Five-time WNBA All-Star understands Caitlin Clark's growing pains: 'Happens to all of us'

INDIANAPOLIS – Courtney Vandersloot knows how Caitlin Clark feels. Kind of.

In 2011, Vandersloot was wrapping up a record-setting career at Gonzaga. Though Vandersloot was a dominant mid major player, there were concerns about her size. She’s just 5-foot-8 and, she joked “130 pounds soaking wet” (she plays at 137 now). While she was considered a top prospect, Vandersloot knew “I wasn’t on every team’s scouting report.”

Vandersloot, a five-time All-Star, understood how good the WNBA was and wasn’t sure if she’d make a final roster. So while Clark went into her professional career essentially guaranteed to be a starter for the Indiana Fever from Day 1, Vandersloot can relate to how difficult the transition is.

“I don’t think people really have a grasp of that, how different the game is from college to pros, there’s a very big jump,” Vandersloot said. “I knew it but I don’t think I could even fully understand it until I was living it. The margin of error is the biggest difference, especially from a point guard’s perspective.

"Things that were working in college — working your whole life! — all of a sudden don’t work anymore and now you’re throwing it to the other team. It happens to all of us.”

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) looks to drive past New York Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot.
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) looks to drive past New York Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot.

Vandersloot and the New York Liberty visited Indianapolis for Clark's home opener on May 16, when the Fever got run out of the gym 102-66. Though they lost again in a rematch in New York two days later, the Fever were considerably better, only losing by 11, 91-80. In those two games Clark averaged 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7 assists to go with 5.5 turnovers.

On Friday, Clark and the Fever finally got their first win of the season, hanging on for a 78-73 victory at Los Angeles behind two clutch 3s from Clark in the final minutes. The rookie didn’t shoot well for most the game, but came close to notching a triple double, reminding everyone afterward that “it’s not all about the shots.”

She has struggled from the field, missing numerous 3s and had trouble with turnovers. But on Friday she recorded just two turnovers to her eight assists.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Caitlin Clark's growing pains: WNBA star says it 'happens to all of us'