Everything Caitlin Clark, Gabbie Marshall said ahead of Iowa’s round of 64 date vs. Holy Cross.

The 2024 NCAA Tournament is finally here. After another regular season filled with memorable moments, Iowa capped its pre-NCAA Tournament slate with another march toward a Big Ten Tournament title.

Senior guard Caitlin Clark poured in 34 points with five made 3-pointers to guide the Hawkeyes past Nebraska in overtime, 94-89, to capture Iowa’s third straight Big Ten Tournament title. Clark registered her 64th career double-double as she also dished out 12 assists.

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Fifth-year guard Gabbie Marshall, one of Clark’s longtime running mates, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and finished with three assists in the Hawkeyes’ win over the Huskers.

That duo will be pivotal in determining whether or not Iowa (29-4, 15-3 Big Ten) can emerge from the Albany 2 Region and back to the Final Four.

Ahead of their round of 64 matchup against Holy Cross (21-12, 11-7 Patriot League), the Iowa stars met with the media and discussed a number of topics.

Who is the one player that had the most influence on how Caitlin Clark plays

Caitlin Clark: That’s a good question. Honestly, I grew up watching a lot of different players. I always had basketball on, no matter what level it was. Honestly, the two biggest people that I looked up to were two of my cousins. My cousin ended up playing at Creighton for a while. Her name Audrey Faber. She played at Dowling. Like I always idolized her and she could score the ball well, she could shoot the ball.

So I would say like closest person to me was probably her, but other than that, Maya Moore, I loved the way she played basketball. You know, Sabrina when I was in high school. That was always who I had on. I always watched Oregon, always watched Sabrina and the way she played the game.

But I was just somebody that loved basketball no matter who it was. Like I always had the TV on, whether it was men’s, whether it was women’s, whether it was the WNBA, NBA. I always loved watching the games.

I feel like it was a lot of different players, honestly.

When she had her first ‘wow, I’m playing with this person’ moment

Caitlin Clark: Yeah. I feel like it was that way when I was playing USA Basketball. Like all those players are really talented. I would say especially when I was in high school still and I was on the U-19 team at the time and Coach Walz was our coach, Coach Close was our coach, and like Rhyne Howard was on the team, Naz Hillmon was on the team, Aaliyah Boston was on the team.

Like it was just like I came off the bench. It was just a loaded roster of players. Paige was on the team. Hailey Van Lith was on the team. All these players you look around and are having so much success, whether now in the WNBA, Rhyne was obviously Rookie of the Year, same with Aaliyah.

I think that — like I always loved being surrounded by really great players, and I always knew how great they were when I got to play with them, but at the same time I knew I could hold my own, but also it showed me a lot of ways I could get better.

Whenever I had those experiences, they were really special.

Impressions of Holy Cross

Gabbie Marshall: Yeah, I think they’ve got a couple pretty good shooters from the outside and they’re just a good solid team. We know they’re going to give it their all and give us their best shot, so I think it’s important for us to guard that three-point line and play good, solid defense, and honestly don’t do anything we haven’t done all year and just play Iowa basketball and get better.

How they’ve managed Caitlin Clark’s superstardom

Caitlin Clark: Yeah, I think it’s been a journey, and it’s honestly gone really fast, and obviously this last year has been really crazy. My life has been really crazy, all of our lives have been crazy. My main goal and my main focus is basketball and school and getting my degree, and that’s where I spend all of my time, doing that.

It’s been nice. Like I’m close to finishing my degree, so a lot of my stuff is online this semester and just getting to enjoy these last few months of basketball with my best friends has been really fun for myself.

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I guess that’s the thing where I find kind of peace in, is like I don’t feel like this is a job. I don’t feel like I have to go out there and score 40 points a night. I just go out there and have fun.

At the same time, I know this is a team sport. I have four other people on the court with me at the same time, and I can rely on them.

I’m going to need them if we want to reach our goals in March. It can’t just be me. And they’ve been playing amazing basketball, too. I don’t know, I feel like we still act the same way. We still, I don’t know, are the same team. We have the same culture that we’ve always had since I stepped on the court when I was a freshman.

I think that just speaks to who we are, and that’s the reason we’ve had success is because that’s how we approach every single day.

Gabbie Marshall: Yeah, I would just say obviously she has a lot of attention on her all the time and that can bring a lot of pressure, but I think she handles it better than anyone I’ve ever met. I know if it was me, it would be a lot on me.

I give her props for that, and I think she just comes in every day, every practice and just — you can just tell how much she loves her teammates and how much she loves her coaches and how much she just loves the game.

So I think that just radiates throughout everything she does. There’s no one more deserving than her of everything that she’s accomplished.

Entering their final NCAA Tournament

Caitlin Clark: Honestly, I would say for myself, and I don’t know if it’s the same for Gab, it doesn’t really feel like this is the end for us. I feel like that’s not really how we’re approaching it.

I feel like we’re approaching it like this is very businesslike. We are here to win, get back to the Final Four. I feel like if you approach it in a way of this is the end, this is our last time playing on our home court, this is our last time hosting, you could get too caught up in the emotions of it.

And sure, you’re going to feel the emotions at some point. That’s just going it’s going to go. I think just approaching it like a businesslike manner and going 1-0 every single day is always what Coach Bluder says.

I think that’s the biggest thing, at least for myself, is I understand we’re really only guaranteed one more game from here on out, but I think just going out there and having fun and approaching it like you always do, that’s what’s going to bring you success, and that’s what brought us success last year.

You can’t be too worried about when it’s going to end or how it’s going to end. You’ve just got to enjoy the moments and live in the moments and enjoy the moments and don’t let them pass you by.

Gabbie Marshall: Obviously I agree with everything she said, but at the same time, we know this is our last tournament, as well, and I think that just brings an extra motivation for the three of us.

I think just knowing that this is the last time we’ll go through this together as a team, just make the most of it, give it our all every night we’re out there.

Does being a No. 1 seed add any extra pressure?

Caitlin Clark: No, I would say whether we’re a 1 seed, whether we’re a 10 seed, it doesn’t matter. I feel like this team would have the same expectations of ourselves and what we’re capable of. I feel like everybody in our locker room knows what we’re capable of.

To be honest, I don’t think seeding really matters. It is what it is. That’s your draw. It doesn’t matter if you have a 1 by your name, doesn’t matter if you have a 9 by your name. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to come and show up and play every single night.

I think our group has great perspective on that. Obviously my sophomore year and a lot of the girls on the team experienced this, too, we got upset by a 10 seed on our home court. Anybody can be beat on any given day. That’s just how this tournament works. That’s why this tournament is so fun. But also you can beat anybody, too, and that’s where you can find a lot of success, and that’s what we did last year.

I think our team having that experience is the biggest thing and understanding how this tournament works is good, and more than anything I think just the experience is something we need to lean on. Not everything is going to be perfect. It’s how you respond to those moments that’s going to lead you to a win.

Gabbie Marshall: I think she said it perfectly.