2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Reverse This Trend: Butler has lost six straight games for the second time in Beth Couture's 10 seasons and for the first time since January 2003. The Bulldogs dropped six straight from Jan. 7 to Jan. 25 of 2003, which was Couture's first year at BU. That team went 6-23, but quickly improved in each successive season.
2. Young Bulldogs: Butler has had young teams in the past, but no team has had young players on the floor for more minutes than this year's BU squad. Through the first eight games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 69.3% of the team's total minutes. Freshmen Haley Howard and Hannah Douglas have been starting in addition to sophomores Jenna Cobb and Sarah Hamm.
3. Trio of WNIT Berths: The Bulldogs have played in the postseason in each of the past three seasons, earning the Horizon League's automatic berth into the WNIT each time. In 2009, BU won 20 games and advanced to the WNIT second round, defeating Duquesne and losing to Marquette. In 2010, Butler won 23 games before falling 57-54 at Illinois State in the first round. Last year, Butler won 20 games before losing at Wisconsin in the WNIT first round.
4. 4 Straight 20s: Butler has won 20 games in each of the past four seasons, the first time the team has achieved that as a Division I program. The Bulldogs went 20-14 last year and finished second in the Horizon League. The Bulldogs were 23-10 in 2009-10, the team's most wins since 1998. BU was 20-10 in 2007-08 and followed that with a 20-12 season in 2008-09. Butler is 83-45 during the last four seasons.
5. Slow Start: BU, which has posted a winning record in each of the last six seasons, has started 1-7 for the third time in school history. Butler's last 1-7 start came during the 1984-85 season, two years before the team started play in what is now the Horizon League. That 84-85 squad finished 4-24. Butler's other 1-7 start came in 1975-76, the team's first season of varsity basketball.
Butler-Ball State Rematch: Last season's BU-BSU game in Muncie was one for the ages. Down 14 in the second half, Butler rallied to send the game into overtime at 81-81. In the first overtime, Butler scored with 2 seconds left to force a second overtime. The Bulldogs would take control in the fourth period when Mandy McDivitt hit a pair of 3-pointers, and BU held on to win 105-98. McDivitt scored a career-high 13 points in the win.
Butler vs. Ball State: Butler and BSU are meeting for the 20th time, with BU leading the all-time series 12-7. The series dates back to 1980, Butler's sixth season as a program. The Bulldogs have won three straight in the series and Beth Couture is 3-2 against the Cardinals.
10th Season of Beth Couture: This season marks Beth Couture's 10th on the Butler sideline, making her the first coach in Butler women's basketball history to reach 10 seasons as head coach. Linda Mason coached the team for eight seasons (1976-84).
Bulldogs Finish Second: Butler placed second in both the Horizon League regular season and the league tournament last year, accomplishing that feat for the second straight year. BU was 12-6 in league play and defeated Detroit and Cleveland State en route to the league tourney final, won by Green Bay.
All-Tournament Dawgs: Butler had one player honored in each of its two early-season tournaments. Terra Burns was named all-tournament at Iowa's Hawkeye Challenge and Haley Howard was all-tourney at Nevada's Nugget Classic.
BU vs. The MAC: Butler is 4-2 against teams from the Mid-American Conference over the past three seasons. That includes a 2-0 mark against Miami and Ball State. The losses are both vs. Bowling Green.
Freshman Impact - Haley Howard: Haley Howard, a freshman from Whiteland, is Butler's leading scorer with 11.5 points per game. Howard leads the team in field goal shooting (.508) and 3-pt shooting (.419) and she's the league leading in free throw shooting, having sank her first 17 career free throws.
Couture's Cause: When not patrolling the Butler sideline, Beth Couture has spent her time in the battle against breast cancer. Couture, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2009, rushed through treatments to make it on the sidelines for the start of the 2009-10 season. Couture has been cancer-free for more than a year and has participated in several awareness events. She is the honorary chairwoman for St. Vincent Women of Hope, a breast cancer awareness group. Each Woman of Hope participant pledges to raise or give $1,000 annually for the cancer cause of her choice.
Devin's Increased Production: Devin Brierly has taken on more of a leadership role this season, and her on-court production has increased. In addition to her scoring increasing 3.3 points per game, the 5-9 senior has been playing some point guard as well as making defensive plays and getting to the foul line. She was a career-best 10-for-11 at the foul line against Bradley and added four steals. She also had six assists, which tied her career high. Brierly tied her career high by playing 39 minutes at Indiana State.
Pressure The Ball: Butler has had success on defense when it pressures the ball and forces turnovers. The Bulldogs have forced 20 turnovers four times this season, including their last home game when they took the ball away 24 times against Bradley. The Dawgs are second in the Horizon League with 9.9 steals per game.
Home School: After playing seven of their first eight on the road, BU is beginning a three-game home stretch. After Friday's game, Butler will welcome Marian to Hinkle Saturday, Dec. 17. IUPUI will come to Butler Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Hamm Time: Sarah Hamm, a native of Winchester, Ind., near Muncie, had one of her best games against the Cardinals last year. The 6-2 Hamm totaled 15 points and eight rebounds in the double-overtime Butler win. Hamm scored 14 points last weekend at Bowling Green and currently owns three outings with 12 points or more.
Block Party: Sarah Hamm is leading the Horizon League with 1.8 blocks per game. She's had at least one rejection in six of the team's eight games. Hamm has blocked four shots in a game twice this season, witih four each at IPFW and against Bradley. The sophomore center owns 14 blocked shots, while the rest of Butler's team has 15 blocks.
Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 149 victories at Butler, sits alone atop BU's all-time women's basketball wins list. Couture last season passed Linda Mason, who coached at BU from 1976-84 and won 124 games. The record-breaking victory came at UIC on March 4 of last season.
Pro Dawgs: Two recent Butler players signed pro contracts overseas during the summer. Brittany Bowen, an All-Horizon League player last year who graduated May, signed with a club in Denmark. Just days later, 2010 graduate Susan Lester signed to play professionally in Turkey.
400: On Jan. 29 of last season, Beth Couture picked up her 400th career win. The 10th-year Bulldog coach now owns 407 career wins, including 149 at Butler. Only 48 other active NCAA coaches have 400 career victories.
Indiana Is The Dawgs' House: The Bulldogs have posted a 20-7 record against schools from Indiana during the four seasons prior to this one. That mark includes a 6-0 record against Indiana foes in 2009-10 and a 5-2 record last year.
Butler Background: Amanda Raker, a freshman post player who averaged 7.5 points per game in the tourney at Nevada, has the pedigree for success at Butler. Her father, Gary, played two seasons of basketball at BU from 1978-80 after playing two years at Oklahoma. Gary Raker, a 1975 Indiana All-Star, averaged 11.8 points per game over 52 games at Butler.
Up Next: After this Friday's game against Ball State, the Bulldogs will not play for eight days during final exams. Butler will then host fellow Indianapolis schools Marian and IUPUI before the holiday break.