Caitlin Clark embracing next-game mentality: 'Nothing is going to be easy.'

INDIANAPOLIS — Caitlin Clark usually doesn't have trouble moving on from a big loss. She has the next-play, next-game mentality, always thinking about improvements for when she and the Indiana Fever are on the floor next.

"I think I've always done pretty well at being able to move on to the next," said Clark, who was 2-of-8 shooting and scored nine points in Thursday's loss to New York. "Sometimes it's maybe harder to move on from the close ones that you know you deserve to win, but this is a professional sport. Nothing is going to be easy. Just go back, watch the film, give yourself a little grace, but still find ways to get a lot better and take care of your body."

And in a league like the WNBA, that mentality is paramount. The Fever start the season with seven games in 12 days, playing every other day until it culminates in a road back-to-back on the West Coast. Clark and her teammates don't have time to dwell on their 0-2 record to start the season.

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Indiana has started the season with two big losses to Connecticut, 92-71, on the road, and New York, 102-66, at home in Gainbridge Fieldhouse. While the Fever went up against two of the most veteran teams in the league in opening week, it's a sign of how much they have to learn.

"The biggest thing is that we didn't play our best," Clark said. "We had some momentum going into the third quarter, but then it got away from us going into the fourth ... The more disappointing thing is that I thought we did it to ourselves, there was energy and effort stuff that could've been a lot better. It's just watching, learn from it and grow. Like I said, it's a quick turnaround in this league, so if you sulk on it too much, it's just going to keep compounding."

Both the Connecticut Sun and the New York Liberty made it deep into the playoffs last season — Connecticut was knocked out in the semifinals, while New York made it to the finals. New York boasts the reigning MVP in Breanna Stewart and 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones, while Connecticut has MVP runner-up Alyssa Thomas.

These teams are not going down easy, and they know everything about Clark's tendencies and game. They also know how to use the physicality of the league to their advantage.

"You have to remember, these are two of the best teams in the league, they're up there with the best of them," Clark said. "You're getting to play against some of the best players in the world, they're going to be physical. I'm getting face-guarded, I'm getting picked up at 94 feet, like, it's my second game. It's just a learning process, and they're not going to let it be easy for me.

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"They know exactly what I can do, they're going to be all over me, they're not going to let me catch the ball, so I think just finding ways to attack that, take advantage of that... and being physical back, like don't let them push me all the time. You can be physical back when they're physical with you."

The Fever travel to New York for a rematch against the Liberty on Saturday, then return home to play the Sun again on Monday. Then, they start a three-game West Coast road trip against the Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Sparks and WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.

Follow IndyStar Fever Insider Chloe Peterson on X at @chloepeterson67.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Caitlin Clark embracing next-game mentality after early WNBA struggles