Iowa women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder recently opened up about Caitlin Clark's remarkable leadership and influence on the Hawkeyes, highlighting her integral role both on and off the court. Bluder's comments came during an interview where she reflected on her coaching career and the impact Clark has had on the program.

“She was a great teammate. She included everybody,” Bluder said, via Washington Post Live. “It was the way that she led. She really incorporated her teammates. She was fun … She wasn't a prima donna, she didn't act like she was better than anyone else.”

Clark's ability to integrate her teammates and foster a positive team environment was a key factor in Iowa's success, the former coach said. Bluder recalled instances where Clark's actions exemplified her leadership, such as bringing teammates to the draft and gifting them Nike shoes and Bose headphones. The inclusive approach helped maintain strong team chemistry, even as Clark received several significant individual accolades and NIL deals.

Bluder, who recently retired, praised Clark’s contribution to the Hawkeyes’ achievements, including consecutive NCAA championship game appearances and multiple Big Ten titles. Clark's record-breaking performances, which include becoming the highest scorer in Division I history, were pivotal in these successes.

“She’s faced every kind of defense. She really knows how to pick them apart,” Bluder said, highlighting Clark’s adaptability and skill on the court.

The coach emphasized that Clark’s leadership was not just about her on-court performance but also about her off-court demeanor. Despite her rising fame, Clark remained grounded and supportive of her teammates, never acting superior or detached from the group. That attitude helped foster a culture of mutual respect and teamwork, which Bluder believes was crucial to the team's chemistry and success.

Lisa Bluder weighs in on Caitlin Clark's Olympics snub

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder and guard Caitlin Clark (22) react in the third quarter against the Connecticut Huskies in the semifinals of the Final Four of the womens 2024 NCAA Tournament.
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bluder also addressed the recent controversy surrounding Clark's omission from the USA Olympic roster, a decision that sparked widespread discussion. Despite Clark's impressive track record, she was left off the Olympic team due to her lack of international experience. Bluder expressed her disappointment but also acknowledged the competitive nature of making the Olympic squad.

“I obviously would love to have seen her on that team. She's represented USA Basketball many times. She's won three gold medals. But we have to remember, it is the hardest team to make,” Bluder said. She pointed out that while the current roster is filled with exceptional talent, there is a need to consider the future, especially with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Bluder believes that integrating younger players like Clark into the national team sooner rather than later would be beneficial for their development and for the team’s future success, but also suggested that giving Clark another year of experience would have been advantageous, particularly as she transitions from a rigorous college season to professional competition.

Reflecting on Clark's reaction to the snub, Bluder shared that Clark has always used doubt and challenges as motivation to prove herself.

“Anytime that somebody doubts her, somebody says she can't do something, she's going to go prove them wrong,” Bluder said.