Caitlin Clark ready for WNBA debut tonight: ‘This is the pros. This is my job.’

DALLAS — It’s officially the day Indiana Fever fans have been waiting for. The day Caitlin Clark, one of the most-hyped picks in WNBA history, makes her debut.

Clark and the Fever open the preseason tonight against the Dallas Wings at College Park Center on the UT-Arlington campus. The 7,000-seat arena is sold out — an oddity for most WNBA regular-season games, much less a preseason game.

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“I would’ve liked to start at home, but just throw me out into the fire, why not,” Clark joked. “It’ll be fun, and it’ll be a great crowd, as always.”

This game will be crucial for the Fever, who are experimenting with new lineups both in the first and second teams. The first team Indiana will potentially run with is Clark, guard Erica Wheeler, small forward Katie Lou Samuelson, forward NaLyssa Smith and center Aliyah Boston.

“It’s exciting, right?,” Fever coach Christie Sides said. “This is what we’ve been waiting on. I mean, it’s gonna be fun. So we’re going to embrace it. I mean, we’re gonna come out here and we’re gonna you know, our goal is to be the hardest playing team in the league.”

Kelsey Mitchell, the Fever’s longest-tenured player, is doubtful with an ankle injury. Mitchell will likely slot back into the starting lineup once she returns, and Sides said she was day-to-day.

This first preseason game will also be crucial for Clark, who will be seeing live action in the WNBA for the first time.

“Obviously, there’s so much you can do in practice, but you become very familiar with what other teams are doing,” Clark said. “They’ll do some stuff that we don’t do. Coming into this game, you can scout and know some things of what they’re going to do, but they’re going to do some new stuff, they’re going to do some different stuff, but I think more than anything, coaches said, ‘Don’t be surprised by anything they do.’”

So, what will success look like for Clark in her inaugural professional game? The player who set 46 collegiate records isn’t putting any numbers on it right away.

“I don’t think it’s any statistical measurements, it’s just a feel as a basketball player,” Clark said. “Did you go out there, did you work hard, did you give it every single thing you had. I want to step on the court, then I want to leave the court tonight feeling that I played like Caitlin Clark, I played like I have my entire life.”

For the first time in a while, too, Clark said she won’t have any family coming to the game. While her mom considered flying down to Dallas, she said her parents need time to recover from all the travel they did with her for the Final Four, awards circuit and WNBA draft.

“They’ll be watching on TV,” Clark joked. “I’m sure they’ll be nervous, I don’t know why, but that’s just what they do … I’m flying solo, I better get used to it, man, this is the pros. This is my job.”

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