Clark was hit hard by Carter in their game Saturday, which resulted in Carter receiving a flagrant foul and a fine.

'We've lost the plot' on Carter-Clark foul

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Though a lot of it was to be expected, longtime UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma thinks that Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark has been “targeted” so far during her rookie season in the WNBA.

Auriemma’s comments came after Clark was hit by Chicago Sky forward Chennedy Carter during their contest on Saturday. That play, which was upgraded to a flagrant foul later by the league, has been subject to plenty of criticism and discussion in the sports world ever since since.

“Is she facing the rookie challenge, the rookie hardships that are inherent with being a rookie? Yes,” Auriemma said Wednesday, via ESPN’s Michael Voepel. “She’s also being targeted.”

Carter hip-checked Clark late in the third quarter of the Fever’s win over the Sky on Saturday and knocked her to the ground from behind. Carter was called for a common foul in the moment, but the league upgraded it the following day and fined her $1,000. The two had been going at it during the game in the lead up to the foul, but Carter escalated things significantly.

“Chennedy got caught up in the heat of the moment in an effort to win the game,” Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said in a statement, in part. “She and I have discussed what happened and that it was not appropriate, nor is it what we do or who we are.”

Carter — who refused to talk about Clark immediately after the game, which Auriemma called “junior high stuff” — said later that she has “no regrets” about the foul itself.

“At the end of the day, it’s all love outside of basketball,” Carter said. “When we’re in those four lines, it’s smoke. After, it’s all love.”

Clark has been fairly quiet about the play itself, and has instead largely just moved on. She’s averaged 15.6 points, 6.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game so far this season. The Fever are just 2-9 on the year, and are coming off a 104-68 loss to the New York Liberty on Sunday.

Though Clark is coming off a historic and sport-altering career at Iowa, and she has already helped break numerous viewership records during her short time in the WNBA, Auriemma compared her to several other former NBA greats on Wednesday. When players like Michael Jordan or Larry Bird entered the league, he said, they weren’t being “targeted” the way he thinks Clark is.

“I don’t remember when Jordan came into the [NBA], guys looking to go out and beat him up,” Auriemma said. “I don’t remember when Bird and Magic came into the league and elevated the NBA, them getting targeted and beat up just because of who they were and the attention they were getting.

“Appreciate the fact that now’s the time [for the WNBA]. I get it. It’s long overdue. Why are you blaming that kid? It’s not her fault, because you would trade places with her in a minute, but you are not there. You’re not her. So you’re [complaining] that she’s getting what she’s getting.”