Chip Shots: Manage Your Expectations

May 18, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.


Caitlin Clark, professional women’s basketball’s arguably most heralded rookie, has two completed basketball games in the books after The Indiana Fever’s 102-66 loss to the New York Liberty.
Clark and the Fever who also lost convincingly to one of the WNBA’s strongest team defenses Tuesday night (the Connecticut Sun) got beat up… beat up real good.
Clark’s WNBA debut was before an audience of greater than 8,000 fans at the Mohegan Sun Casino arena in Uncasville, Connecticut Tuesday followed by her team’s home opener viewed by a capacity crowd in the friendlier confines of Indianapolis’s Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
To those of you who were disappointed in what you saw live at the venue, or on television, and might consequently go back to whatever it was you used to do when the W was on the tube:
Manage your expectations.
Disappointment in Clark is a lousy take.
There are people who expected her to take the league by storm six weeks following her team’s runner-up finish in the NCAA Women’s Final Four against a team who – even in a stranger statistical output in that game – exposed some characteristics of what WNBA hurdles Clark would have to clear for immediate success.
Clark needs maturity and time. She’ll be a success in the W. It’s time to watch her growth and her learning curve. In the meantime, imagine how much better the quality of play millions of fans watched this last winter during the collegiate season compared to the elite caliber being played in the W.
Stick around and watch, but again, manage your expectations.
Let’s talk about the eyeball test before we summarize stats many of you might have already read in the papers or seen online or saw for yourselves across the TV screen.
Defense: not Clark’s strong suit when she was in college, and now she’s in the top professional women’s league in the world fielding only eleven other teams, so it’s not diluted as far as talent goes. Guards and forwards had an equally easy time getting past her with comparably superior ability to move without the ball, or better moves to the basket than Calrk has seen at a collective level.
Physicality: Clark stands 6-feet tall and weighs 152 pounds. Her frame is not sinewy like some of the slenderer WNBA counterparts, but she is still in good condition. Her opponents’ tight defense in her first two games enhanced by more physical opponents (than say, some “poli sci” major headed to law school instead of the W) were visibly frustrating to Clark.
Indignation: a nice segue from the discussion of physicality, eh? In the opener against the Connecticut Sun, Clark was a rookie in a road game, and not an established superstar. No matter how heralded her debut was, the Iowa superstar behaved in a manner showing she was not accustomed to the non-calls she received while committing some of her 10 opening game turnovers, or putting closely guarded shots no where near the rim as they were partially deflected.
Clark, at least a handful of times, had her arms out to each side signaling her indignation for not getting a foul called when the outcomes went sideways.
She’s a rookie in the W, and she has to earn judgment in her favor when such results occur.
Caitlin is probably being told to manage her expectations among coaches and teammates during days and practices between games.
Logo threes: Clark will have to work for her patented logo threes in the WNBA. The fact she found it difficult to get room for an uncontested trey anywhere outside the arc is a powerful takeaway for the two-time NCAA women’s Player of the Year.
The Sun and the Liberty, who two opening opponents who are likely the best tow teams in the East this season, showed her some respect. They know what Clark is capable of doing when she isn’t contested.
She’s going to get a lot more… respect, too. Her preseason scoring average was impressive (16.5 points per game), but bear in mind some of her defenders were likely weaker, getting minutes to see if they could make the cut or be sent to pursue other interests.
Was I glued to the TV? No, I wasn.t because I managed my expectations. I paid particularly close to the starts and the finishes of each of the first three quarters, and stayed aboard for chunks of play.
I was impressed by the play in the second game by Clark, who adjusted to figure out how she could contribute to her team’s output.
She reduced her opening game turnovers from 10 versus the Sun to only three miscues against the Liberty. She scored 9 points, grabbled 7 rebounds and dished six assists.
The Liberty are not even a middle-of-the-pack WNBA team even with returning Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston and a few promising supporting cast members to boot. They’ll be on the bottom half of the standings this season, too.
See, I already managed my expectations. I’m not disappointed because I did not expect a messianic opening week for Clark.
Kids and grown-ups don’t throw away your Caitlin Clark garb yet. She has already given the W some flashes of what fans watched her do on the college hardwood. So to quote Carl Spackler, the demented greenskeeper in the 1980 golf comedy classic, Caddyshack, “…(she’s) got that goin’ for (her)….”
She will learn and grow, and she is a competitor. It seems Clark has some issues with intangible aspects of the game, but she should succeed. There are a few weak teams among the 12 franchises where she will find her groove and loosen up a bit.
Again, here’s your chance to see some other talented women, grown women, play basketball.
Will I still watch the WNBA? Yes, but I won’t be glued to the TV. I don’t mean that in a pejorative tone.
There is not much on TV that glues me to it. I’m always spinning news, sports, and entertainment plates in the air. My weekly phone calls with my uncle/godfather don’t end without him audibly frustrated on how my dosage of television is taken in general.
I tend to “kinda know” about this or that series or movie.
Recently, he rhetorically challenged me by saying, “Name a show you recently watched – a series specifically – from start to finish.”
I got nuthin.’
Inside the NBA, and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell are probably the two shows I watch from start to finish the most. They’re recap shows when you think of it. The third show would be selected NFL games on my NFL app condensed to 40-ish minutes taking out all the action between plays.
To watch or not to watch the WNBA. I leave it up to you.
From my experience, if record numbers of people could watch a considerably lower quality of play at college level in the millions, then millions are missing out on some better basketball being played in the W.
You won’t see the sellout crowds for exceedingly long, though, and the Fever are not a particularly good basketball team, so manage your expectations.

