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USA Today via Reuters

It hasn’t taken long for things to turn sour for the 2024 No.1 overall pick. After a 21-point loss against the Connecticut Sun on opening night, Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever’s home debut ended up being an even bigger disappointment as they lost to Breanna Stewart and the New York Liberty, 102-66. For a team that’s become a little notorious for holding quite a few unwanted records, the Fever’s blowout loss against the Liberty added another one to their name.

The WNBA was established in 1996. The first season was in 1997. In its 28-year history, no other team has done what the Indiana Fever did in its first couple of games this season. Soon after the loss to New York, ESPN journalist Alexa Philippou shared Caitlin Clark & Co.’s unappealing record on X. She tweeted, “Indiana has been outscored by 57 points its first two games — the largest point deficit in WNBA history for a team through its first two games.”

Just a year ago, Indiana beat the Atlanta Dream, thus ending their 20-game winless run, tied for the longest run in league history. Going a few years back to 2017, the Fever lost by 59 points (111-52) against the Minnesota Lynx – the biggest margin of defeat. While the team is clearly in transition, it doesn’t bode well to keep making unwanted history after drafting back-to-back No.1 picks – Aliyah Boston and Clark. Furthermore, Clark has already contributed to this history of embarrassing records by turning the ball over 10 times against the Sun. It was the most on debut in league history.

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The first regular game of the Fever against Connecticut saw them lose by a margin of 21 points. Things were no different for them in front of a sellout crowd of 17,247 at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday. Last season’s runner-ups, New York Liberty, were in control from the start, which resulted in them taking a 25-16 lead by the end of the first quarter. Despite the Fever closing the gap to 32-27 in the second quarter, a 12-0 run led by Breanna Stewart made the scoreline 44-27 at the halfway point.

Following this, the home team had 12 straight points, with Caitlin Clark contributing with the first 7. However, another 12-0 run in the opening minutes of the penultimate quarter saw the Liberty close the game with a 36-point margin. From an individual point of view, Caitlin Clark performed well below her standards. But the past couple of games did prove something Sheryl Swoopes said right.

Remember when the WNBA legend made those controversial statements about Clark becoming the NCAA all-time women’s leading scorer? Well, when she said that, Swoopes also added, “Will Caitlin Clark be a good pro? Absolutely. Will Caitlin Clark come into the WNBA and do what she’s doing right now immediately? Absolutely not. Not gonna happen.” For someone who got used to winning quite often with the Iowa Hawkeyes, these first few games would’ve helped Clark understand how the big leagues work. Maybe she could take a little inspiration from something Sue Bird recently said.

In an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, the Seattle Storm legend explained how she had to get used to losing. Following a stellar 114-4 record with the UConn Huskies, Bird reflected on her WNBA debut, a 61-78 loss against the Liberty. “I remember the first game we lost – the first game of the season. I’m in the locker room, having a little bit of a fit. I’m not used to this. And everyone in the locker room is like, ‘Where do you wanna go to dinner tonight?’ It took me a second to realize that that was also a part of pro sports.”

Until Caitlin Clark understands and accepts what Sue Bird has to say, she’ll probably blame herself for the team’s losses, especially after how her home debut played out.

 

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An unpleasant home debut for Caitlin Clark

The 6-foot guard made some dramatic improvements on her turnovers as she had just 3 by the end of the night, compared to the 10 she had in the last game. Still, her scores didn’t reflect the immense potential she has. In her 30 minutes on the hardwood, Caitlin Clark could register only 9 points and 6 assists in which she was 2 of 8 from the field and just 1 of 7 from the 3-point range, a far cry from her college averages of 28.4 points and 8.2 assists per game.

USA Today via Reuters

In addition, the two-time USBWA National Player of the Year couldn’t overcome her foul trouble as she had four fouls next to her name. Nonetheless, she converted all her chances from the free-throw line. It was a better game for her defensively, though, as she grabbed seven rebounds and one block for the night.

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A challenging time for Caitlin Clark very early in her professional career. With her kind of reputation, fans will hope she can bounce back when the Fever takes a trip to the Barclays Center next. But before that, she needs to make some serious adjustments in her game.