DALLAS – Iowa coach Lisa Bluder basked in knocking off undefeated defending national champion South Carolina for more than 12 hours before learning something else about the epic Final Four victory.
Among those watching the 77-73 win that put the Hawkeyes in the national championship game against LSU on Sunday was Iowa basketball legend Molly Bolin.
“Machine Gun Molly was here? Didn't even know that,” said Bluder, lighting up at the memory of one of the stars of high-scoring, six-on-six basketball from the 1970s in Iowa.
The first Final Four for the Hawkeyes in 30 years is leading to some reminiscing, like the 61-year-old Bluder recalling watching Bolin, now 65, with the Iowa Cornets, a pioneering women's pro team.
Or Bluder remembering assistant coach Jan Jensen once scoring 105 points in a six-on-six game, and averaging 66 points per game in high school.
Of course, that prompted questions for high-scoring sensation Caitlin Clark, the first female to score at least 40 points in consecutive NCAA Tournament games after going for 41 against the Gamecocks on Friday to match her total from the Elite Eight win over Louisville.
“We talk trash, come on now,” Clark said. “Yeah, Coach J, I ... tell her to go shoot at practice and stuff. She did the other day, and she shot this crazy weird hook shot thing that I’ve never seen in my life.”
With all due respect, of course.
“Yeah, Coach J, like one of the best players to ever play in our state as well,” Clark said. “She’s a legend. She’s way more popular than I even am. You should see this woman’s phone, it’s incredible.”
But with limits to that respect, of course, from a two-time national scoring leader who is likely to break the NCAA Tournament record of 24 3-pointers she shares with Virginia Tech's Georgia Amoore after both finished the semifinals with that total. The Hokies lost to LSU 79-72.
“She likes to think she can score better than me,” Clark said of Jensen, “but she can’t.”
MULKEY'S MULTITASKING SON
The Tigers trailed Virginia Tech by nine points entering the fourth quarter before rallying to reach the championship game for the first time in program history.
Tigers coach Kim Mulkey's son, Kramer Robertson, was playing his season opener at the same time with the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“He's like 0-for-3. I think he had two strikeouts. Well, obviously, he's distracted,” Mulkey said of Robertson, who played college baseball at LSU.
“We're down 12, and hell, he strikes out again. He thinks we're pretty much done at that point. He's in the on-deck circle, and somehow, some way, he got word that we're up 10, and he hits a double.”
Sure enough, the play-by-play verifies it. Robertson struck out, grounded out and struck out again before an eighth-inning double in Memphis' 9-1 win at Charlotte.
“When I left y’all last night, he FaceTimed me, and he was doing some pretty good celebrating with a few adjectives in there,” Mulkey said. “And I said, ‘Shh, you’re right in front of the media.’”
STARS ON STARS
With Clark in the title game, tickets on the secondary market are outpacing those for the last of Taylor Swift's three concerts Sunday at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, about 15 miles from downtown Dallas.
Clark's first reaction?
“Hey, I’m going to Taylor Swift in June, too. That’s pretty awesome,” Clark said.
How about a trip on stage or backstage?
“That would be cool,” Clark said. “Hopefully she likes women’s basketball. She should stay for the game tomorrow. How about that?”
LSU star Angel Reese is on good terms with the rapper Lil Wayne now that she has set the New Orleans native straight over reaching out to Elite Eight opponent Miami before doing the same with the Tigers.
“I told him, that wasn’t cool what he did. Because he from NOLA, so I was like, ‘That’s disrespect,’” Reese said. “We have each other’s number. He calls me whenever. I was the one that got the sound bite for the video that came out for the LSU page. So we cool.”
Reese, who plans to do some modeling after the season, was asked how she didn't already have a deal for eyelashes under name, image and likeness rules.
“Oh, it’s coming, trust,” said Reese, who has long hair to match her long eyelashes. “The lady I work with, it’s coming. Trust.”
And that's just the beginning for Reese, who is listed as a sophomore but just finished her third college season after spending the first two at Maryland.
“Hopefully I can sign into a shoe deal before I leave college,” Reese said. “That’s my big goal right now. Especially with NIL, I can make as much money in college, probably more than the WNBA. That’s going to be important going into the league emphasizing on my fashion. I love to dress up and love to put on clothes.”