Clark settling in at Buena Vista

STORM LAKE – Nick Clark is becoming more than just a typical sophomore basketball player.

Clark, a graduate of St. Edmond, has helped the Buena Vista men’s basketball team to a 4-4 record as they head to Wisconsin for the Nicolet National Bank Holiday Tournament to conclude the 2013 portion of their season.

After seeing action in 25 games as a freshman last year, Clark has taken on a more critical role for the Beavers, who finished tied for the ICCAC title a season ago.

“I’m so much more comfortable this year compared to last,” said Clark, who remains atop the all-time scoring charts at St. Edmond. “As a freshman, the game moves so fast. Everyone can score. Everyone is more physical and faster than in high school.

“This year, the game has slowed down a ton for me. My role on the team has expanded.”

Clark, who was recently named conference player of the week, is averaging 8.2 points in just over 22 minutes. He leads Buena Vista with 3.5 assists a game and has made 42 percent of his three-pointers, along with sporting a 2.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“The court time my freshman year helped me to know what I needed to work on in the offseason,” he said. “I saw first-hand how college defenses would attack our offense. I can see things happening on the court much quicker than last year.”

Success has always followed Clark, as he helped the Gaels to a state runner-up finish his senior year on the hardwood. He also competed in several state baseball and football games with a prep.

Early on, Clark found out that just being a scorer wasn’t going to cut it at the collegiate level.

“Everybody can do that,” he said. “So if you want to play, you have to be able to defend. Defense has been a big focus of mine.

“I’m a much more solid basketball player. I have become a better ball-handler and efficient shooter.”

Clark pointed to a Buena Vista win over then-No. 20 (Div. III) Wisconsin-Platteville as a key moment in the early portion of the season. He scored 20 points on 5 of 10 shooting, hitting all four of his three-pointers and going 6-for-8 from the line, while adding five assists and three rebounds.

“We are a very talented team – we’ve just let two games slip away from us that we were in position to win,” Clark said. “(Winning player of the week honors) was pretty special, as I followed up (the Platteville game) with nine assists in our next game.”

Clark is majoring in physical education with minors in coaching and exercise science. The juggling act of daily basketball duties and classes has been an easy transition.

“I know what needs to be done for each class and I make sure it gets done,” he said. “Basketball takes up a lot of time, but it doesn’t affect school at all as long as you take care of business and prioritize.”

Buena Vista plays in Orange City against Northwestern on Jan. 4 before opening up league play at Coe Jan. 8.