Caitlin Clark, professional women’s basketball’s arguably most heralded rookie, has two completed basketball games in the books after The Indiana Fever’s 102-66 loss to the New York Liberty.
Clark and the Fever who also lost convincingly to one of the WNBA’s strongest team defenses Tuesday night (the Connecticut Sun) got beat up… beat up real good.
Clark’s WNBA debut was before an audience of greater than 8,000 fans at the Mohegan Sun Casino arena in Uncasville, Connecticut Tuesday followed by her team’s home opener viewed by a capacity crowd in the friendlier confines of Indianapolis’s Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
To those of you who were disappointed in what you saw live at the venue, or on television, and might consequently go back to whatever it was you used to do when the W was on the tube:
Manage your expectations.
Disappointment in Clark is a lousy take.
There are people who expected her to take the league by storm six weeks following her team’s runner-up finish in the NCAA Women’s Final Four against a team who – even in a stranger statistical output in that game – exposed some characteristics of what WNBA hurdles Clark would have to clear for immediate success.
Clark needs maturity and time. She’ll be a success in the W. It’s time to watch her growth and her learning curve. In the meantime, imagine how much better the quality of play millions of fans watched this last winter during the collegiate season compared to the elite caliber being played in the W.
Stick around and watch, but again, manage your expectations.
Let’s talk about the eyeball test before we summarize stats many of you might have already read in the papers or seen online or saw for yourselves across the TV screen.
Defense: not Clark’s strong suit when she was in college, and now she’s in the top professional women’s league in the world fielding only eleven other teams, so it’s not diluted as far as talent goes. Guards and forwards had an equally easy time getting past her with comparably superior ability to move without the ball, or better moves to the basket than Calrk has seen at a collective level.
Physicality: Clark stands 6-feet tall and weighs 152 pounds. Her frame is not sinewy like some of the slenderer WNBA counterparts, but she is still in good condition. Her opponents’ tight defense in her first two games enhanced by more physical opponents (than say, some “poli sci” major headed to law school instead of the W) were visibly frustrating to Clark.
Indignation: a nice segue from the discussion of physicality, eh? In the opener against the Connecticut Sun, Clark was a rookie in a road game, and not an established superstar. No matter how heralded her debut was, the Iowa superstar behaved in a manner showing she was not accustomed to the non-calls she received while committing some of her 10 opening game turnovers, or putting closely guarded shots no where near the rim as they were partially deflected.
Clark, at least a handful of times, had her arms out to each side signaling her indignation for not getting a foul called when the outcomes went sideways.
She’s a rookie in the W, and she has to earn judgment in her favor when such results occur.
Caitlin is probably being told to manage her expectations among coaches and teammates during days and practices between games.
Logo threes: Clark will have to work for her patented logo threes in the WNBA. The fact she found it difficult to get room for an uncontested trey anywhere outside the arc is a powerful takeaway for the two-time NCAA women’s Player of the Year.
The Sun and the Liberty, who two opening opponents who are likely the best tow teams in the East this season, showed her some respect. They know what Clark is capable of doing when she isn’t contested.
She’s going to get a lot more… respect, too. Her preseason scoring average was impressive (16.5 points per game), but bear in mind some of her defenders were likely weaker, getting minutes to see if they could make the cut or be sent to pursue other interests.
Was I glued to the TV? No, I wasn.t because I managed my expectations. I paid particularly close to the starts and the finishes of each of the first three quarters, and stayed aboard for chunks of play.
I was impressed by the play in the second game by Clark, who adjusted to figure out how she could contribute to her team’s output.
She reduced her opening game turnovers from 10 versus the Sun to only three miscues against the Liberty. She scored 9 points, grabbled 7 rebounds and dished six assists.
The Liberty are not even a middle-of-the-pack WNBA team even with returning Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston and a few promising supporting cast members to boot. They’ll be on the bottom half of the standings this season, too.
See, I already managed my expectations. I’m not disappointed because I did not expect a messianic opening week for Clark.
Kids and grown-ups don’t throw away your Caitlin Clark garb yet. She has already given the W some flashes of what fans watched her do on the college hardwood. So to quote Carl Spackler, the demented greenskeeper in the 1980 golf comedy classic, Caddyshack, “…(she’s) got that goin’ for (her)….”
She will learn and grow, and she is a competitor. It seems Clark has some issues with intangible aspects of the game, but she should succeed. There are a few weak teams among the 12 franchises where she will find her groove and loosen up a bit.
Again, here’s your chance to see some other talented women, grown women, play basketball.
Will I still watch the WNBA? Yes, but I won’t be glued to the TV. I don’t mean that in a pejorative tone.
There is not much on TV that glues me to it. I’m always spinning news, sports, and entertainment plates in the air. My weekly phone calls with my uncle/godfather don’t end without him audibly frustrated on how my dosage of television is taken in general.
I tend to “kinda know” about this or that series or movie.
Recently, he rhetorically challenged me by saying, “Name a show you recently watched – a series specifically – from start to finish.”
I got nuthin.’
Inside the NBA, and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell are probably the two shows I watch from start to finish the most. They’re recap shows when you think of it. The third show would be selected NFL games on my NFL app condensed to 40-ish minutes taking out all the action between plays.
To watch or not to watch the WNBA. I leave it up to you.
From my experience, if record numbers of people could watch a considerably lower quality of play at college level in the millions, then millions are missing out on some better basketball being played in the W.
You won’t see the sellout crowds for exceedingly long, though, and the Fever are not a particularly good basketball team, so manage your expectations.

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