Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Caitlin Clark makes more history; best Leap Day sports moments

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🏀 Good morning to everyone but especially …

CAITLIN CLARK

Sorry, record book writers: Caitlin Clark isn’t slowing down. Under two weeks after breaking Kelsey Plum‘s NCAA women’s scoring record, the Iowa superstar passed Lynette Woodard for most points in major-program women’s college basketball history.

It requires a bit of explanation: Woodard starred for Kansas from 1977-81, racking up 3,649 career points. However, the NCAA did not begin sponsoring women’s basketball until 1982, so Woodard is nowhere to be found in NCAA record books; she played when the sport was under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

This has caused Woodard to go unfairly unrecognized for years, but Clark’s excellence has helped shine some light on just how good Woodard was. When asked what she would say when Clark broke her record, Woodard responded, “Hey, congratulations. Welcome to the party.”

Now, it’s happened.

Clark passed Woodard’s mark on a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter of the No. 6 Hawkeyes’ 108-60 win over Minnesota. She finished with 33 points (on eight 3-pointers), 12 assists and 10 rebounds, meaning Woodard’s scoring mark wasn’t the only history she made:

  • 18th career triple-double, second to Sabrina Ionescu in women’s NCAA D-I history
  • Sixth triple-double this season, tied for third in women’s NCAA D-I history
  • 156 3-pointers this season, most in women’s D-I history
  • 503 career 3-pointers, second to Taylor Robertson in women’s D-I history

Clark is 18 points from passing Pete Maravich for most points in major-program college history, men’s or women’s.

😁 Honorable mentions

🏀 And not such a good morning for …

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THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Just as the Warriors were seemingly rounding into form and the healthiest they’ve been following Chris Paul‘s return, they’ve been dealt a tough blow. Andrew Wiggins is out indefinitely due to a personal matter.

  • Wiggins, 29, missed the Warriors’ win against the Wizards on Tuesday. After a tough start to the season, Wiggins has been playing better of late, and Golden State has won nine of its last 11 games and vaulted itself into a play-in spot.
  • Wiggins missed the Warriors’ final 25 games last season due to a personal matter as well. He returned for the playoffs.

As always, any absence leads to a chain reaction. Here’s who will need to step up, per Jack Maloney.

  • Maloney: “Without Wiggins, they’ll need youngsters such as Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski to continue stepping up, as well as more consistent play from Klay Thompson, who is now coming off the bench. Thompson remained in a reserve role in Wiggins’ absence on Tuesday, which suggests he will not move back into the starting lineup.”

😠 Not so honorable mentions

🏈 Jets give Zach Wilson permission to seek trade

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Much like his predecessor Sam Darnold, Zach Wilson struggled in three seasons with the Jets after being a top-five pick … now will likely be suiting up elsewhere. The Jets gave Wilson permission to seek a trade. Where he ends up and what the Jets receive in return are anyone’s best guess.

Since 2021, Wilson, 24, ranks last in passer rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio and completion percentage. But this isn’t a “bash Zach Wilson” session — he’s had enough of that — and his circumstances were far from perfect in the Big Apple. He has legit talent. There’s a reason he was the No. 2 pick. Maybe a new home can bring that out. Cody Benjamin has five potential landing spots for Wilson, including …

  • Benjamin: Chiefs — Wilson was unfairly compared to Patrick Mahomes coming out of BYU, but there wouldn’t be a better mentor for the physically gifted youngster. K.C. hasn’t yet developed a long-term backup for Mahomes, either, with Blaine Gabbert replacing Chad Henne as the veteran No. 2 this year. Wilson would surely embrace the chance to learn under Andy Reid.”

💰 Kansas bumps Lance Leipold’s annual salary

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Kansas is opening its checkbook, hoping to keep the coach leading the Jayhawks’ football resurgence in Lawrence for the long term. Lance Leipold received a salary bump to over $7 million annually, putting him in the same neighborhood as Oklahoma State‘s Mike Gundy and Oklahoma‘s Brent Venables. Leipold’s contract still runs through 2029.

  • Leipold inherited a program that went 0-9 in 2020. After going 2-10 in his first year, the Jayhawks went 6-7 in 2022, making their first bowl game since 2008. Last season, Kansas went 9-4 — its best record since 2007 — and won the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
  • Kansas finished last year 23rd in the AP Poll, just the second time this millennium it has finished a season in the Top 25.
  • That success came despite 2023 Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Jalon Daniels playing in just three games. Daniels will return in 2024.

It continues the Jayhawks’ recent investment in football, Will Backus writes.

  • Backus: “Leipold did such an impressive job with the Jayhawks in 2022 that his name was mentioned with several prominent openings during the ensuing coaching carousel. Kansas responded with a new contract that more than doubled his salary at the time. In August 2023 the university announced a $300 million project to renovate David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the surrounding area.”

🔥 Top Leap Day sports moments

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Listen, I love March Madness as much as anyone, but if we’re going to have to wait one extra day for the best sports month (don’t even try to argue), we might as well make the most of it. Here’s a trip down Leap Day memory lane, courtesy of Austin Nivison, including …

  • 1980: Gordie Howe scores 800th NHL goal — Howe beat Blues goaltender Mike Liut early in the third period to reach the milestone, and it was made more impressive by the fact that Howe was 51 years old at the time. Howe also got to celebrate the moment with his son, Mark, who was also on the Whalers‘ roster at the time. The 1979-80 season was Howe’s last in the NHL, and he scored just one more goal that year before retiring with 801 career tallies. That stood as the all-time record for just 14 years, when Wayne Gretzky buried his 802nd career goal on March 23, 1994.”

📺 What we’re watching Thursday

🏈 NFL Combine, 3 p.m. on NFL Network
🏀 No. 5 Virginia Tech at No. 17 Notre Dame (W), 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Warriors at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Florida State at No. 22 Louisville (W), 8 p.m. on ACC Network
🏀 No. 1 South Carolina at Arkansas (W), 9 p.m. on SEC Network
🏒 Avalanche at Blackhawks, 9 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Heat at Nuggets, 10 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Saint Mary’s at Pepperdine (M), 11 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏀 No. 23 Gonzaga at San Francisco (M), 11 p.m. on ESPN2

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