Inside the new ESPN doc on Caitlin Clark’s

Avatar admin

Posted on :

Caitlin Clark flinging her sneaker at a locker room wall in frustration after a tough loss. Iowa coach Lisa Bluder and UCLA coach Cori Close lighting into their teams during halftime. Players being candid about which NCAA Tournament opponent they want to face. LSU coach Kim Mulkey telling South Carolina coach Dawn Staley right before the tip of their game on Jan. 25, “Girl, they can say whatever the hell they want, it don’t get no better than what you and I put on that f—— floor! And don’t you ever forget it!”

Filmmaker Kristen Lappas has helmed documentaries on Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 1996 gold medal-winning U.S. women’s basketball team, among other projects, and one of her guiding principles as a filmmaker is to not make a film soft. So, if Staley tells star center Kamilla Cardoso, “You gotta f—— play, Kamilla!” during an uninspired stretch from her star center against LSU, that’s what you are going to see.

“Generally speaking, when we see any content about female athletes, it’s usually very flowery, a little bit watered down, they’re polite, they don’t curse, everybody is friends and it’s very vanilla,” Lappas said. “That’s just not what it is. It’s intense and exciting, and women are (as) authentic and uncensored as the men. We hope that if people walk away with anything from this film, they realize that these women are just as intense and want it as bad as the men.”

That’s the takeaway from the upcoming docuseries, “Full Court Press,” which was directed by Lappas and features unprecedented access to Clark, Cardoso and UCLA’s Kiki Rice as they made their respective journeys during the 2023-24 women’s college basketball season. The four-part series is produced by Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions and Words & Pictures (Lappas’ employer) in partnership with ESPN. Episodes 1 and 2 air Saturday from 1-3 p.m. ET, and Episodes 3 and 4 air Sunday at the same time. All are on ABC and ESPN+. (Note: If you watch the ABC version, the explicit language is muted in the audio with subtitles for the curses. For versions airing on ESPN+ and Hulu, where it will be available for a month starting Tuesday, the explicit language stays.)

The Pulse NewsletterThe Pulse Newsletter

Free, daily sports updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

Free, daily sports updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

BuyBuy The Pulse Newsletter

How does the story end? Well, this you know. Clark and Cardoso ended up meeting in Cleveland in the NCAA Tournament championship game, an 87-75 South Carolina win that drew a record 18.9 million viewers on ABC.

Producer Hannah Bier spent 28 days with Clark for the doc’s filming, a journey that took her across the country. Clark was a huge figure when Bier started filming last October, but her stardom increased exponentially by April when the final scenes were shot in Indianapolis after Clark was selected as the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick by the Indiana Fever.

“We had talked on Zoom, but the first time that I met Caitlin in person was right around the team Christmas party that we filmed for Episode 1,” Bier said. “We established a connection very early on, and I feel like she just kind of got it. She understood what we were trying to do. She had obviously seen series like this before where you’re following a team and kind of get to know them. She proposed her own ideas for the series regarding some things that she was excited about going on in her life.

“For instance, she suggested that we go film with her on Christmas Day with her family. That is one of the most intimate ways to spend time with someone because it’s when people want to turn off and not focus or think about work. She told us that her family was going to the (Kansas City) Chiefs game on Christmas and that was something important to her. That ultimately ended up making the film, and it was a great lead-off point for us to tell her family backstory.”

Through Bier’s embed, we see Clark embrace her family privately after the loss to South Carolina in the title game. We see her prior to games in hotel rooms with teammates and reading inspirational texts from Ted Lasso himself, actor Jason Sudeikis.

“She was good about being like, ‘Hey, I only have 10 minutes for you here, but we can do this,’” Bier said. “We had a really good dialog throughout the entire year about what was important to us to capture and also making sure we respected her boundaries and let her have a senior year as a college student. You don’t get this access unless you build an insane amount of trust, and once we got to the tournament, I think they almost forgot we were there.”

Caitlin Clark and Kamilla Cardoso

After squaring off in April’s national title game, Caitlin Clark and Kamilla Cardoso were the Nos. 1 and 3 picks, respectively, in the WNBA Draft. (Roy Rochlin / Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)

Producer Adrienne Gallagher embedded with Rice while producer Suzy Beck followed Cardoso, including on two trips to Brazil. Rice let filmmakers into unexpected places, such as her talking with her sports psychologist about huge expectations. We also hear from Susan Rice, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who is Kiki’s aunt.

Cardoso had the most interesting story. Beck traveled to Montes Claros and Bélem in Brazil to interview Cardoso’s mom, Janete Soares, and her older sister, Jessica Silva. Cardoso came to America on her own at 15, speaking only Portuguese, and eventually developed into a WNBA lottery pick with great perspective. Lappas said she pushed to get a travel budget so viewers could see where Cardoso grew up.

This is a small quibble, but the series would have been stronger had they featured a third departing senior. Rice is a fantastic player with a glorious future but still trying to find herself as a sophomore. You can imagine the compelling footage had the third subject been LSU’s Angel Reese, Stanford’s Cameron Brink or someone else at a major program playing her final year as a lead-up to the WNBA Draft, like Clark and Cardoso.

Clark said Manning pitched her on doing the show — she has an executive producer credit — as a way to do a “Quarterback“-style show on women’s basketball.

“I think the biggest thing was you can see what we do outside of basketball,” Clark told reporters this week when asked about the film. “When you are in college, you see us play for two hours on the court, and that’s really all you get. You don’t get anything else. Now you get to see a little more into our lives.”

The final episode features the NCAA Tournament run for each team, and fans get moments we never saw on television. For instance, prior to the Iowa-LSU game in the Elite Eight, a rematch between Reese and Clark and somewhat of a media tsunami, Bluder is filmed in the locker room telling her team, “I caution you to get on social media or listen to that TV s— that’s going on right now.” That’s followed by Clark advising her teammates to “delete that s—!” The coaches of each of the players featured gave the filmmakers access to unfiltered halftime talks and some practice sessions, and it’s a glimpse into the reality of a high-level college athlete.

“They were OK letting us in, to see those vulnerable moments,” Lappas said. “They see it for what it is — a huge opportunity for the growth of the game.”

Episode 397 of the Sports Media Podcast features two writers from The Athletic who cover women’s basketball — Sabreena Merchant and Ben Pickman. They are also panelists on The Athletic’s Women’s Basketball Show podcast.

In this podcast, Merchant and Pickman discuss what they are seeing as far as local and national WNBA media coverage in 2024; what the preseason has been like; the upcoming WNBA national schedule; how they anticipate Clark, Brink, Cardoso, Reese and other rookies will do in Year 1; the dominance of the Las Vegas Aces and more. You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and more.



Will Caitlin Clark make the Team USA Olympic roster? Here are our picks

(Top photo from the premiere of the “Full Court Press” documentary: Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

Source link

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *