West Virginia coach downplays ‘send Caitlin Clark packing’ line that has his team motivated

IOWA CITY, Iowa — LaBradford Smith is famous for something he never said.

It was after a strong performance by Smith against the Bulls that Michael Jordan invented being insulted by the young guard, as fuel for their next meeting.

Caitlin Clark doesn’t need to rely on her imagination.

On Selection Sunday, West Virginia coach Mark Kellogg saw a potential second-round matchup with No. 1 Iowa flash on the screen and screamed to the gathering of family, friends and fans:

“Let’s win one and then send Caitlin Clark packing.”

Mark Kellogg’s “send Caitlin Clark packing” comment has gone viral ahead of their MCAA Tournament matchup. AP

The clip has been watched countless times, creating thousands of headlines.

Though Clark wasn’t bothered by the comment — “He’s probably just competitive,” she said — the first-year Mountaineers coach would take a mulligan.

A zebra doesn’t tap a lion on the shoulder to introduce itself.

“I’m not a trash-talking … I wasn’t out to get Caitlin Clark. It’s not Mark Kellogg versus Caitlin Clark,” the coach said. “Somebody else in the room is the one that used the ‘packing’ line to me, and it turned into, ‘Well, guys, if we want to do something special, we have to win one and then we’d have to send Caitlin Clark home.

“You know how social media works. The clip just keeps getting shorter and shorter, and then finally by the end of it it was Mark Kellogg is calling out Caitlin Clark.”

Internally, the Iowa superstar may be interpreting it differently.

When a rival high school’s fans chanted she was “overrated,” she responded with 42 points.

Caitlin Clark wasn’t bothered by the comment that West Virginia head coach Mark Kellogg made. USA TODAY NETWORK

When Iowa State’s crowd did the same in December, Clark left the rivalry road game with 35 points and a win.

Kellogg’s players don’t feel his words will be a burden.

They believe he could be prophetic.

“It definitely fired me up,” said West Virginia guard Jordan Harrison. “I want a coach like that, that doesn’t back down from anybody. I’m just here to back him up.

“I don’t think anybody in the NCAA wants to play us. … We want to make a statement, make some history. They have all the pressure.”

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