They're Desperation Heaves for Most Players. For Caitlin Clark, They're Money.
A basketball player who perfected her form in her driveway can hit game-winners from nearly halfcourt.
Lisa Bluder, Iowa's women's basketball coach, has developed a clear definition of what constitutes a good shot attempt over her forty-year coaching career. A player must be within range, uncontested and in rhythm.
Then, Caitlin Clark, a 6-foot point guard, arrived on campus in 2020.
Clark, who led Division I in 3-pointers made in Division I during two of her three seasons at Iowa has shot regularly from just a few steps beyond the midcourt line. Sometimes she is off-balance and sometimes over the outstretched arms defenders.
Bluder stated, "I have had to change that." Bluder said, "But she's special player, so she gets unique opportunities."
Clark is a college basketball star who has captivated audiences and frustrated coaches with her long-range shooting ability. On Friday, the Hawkeyes will face sixth-seeded Colorado (27-8).
After Clark scored 45 points against his team, Wes Moore, North Carolina State Coach, said that Clark can score from anywhere. He also made seven 3-pointers. "I don't know what you do to stop her," he said. This is something I have done for a while and it's nothing like it.
Clark stated that she prefers to take 3-pointers when the game's in transition. She can get a rebound, steal, or inbound pass, and then push the ball up the court. Iowa was eighth in Division I for fast-break points due to Clark's ability in transition. Clark can be seen taking jumpers during transition in a 10-minute video.
Another shot that coaches tend to avoid is the transition 3-pointer. It has a low success rate and can be difficult to defend. However, Clark never cared about old basketball rules.
Clark, 21, said that he shoots transition 3s when he's in the gym. He is a little behind the line and on the move.
She said that they're more than just shots she takes in the game.
Clark is only 22 feet away from the key's rim. Most defenders begin harassing Clark from that point, forcing her to shoot further back. Clark is more efficient on attempts between 25 and 30 feet from the rim than on attempts within 25 feet. According to CBB Analytics (a website that tracks player stats), Clark is shooting 43.8 percent on deeper attempts. This is almost 14 percentage points more than the Division I average 30.1 percent. She attempted 20 more 3-pointers in the deeper zone than from closer to the line.
Bluder stated that a 25-footer or 27-footer can be more open than a 24 footer at times. Bluder said, "So, you know what?
CBB Analytics considers shots beyond 30 feet to be heaves. These are shots that are taken at the end of quarters or other games that wouldn't otherwise happen. Clark has become accustomed to shots taken from this distance. Clark is now shooting 30% from more than 30 feet this season, making 10 out of 33 attempts. This is six more points than the nearest player.
CBB Analytics founder Nicholas Canova said, 'It will force us to change how we view heaves. "We will definitely increase what we consider to be a heave because of players such as her.
Clark has been pushing the boundaries of basketball since elementary school. Clark recalled growing up frustrated by her father's insistence that she not take deep shots. Instead, he forced her to practice layups, midrange shooting, and other drills. Clark was only 10 years old when she began to take 3-pointers. She often practiced with her brothers in their driveway, before going to school.
She needed more space to take deeper shots. Her dad cut more grass from their lawn to make room for his daughter's shooting range.
Clark created the perfect form on the driveway with the help of her father. Clark believes that the most important aspect of a shot is how she positions herself and her feet. She sprints past defenders as she shoots long distance. Her dad's constant instructions of "feet below your body" run through her head, as she runs. Clark stated, "When I miss, I'm usually off balance."
Clark is still a formidable opponent even when her ideal form has fallen by the wayside. Last month, Clark caught a pass, tossed the ball towards the rim, her left leg kickin' in the air, and she landed on her right. Iowa won the game with this shot.
Clark laughed and said, 'I didn’t have much time for my feet to set, honestly.' Clark said, "That's a kind of one that you kind of hope you can get out and get in."
Clark and Bluder's most memorable match was against Michigan in February 2022. Iowa was home to only seven healthy players. Clark stated that Bluder gave her permission to break the good shot rule more than she had previously been doing.
Iowa lost but Clark scored 46 points. 25 of those were in the fourth quarter. She pulled up in the middle of Michigan's blue "M" logo at halfcourt. Clark's shot went viral on social media.
Bluder stated, "I think that's when all of the world kinda picked up on it."
Her stock has risen steadily since then with numerous big games filled with deep shots, even though Bluder had to reel in Clark from time to time.
Clark's deep 3-point transition shot doesn't meet Bluder's revised definition of a good effort. The coach reminds Clark by using the phrase "time and score" to remind her that she didn't need the shot. Bluder pointed out instances where Clark hit one or two big 3-pointers and then shot another. This can lead to points in transition for the other team.
Bluder stated, "If she makes one, you can be sure that she will make another." Bluder added, "But sometimes, you have to accept the bad with good with her."