her defender up, something Clark is still learning at the pro level. 

If the Fever want to make the playoffs this season, Clark’s aggressiveness has to pick up and the rest of her Fever teammates have to be willing to assist in unlocking her full offensive potential. 

If they can it’ll benefit the entire squad. 

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