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WNBA star Diana Taurasi expresses optimism for Caitlin Clark’s game despite ‘reality’ warning

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Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi expressed optimism for Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark after the young sharpshooter struggled in the first two games of the 2024 WNBA season.

Clark didn’t exactly get the luck of the draw. She’s had to face off against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in the Connecticut Sun and the New York Liberty. Clark will get the Liberty again on Saturday afternoon.

Diana Taurasi looks on

Diana Taurasi, #3 of the Phoenix Mercury, jokes around with Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces on her bench in the fourth quarter of their game at Michelob ULTRA Arena on May 14, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

But Taurasi, who warned Clark that “reality” would hit once she entered the professional ranks, clarified her message before the start of the season and believes that the former Iowa standout will eventually get the hang of it.

“You know these days, everything takes a life of their own,” Taurasi said on Arizona Sports’ “Bickley & Marotta.” “Every little snippet, every little comment, any quote taken out of context.

“Look, I only said it because when I watch games — and I’m sure when you talk to any professional athlete — you think about what they’ll look like as a pro. How will it translate? It’s going to translate. Like any college quarterback, it’s going to take time.”

Caitlin Clark looks up

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, walks across the court in the first quarter against the New York Liberty at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 16, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)


Clark led the Fever against the Sun with 20 points but struggled a bit at home against the Liberty with nine points.

The physicality of the league was clearly above a level that Clark hasn’t seen before. Even Taurasi admitted she still doesn’t “feel comfortable.”

“It’s an uncomfortable league. It’s physical, it’s a grind. You never feel comfortable. You feel used to the things around you (as you play more),” Taurasi said. “At the same time, she’s in an interesting position where she’s played on the ball her whole career. Sometimes you have to play off the ball, sometimes that’s the solution.”

After the loss to the Liberty, Fever coach Christie Sides challenged her team to be tougher mentally.

“If somebody keeps punching you, you’ve got to be able to respond to it,” Sides said, via Athlon Sports. “You’ve gotta give some of that back. And that’s where we are. We’ve got to get to another level of mental toughness.

Diana Taurasi vs Aces

Diana Taurasi, #3 of the Phoenix Mercury, looks on during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 14, 2024, at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)