After starting in place of injured senior Branden Dawson, Clark found himself on the bench for the second half and overtime as the Spartans lost to Texas Southern.
”It was really frustrating, but I guess coach has a reason to his methods,” Clark said. “It’s a lesson I need to learn and it was good I got to learn it early as a freshman.”
Clark was benched by coach Tom Izzo after halftime, which Izzo said after the game was due to the freshman not being “dialed in.”
It was a humbling experience for Clark, who felt he could have made a difference in the outcome of the game, but he took an important lesson away instead.
“At the end of the day, if you’re not doing what your boss wants you to, it’s the next man up,” Clark said. “That’s something that he tried to show me is that I can’t let my emotions take the wheel.”
As a result, some of the emotions – frustrations over his play, in particular – were taken out on Izzo, Clark said.
But the bounce back after the benching was not something Izzo was concerned about. After a 15-minute meeting with Clark on Sunday, he saw the same thing as Clark’s first words were ‘I’m sorry.”
”I think he realized that he’s gotta do more,” Izzo said. “He responded and he worked his butt off yesterday.”
Clark said the meeting was Izzo checking up on him and talking about his play. The result was another start Monday in an 82-56 win against The Citadel – and a better performance overall.
”Tonight he did a lot better things,” Izzo said. “He guarded a little better. He rebounded pretty good. He did some better things -- I think he'll grow from this.”
The freshman finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes in the win, a stark improvement over the two points in 11 minutes against Texas Southern. Even though it was a jump, Clark said he wants to put in more work in the coming weeks.
”Over this little break, I am going to get thousands of shots up,” he said. “I need to get myself going and get myself back going from the 3.
”I think I need to just let the game come to me a little more. When I get it, I just fire it off and I think that’s one thing I need to focus on is just letting the game came to me.”