Big Ten’s worst kept secret revealed with Caitlin Clark named Player of the Year
Junior guard wins award for second consecutive year
By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The worst kept secret in the Big Ten was revealed Tuesday when Iowa junior Caitlin Clark was named the conference player of the year. The reveal took place on the Big Ten Network, and Clark, wearing a hoodie with the traditional Herky front and center, was interviewed by Dave Revsine for several minutes.
“I think she’s the best player in America,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “So for me it was a no-brainer. It’s kind of anticlimactic for me that she gets this honor, and I know how hard it is to get it.”
This was Clark’s second consecutive POY. Last year she beat out Michigan star Naz Hillmon and this year Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes. To say Clark finished the regular season with a flourish is to vastly understate the impact of that 25-foot buzzer beater that took down No. 2 Indiana two days ago.
Clark is second in the nation in scoring, averaging 27.2 points per game and is first in the nation in assists, averaging 8.2 per game.
Five of the last six women honored as the Big Ten player of the year were Hawkeyes. Clark won twice, Megan Gustafson twice and Kathleen Doyle won as a senior.
“Five out of six years an Iowa person has won that honor is incredible,” Bluder said. “So I’m excited for Caitlin, but I know she has even bigger dreams.”
This succession of individual success has brought attention to Bluder’s program in the best ways possible.
“It just shows the stability of our program, the great recruits that we’re getting,” she said. “It really is exciting, you know, that we can show recruits that, ‘you come to Iowa and you can be developed into one of the very best players in the country.’”
Iowa also struck gold when Clark and super senior Monika Czinano were unanimously named to the all-Big Ten first team by coaches and media. It was Clark’s third time as a first-team all-Big Ten selection and Czinano’s fourth time.
“Four years in a row? Holy cow, that’s amazing,” Bluder said. “I mean, I guess I had forgotten that or didn’t realize that at the time, but that’s an amazing accomplishment. That’s consistency over that period of time.”
Czinano led the nation in field-goal percentage the last two years, was second as a sophomore and is fourth (.664) this season. She averaged 17 points and seven rebounds this year.
McKenna Warnock, Iowa’s senior do-it-all forward, was named honorable mention all-Big Ten. Warnock was the team’s third-leading scorer and second-best 3-point shooter. She averaged 11 points and six rebounds. Her statistics through her four seasons were a model of consistency.
Bluder said she thought Warnock deserved a higher slot. “But I know there’s a lot great players in this league and happy for McKenna to be named an honorable mention,” Bluder said.
Freshman Hannah Stuelke won the conference’s Sixth Player of the Year award, honoring the best player off the bench among the 14 teams. Stuelke was second on the team in field-goal percentage (61 percent) and grabbed 126 rebounds in her limited action. She averaged 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in Big Ten action.
“That’s really, really exciting for her and for our team and for the future of our program, as she’s only a freshman and receiving that honor,” Bluder said.
Stuelke didn’t make the all-freshman team, and Bluder surmised it was because Iowa’s freshman was not a starter as were the five players honored. She also added that Stuelke would be a starter for a lot of Big Ten teams.
“I think she’s very excited,” Bluder said. “Again, you know Hannah doesn’t realize, when we’ve said this over and over again, how good she is. But these kinds of things are acknowledgements. By not only, you know, by me and her teammates, but by other coaches around the league. I think that speaks volumes.”
Senior Kate Martin was named the winner of Iowa’s sportsmanship award.
The Hawkeyes will travel to Minneapolis Thursday to scout the Wisconsin-Purdue game and get acclimated to the tournament environment. They will play either the Badgers or Boilers at 5:30 p.m. Friday night.
Big Ten Awards
Player of the year: Caitlin Clark, Iowa
Defensive player of the year: Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana
Freshman of the year: Cotie McMahon, OSU
Coach of the year: Teri Moren, Indiana
Sixth player of the year: Hannah Stuelke, Iowa
All Big Ten
Caitlin Clark*, Monika Czinano*, Iowa; Makira Cook, ILL; Grace Berger, Mackenzie Holmes*, Ind.; Diamond Miller*, MD; Leigha Brown, Emily Kiser, Michigan; Jaz Shelley, Neb; Taylor Mikesell, OSU.
Kendall Bostick, Genesis Bryant, Ill.; Abby Meyers, Shyanne Sellers, MD:; Laila Phelia, Mich.; Alexis Markowski, Neb; Cotie McMahon, Taylor Thierry, OSU; Makenna Marisa, PSU; Jenae Terry, PU; Kaylene Smikle, RU.
Honorable mention (Iowa only): McKenna Warnock, Iowa.
All Defensive team
Makenzie Holmes, Chloe Moore-McNeil, IU; Shyanne Sellers, MD; Sydney Wood, NW; Taylor Thierry, OSU; Leilani Kapinus, PSU.
All freshman team (coaches/media)
Cotie McMahon*, OSU; .Yaden Garzon, IU; Mara Braun, Minn; Kaylene Smikle, RU; Serah Williams, Wis.
Caitlin Clark*, Monika Czinano, Iowa; Makira Cook, Ill.; Grace Berger, Mackenzie Holmes*; Diamond Miller*, Shyanne Sellers, MD; Leigha Brown, Mich.; Taylor Mikeselll, OSU; Makenna Marisa, PSU.
Kendall Bostic, Genesis Bryant, Ill.; Chloe Moore-McNeil, IU; Abby Meyers, MD; Emily Kiser, Laila Phelia, Mich.; Alexis Markowski, Jaz Shelley, Neb.; Cotie McMahon, Taylor Thierry, OSU; Kaylene Smikle, RU.
All Defensive Team
Makenzie Holmes, IU; Shyanne Sellers, MD; Sydney Wood, NW; Jenae Terry, PU; Leilani Kapinus, PSU.