The treatment of Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark has been a hot topic among WNBA fans of late.

Clark has had a rough ride through the first 11 games of her rookie season, and that has led to backlash against other players, but UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma had some strong words for those critics.

Clark, the top pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, has not gotten a warm welcome from her peers at the professional level. Opponents make sure to get a body on her, and Chennedy Carter of the Chicago Sky received a retroactive Flagrant 1 after blatantly throwing a shoulder into Clark.


In a moment of frustration, Clark even called out the officiating in her games, and some are saying she is being unfairly targeted by other players. Auriemma, on the other hand, says those people are sorely misguided.

“If you’re a great college player like Caitlin was, the delusional fan base that follows her disrespected the WNBA players by saying that she’s gonna go in that league and tear it apart. … These people are so disrespectful and so unknowledgeable and so stupid that it gives women’s basketball a bad name,” Auriemma said while on “The Dan Patrick Show” this week. “So the kid was set up for failure right from the beginning.”

Auriemma also added that Clark is taking everything in stride. Right now, it’s just a matter of giving Clark time to develop more of her physical tools.

“I think she’s handling it great,” Auriemma said. “I think she talks a lot of s–t, and she gets a lot of s–t back. She deserves everything she gets because she gives it as good as she gets it. She’s just not built for the physicality of this league, and she’s not quick enough to get away from the physicality.”

Once Clark does get used to the physicality and gains some experience at the WNBA level, her skills should take over from there, according to Auriemma.

“When she gets it, she has elite skills that are going to help her,” Auriemma added. “She needs to be on a better team, and she needs experience.”

Clark has been in the spotlight since before the 2024 WNBA season tipped off, and the conversation around her has only gotten louder over the last couple of weeks. Despite that, Clark says she is just focused on trying to “show up and help this team to get better.”