Ex-Iowa coach Lisa Bluder ‘would love to have seen’ Caitlin Clark at Olympics: ‘The hardest team to make’

June 11, 2024
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Former Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder was among the many who were disappointed to learn that Caitlin Clark will not be headed to Paris next month with USA Basketball’s national team. 

But her concern isn’t for the women’s team in the Olympics this year but rather what Clark’s absence will mean for the team competing in Los Angeles in 2028.

Lisa Bluder of the Iowa Hawkeyes during a game

Head coach Lisa Bluder of the Iowa Hawkeyes is seen during the game against South Carolina during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at American Airlines Center on March 31, 2023, in Dallas. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Speaking with the Washington Post, Bluder said she knows how difficult it is to make the national team, but she “would love to have seen” the Indiana Fever rookie phenom represent the U.S. in Paris.

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“She’s represented USA Basketball many times. She’s won three gold medals. But we have to remember, it is the hardest team to make anywhere. It is the hardest team to make. And the 12 women that they have chosen are exceptional women,” she said. 

“The only ‘but’ I have is: What about the future? Because this team has not lost a game since 1992,” Bluder added. “So, they’re a great group. They’re experienced. There’s no doubt we’re going to win another gold medal in Paris. But what about the fact that in four years we’re going to be playing in L.A.? How are we preparing for that? That would be my only ‘but.’”

Bluder suggested it might have been different if Clark had at least a full year in the WNBA, but the “silver lining” will be the time off she’ll now have after beginning her pro career immediately after ending her career in Iowa. 

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark gets a hug from head coach Lisa Bluder after a game against Michigan on Feb. 27, 2022, in Iowa City.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark gets a hug from head coach Lisa Bluder after a game against Michigan on Feb. 27, 2022, in Iowa City. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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“I think it would have benefited Caitlin if she would have had another year of experience and maybe not be coming right off of her collegiate season where she’s pretty tired, as you can see in her play right [now].”

“Her body needs a rest,” Bluder continued. “And the silver lining is that her body will get some rest during this break. And I think that’s what we have to focus on is the silver lining to this whole deal.”

Clark has said that being left off the roster will be motivation for her. Bluder is familiar with that version of Clark. 

Lisa Bluder and Caitlin Clark

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and Iowa guard Caitlin Clark are seen after a game against the Michigan Wolverines on Feb. 15, 2024, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“Any time that somebody doubts her, somebody says she can’t do something, she’s going to prove them wrong.” 

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