Iowa Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams Host Hawkeye Hoops from Downtown Iowa City

Both teams competed in various shooting competitions, including one between reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Caitlin Clark and “Big Noon Kickoff” co-host Matt Leinart.

Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Citlin Clark and Fox analyst Matt Leinart interact during the Hawkeye Hoops from downtown on September 30, 2022.

Sam Knupp, sports journalist


On Friday, the Iowa men’s and women’s basketball teams hosted Hawkeye Hoops from downtown Iowa City, engaging in shooting competitions between themselves, fans and “Big Noon Kickoff” hosts.

The first competition of the evening was a battle between women’s basketball goalie Caitlin Clark and “Big Noon Kickoff” hosts Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Leinart, a former USC quarterback, showed up to the event wearing an Iowa t-shirt.

Leinart tweeted the competition Thursday, telling Clark to “name the bet.”

But on Friday, just hours before the game, Leinart said he was nervous about facing the reigning Big Ten player of the year.

“She’s like the best player in college basketball and she’ll be the No. 1 draft pick at some point, but it’s exciting, it’s fun,” Leinart said. “…Obviously Caitlin and her basketball team are amazing. I mean, they’re some of the best in the country.

Clark got off to a slow start, but she picked up her pace to make five straight shots and blast Leinart and Bush.

“I thought it would be fun to talk a little slap on Twitter, and let’s just say she kicked my ass,” Leinart said.

Hawkeye men and women go head-to-head

Women’s basketball freshman Jada Gyamfi and men’s basketball junior Ahron Ulis teamed up in a shooting competition against sophomore Sharon Goodman and junior Tony Perkins. Goodman and Perkins took an early lead and didn’t let go, winning 31-16.

Next, Clark and junior Kris Murray teamed up against senior Gabbie Marshall and junior Payton Sanfort in a three-point game. Each team member had to shoot for a minute and a half – 30 seconds on each wing and 30 seconds at the top of the key.

Clark and Marshall took the field first and made 10 shots apiece, leaving Murray and Sandfort to decide the outcome. Sandfort started strong, draining his first two punches. Murray didn’t find his form, making just seven shots to Sandfort’s 14.

“[My performance] wasn’t good,” Murray said after the competition. “I think I gave all my three facts in training today.”

Fans take part in the competition

Clark said she was happy the Hawkeyes were hosting an event downtown.

“It’s fun to be here in front of fans,” Clark said. “Winning or losing doesn’t really matter. Just to get fans excited for the season, that’s all you can really ask for.

Friday was the first time Iowa men’s and women’s basketball held an event downtown. Men’s basketball senior Connor McCaffery said he would like the Hawkeyes to do more events like this in the future as it gives fans a chance to get to know the players better.

“It was awesome,” McCaffery said. “And I thought the turnout was great. The Hawkeye fans came out. And we really appreciated, you know, from our whole team. I know the women’s team did too. It was awesome.

Fans got involved in the final competition of the event, when senior Kate Martin and junior Patrick McCaffery both teamed up with a child.

Each kid had 11 shots, leaving Martin and Patrick McCaffery to break the tie with a sudden-death half-court shooting competition.

After missing the first two, Patrick McCaffery hit his third shot and emerged victorious.

“I’m just going to go back to the gym and keep practicing my half-court shooting,” Martin joked. “And if I ever have a last-second buzzer beater, then, you know I’ve practiced it.”

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