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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Clark finds clarity playing under Duffy once again

Photo by Alex DeBuhr

This season is a full-circle moment for Marquette head coach Megan Duffy and senior guard Nia Clark.

In the 2018-19 season, Clark was a first-year at Miami University (Ohio) while Duffy was in her second year at the helm of the team. Then, Duffy moved to Marquette and Clark to Big East rival Xavier University, where they would play against each other.

“I wasn’t on the winning side when I was at Xavier when we were competing against Marquette,” Clark said. “You always know when you play Marquette you’re gonna get tough, hard-nosed competition and they were a tough, hard-nosed opponent.”

Now, the Indianapolis, Indiana native is back with Duffy, this time as a Golden Eagle.

“We’ve both grown up a lot I think. My first head coaching job, she was just a young baby trying to figure out life and it’s cool to have her back here,” Duffy said at the preseason media day press conference.

In spite of being at a new school, Clark still keeps in contact with her old teammates, even talking to them after Marquette’s win against Xavier Jan. 25.

“I came in with some really good people when I first got to Xavier, so I still keep in touch with them and try to keep the relationships that I built,” Clark said.

But once Clark entered the transfer portal last spring, Duffy showed an immediate interest.

“When I got into the transfer portal, she was one of the first people to call me,” Clark said.

With the Musketeers, Clark averaged 11.7 points along with 2.4 assists and a team-high 1.5 steals per game. Now with the Golden Eagles, she has had to adjust to Duffy’s defensive style of play, something she said requires a new perspective on the game.

“That’s a big change for any athlete, having to shift your mindset. But obviously if you’re a team player, you’re going to do whatever it takes to provide and bring whatever it takes,” Clark said. “It’s mental for me, sometimes at moments, you have to have that mental shift that ‘obviously, you’re not going to be the main leading scorer like you were at Xavier.’ So buying into my role and buying into the process and journey is what I try to focus on.”

Despite being in a new environment, Clark is used to one thing: the culture created by Duffy.

She said it was what led her to play under Duffy again.

“My freshman year when I was under Coach Duffy, I just always loved her winning culture that she always created. She had always been so competitive and she just brings out the best of you,” Clark said. “So getting the opportunity to reunite (with) her was a no-brainer to me.”

Duffy said she has been able to see the leadership in Clark’s play compared to the last time she was her coach at Miami (Ohio).

“When she’s a freshman, (she’s) just trying to figure it out and adapt to college,” Duffy said after Marquette’s win against Xavier. “So it’s pretty fun to see her as a senior, mature. She’s working on her master’s and just her leadership skills and tenacity have been great for us this year.”

First-year guard Mackenzie Hare said Clark helps get the whole team into the game regardless of where she is in the building.

“I mean, off the court, she’s continually pouring energy into the whole team and giving everyone confidence,” Hare said. “On the court, she’s always active and when someone else on your team is active, you got to be active, so she really brings it every day.”

To Duffy, Clark has acclimated to Marquette, and she said the future looks bright for the 5-foot-9 guard.

“She’s just so committed to this team. That’s what I’m just so pleased about. Just the way she thinks about other people,” Duffy said. “She’s settled into her role and I think even some of her best basketball is still ahead.”

Clark isn’t just helping her teammates. She has also made leaps and bounds in her individual game. She said she has worked on her transitions, pull-up game, getting downcourt and playmaking since joining the program.

“We really focus on individual skill development, so I think my game has expanded through that,” Clark said. “I get a lot of work in on the film and individually with my physician coach. It’s a grind every day. It’s really different than Xavier, but it’s really good for me.”

Clark said she is able to use her experiences in different programs to help her teammates.

“This has been my third school going from Miami, Ohio to Xavier,” Clark said. “I’ve experienced a lot of different teammates, I dealt with a lot of different environments and cultures. That’s helped me with my experience in life, just passing that on to the younger guys. I just think them buying into the process and staying in the present and focusing on what they can control is a big lesson that they can learn.”

This story was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAlbrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright
Jack Albright, Executive Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a sophomore from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is the Executive Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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