The Weekly Roundup: Logo Shots, 50-Pieces, and Mid-Season Madness in the SEC
Appreciating the splendid play of Caitlin Clark and Jasmine Dickey
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How is it already February? Granted, the three feet of snow outside my window is a painful reminder of what month it is. And while it’s possible the Covid pandemic has distorted my sense of time, it still boggles my mind that we’re three months into the NCAA season and only a few weeks away from conference tournaments. This season has taken fans on one of the wildest and most entertaining rides in recent memory, and it will be fascinating to see how several compelling subplots unfold.
One of those storylines is the Southeastern Conference. If there’s any conference emblematic of this season’s unpredictability (outside of perhaps the Big 12), it’s the SEC. Kentucky was ranked 13th in the preseason AP poll and fifth in the SEC preseason poll and has dropped seven of its last eight games to fall below 0.500 and to a 2-7 mark in conference play. Tennessee was one of the country’s hottest teams two weeks ago with an 18-1 record, prompting yours truly to anoint the Lady Vols as being “for real.” The Lady Vols have since suffered two blowout losses to Florida and UConn and a head-scratching defeat at the hands of the SEC’s last-place team, Auburn. Florida, a team picked to finish 11th in the SEC, sits tied for third at 7-3 on the heels of a 7-1 stretch that saw the Gators knock off five AP top 25 teams. That impressive span caught the attention of AP voters and earned Florida its first appearance in the AP poll since 2016.
In such a topsy-turvy basketball world, it’s comforting that there are still things fans can set their clocks by. One such reliable thing is prolific scoring from Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Delaware’s Jasmine Dickey, No. 1 and No. 3 in the country this season in points per game, respectively. Dickey and Clark are special players, but witnessing their games being elevated to the next level is a sight to behold. That’s precisely what happened this past week.
Power Six performance of the week: Caitlin Clark, Iowa
Video game-like, Steph Curry-esque, otherworldly - all are appropriate adjectives for Caitlin Clark’s performance Sunday night at Michigan. The Iowa sophomore became the first Division I player in the past 20 seasons to score at least 45 points and dish out 10 assists in a single game. Yet, it was her multiple logo threes that captured the country’s attention. For those unfamiliar, a logo three is a long-distance shot taken from a school’s logo near half-court. They are typically desperation heaves taken at the end of quarters or to avoid shot clock violations. As evidenced by the highlights below, Caitlin Clark is atypical.
When sports fans use the phrase “putting the team on their back,” Clark’s effort on Sunday is what they mean. She scored on or assisted on all but five of Iowa’s field goals. Getting trounced by then-No. 6 Michigan 66-41 with 3:23 left in the third quarter, Clark dropped 33 points over the final 13 minutes, helped the Hawkeyes trim Michigan’s lead to five points, and nearly willed her team to an improbable comeback victory.
Three weeks ago when Caitlin Clark’s triple-double against Nebraska was my pick for the Power Six Performance of the Week, I wrote that this could be one of the best individual seasons in recent memory if her long-distance shooting returned to form (she was just 22.7% from behind the arc at the time). Clark has hit 14 of her last 31 threes (45.2%), so I think it’s safe to say that her three-point shooting stroke is back. And lo and behold, the Hawkeye guard is putting up astronomical numbers. In her last three games, two of which came against AP top 25 competition, she averaged 38.9 points, 9.3 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per contest. Such outstanding play has Clark in the National Player of the Year conversation. After all, how can you ignore someone who leads the country in both scoring and assists?
Mid-Major performance of the week: Jasmine Dickey, Delaware
Jasmine Dickey dropped 48 points earlier this season against Eastern Michigan, the second-highest single-game point total in University of Delaware history. When asked how it felt to have the No. 2 spot, Dickey replied, “Pretty cool. I’m reaching for that first though.” She wasn’t lying.
The Delaware senior posted a stunning 52-point, 18-rebound, four-assist, and three-steal stat line in her team’s 103-79 win over the College of Charleston Friday night. While Dickey didn’t quite reach the program’s all-time single-game scoring record of 54 points by Elena Delle Donne, she can take solace in the fact that she now owns the school’s No. 2 and No. 3 spots and joins Naz Hillmon as the only players to record a 50-point, 15-rebound performance since the 2009-10 season.
When she catches fire from the field, Dickey has the capability to go off for a 50-point night. The problem for opponents is her uncanny ability to find ways to score even when her shot isn’t falling. Take for example Sunday’s game versus UNCW. Dickey shot just 5-for-21 from the field, yet still managed to score 24 points. How? She got to the free-throw line a whopping 16 times. In fact, Dickey’s 7.9 free-throw attempts per contest rank third in the country, and she knocks down these opportunities at an 80.3% clip.
“There’s some people, if their shot's not falling, there’s nothing else they can do,” Delaware coach Natasha Adair said after her team’s win over UNCW. “And that’s what makes her such a hot commodity. She can do all those different things. She is a complete player.”
Game of the Week: Great Scott! Oklahoma completes season sweep of Baylor
A few weeks ago, I expressed how entertaining the Big 12’s unpredictability has been this season. Of course, I was referring to the conference’s parity and not to the weather. However, Mother Nature decided to contribute to the chaos last week, forcing Oklahoma to travel over 270 miles to Waco by bus on game day. The Sooners arrived at Baylor’s Ferrell Center at 7:15 p.m., and the scheduled 7:00 p.m. tip-off was bumped back to 7:45 p.m.
Such challenging circumstances appeared to affect the Sooners in the early going, as Baylor jumped out to a 30-18 lead early in the second quarter. However, Oklahoma responded with a 13-3 run over the next 3:40, cutting the deficit to two points, 33-31. The remainder of the game was a nip and tuck affair with no team grabbing a lead larger than six points. With under 10 seconds to play and Baylor leading 76-75, Oklahoma’s Madi Williams penetrated to the basket, drew multiple defenders, and dished off to Liz Scott for the go-ahead layup. Jordan Lewis’ last-second runner just missed its mark, giving the Sooners their second consecutive win against the AP top 15.
“It was a crazy day and we ended up getting a crazy win,” Oklahoma guard Taylor Robertson said. “It was really fun though, we got to be together all day and to be together all day and come in and play as a team and get that win was cool.
Williams led Oklahoma with 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. In addition to scoring the game-winning layup, Scott dropped 16 points and grabbed five boards. Despite shooting an uncharacteristic 2-for-9 from behind the arc, Robertson still managed to contribute 14 points.
The Lady Bears held a 76-70 lead with three minutes left in the game; however, they struggled offensively down the stretch, scoring just one point on their final seven plays. Sarah Andrews led all scorers with 23 points and dished out six assists. NaLyssa Smith added 19 points and 12 rebounds, notching her 15th double-double this season.
Oklahoma (20-3 overall, 9-2 in the Big 12) followed up last Wednesday’s victory with a thrilling 101-99 double-overtime win against West Virginia and jumped to No. 12 in this week’s AP poll. The Sooners face Texas on the road Saturday evening. Baylor (17-5 overall, 7-3 in the Big 12) with a pair of wins against Texas over the weekend and next see action against Kansas State on Wednesday.
WNBA Free Agency News
Struggling to keep up with all the flurry of activity from the first week of WNBA free agency? We here at Her Hoop Stats have you covered! Richard Cohen broke down all the activity from the first few days of free agency and joined Gabe Ibrahim on the Her Hoop Stats Podcast to analyze each team’s offseason moves. You can also check out Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) and Richard on Twitter (@richardcohen1) as well as our team cap sheets to stay updated on the latest WNBA free agency news.
Adam’s Top 25
Here’s my top 25, which as always is based on the criterion of who would currently win in a hypothetical neutral-court matchup.
Her Hoop Stats content in case you missed it
In addition to the aforementioned Her Hoop Stats Podcast, the Her Hoop Stats team released the following podcast content this past week:
I joined Megan Gauer on Unplugged to discuss UConn’s signature win over Tennessee and the chaos in the SEC this season.
In the latest episode of Courtside, Gabe Ibrahim and Christy Winters Scott talked about Breanna Stewart’s return to Seattle, Liz Cambage’s tweet regarding how Becky Hammon’s salary compares to the league supermax, Naz Hillmon’s draft potential, and much more.
Robert Mummery previewed the four FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournaments scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Last week, we learned that Sylvia Fowles re-signed with the Minnesota Lynx for one year, her last one in the WNBA. Aneela Khan chronicled the remarkable career of one of the best centers in league history.
Kim Doss explored the impact of the Pac-12’s lack of media exposure on recruiting and consideration for national awards.
In his weekly ACC column, James Hyman covered Notre Dame’s thrilling win over NC State, Louisville’s penchant for slow starts, and the latest from Georgia Tech’s suffocating defense.
Other recommended content
It appeared that Millersport High School senior Bella Erlenbach had no options to continue her basketball career when the girls’ basketball team canceled its season due to a lack of players. Ever the fierce competitor, Bella tried out for the boys’ team. The Colombus Dispatch’s Bailey Johnson told this compelling story of drive and perseverance.
Texas A&M has never had a team composed solely of Black women until this season. In a guest column for The Next, Texas A&M guard Jordan Nixon reflected on the significance of this fact and the women’s basketball pioneers who made it possible.
Reporting from Indiana’s game versus Purdue during National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the Indianapolis Star’s Gregg Doyel analyzed the Hoosiers' fantastic start to the season and how the program serves as an inspiration for young girls.
For Hawk Central, Chad Leistikow profiled how competitiveness, a supportive family, and the right offensive system have helped Caitlin Clark flourish into one of the top players in the country.
Trivia question of the week
Who is the only player to win Big Ten Player of the Year four times?