The enthusiastic crowd loudly cheers for Caitlin Clark during her first game at home with the Fever, where they secured an 83-80 victory

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Caitlin Clark celebrating with her teammates

Caitlin Clark made her first appearance at her new home stadium on Thursday evening, surrounded by No. 22 shirts and jerseys filling the stands. She ended the night with her first victory in the WNBA.

The crowd, though arriving late, was exceptionally loud as they welcomed Clark to the Fever team. Their cheers erupted when she scored her first basket, a layup early in the first quarter. The excitement grew when she converted a three-point play soon after and reached its peak when she sank a long 3-pointer late in the third quarter.

Despite not meeting all expectations, Clark successfully faced the city’s high anticipation for her rookie debut, which had been likened to Peyton Manning’s debut for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts in 1998.

In an 83-80 preseason win against the Atlanta Dream, Clark scored 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out six assists, but also committed six turnovers. She made 4 of 12 field goals and 2 of 9 three-point attempts in her 31 minutes of play.

Caitlin Clark gives autographs for her junior fans

Reflecting on her debut, Clark expressed joy at the lively crowd and their enthusiastic support. She noted the impressive turnout for a preseason game on a weeknight and believed it would continue to boost the team’s morale throughout the season.

The crowd had a big impact on Thursday as Clark helped the Fever come back from being down by a lot early on after losing last week’s preseason game in Dallas.

One fan held up a sign saying “Welcome to Indy Caitlin! — Caitlin M.” The official count showed 13,028 people attending – almost three times more than the around 4,000 per game the Indiana team had during their 20 home games in 2023.

After the game, Clark met up with her close friend and former college teammate Gabbie Marshall, and they took a photo together. Most of the people came to see Clark – even though the game was rescheduled.

Originally, Indiana was supposed to play on Friday, but they moved the game because the NBA announced that the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks would play Game 3 of their best-of-seven series at that time.

For Clark, who was the number one overall pick in the WNBA draft, it’s been a fast change from playing college basketball just a month ago to the professional style. And this game didn’t have as much excitement as people might have thought.

Caitlin Clark looks to pass the ball to her teammate

Clark prepared quietly and attentively before the game, staying focused even as music played loudly and the seats filled up. But once the game began, Clark and her teammates were fully focused on the task at hand.

“I don’t think I played that well, to be honest,” Clark admitted. “I think my passing was good, though. I tried to find my teammates and set them up. Of course, I wish I had made a few more 3-pointers, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.”

However, the struggles weren’t solely Clark’s responsibility. Opponents are naturally trying to slow down the highest scorer in NCAA Division I history. Atlanta’s strategy was to pressure Clark with tough defense, using multiple defenders to disrupt her and playing physically to throw her off her game.

As a result, Clark had a tough time early on, and her teammates struggled to convert her accurate passes into points. Nevertheless, they also saw glimpses of what this season could hold.

“She sets the pace for us, she moves the ball well, and if you’re open, you know she’ll find you,” said Nalyssa Smith, who scored the most points in the game with 21. “She can shoot from anywhere, everyone can score, and she’s always looking to make plays.”

Throughout all of this, Clark has been a huge success and a refreshing change for a team looking to turn things around. She’s brought more attention to women’s basketball than many before her, giving her a unique platform that she’s making the most of.

Christine Sides talks to Caitlin Clark

Her presence, along with other standout rookies in what’s arguably the most highly anticipated rookie class in WNBA history, led league commissioner Cathy Engelbert to announce a $50 million investment in charter flights over the next two seasons.

Meanwhile, the buzz surrounding Clark has led some opponents to move games to larger venues to accommodate the increased demand for tickets. Additionally, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 will now have 36 of its 40 regular-season games broadcast nationally.

For Clark, playing in front of packed arenas has become the norm. For her teammates and coaches, this could mark the beginning of something even bigger than they imagined, especially with a player of Clark’s caliber who has fully embraced her new city.

“For me, this is the best part,” Clark said. “You have to compete every single night, and if one night doesn’t go our way, we have a chance to come back a few days later and bounce back. I think this team will be ready for the regular season, and everyone’s excited.”


By Christopher Kamila

I am an experienced content writer with a specialization in WordPress. I have written engaging articles for various websites that have achieved a total of 5,500 monthly views. In addition, I have played a key role in boosting their organic traffic by 30% and achieving top Google rankings through SEO. My passion lies in creating user-friendly content.

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