2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Back In The Right Direction: As conference play begins, the Bulldogs are playing their best basketball of the season. BU has now won three straight games since suffering a six-game losing streak earlier this year. Following a 49-46 loss at Indiana State, the Dawgs have beaten Ball State, Marian and IUPUI to get back on the winning track. All three of those victories were at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
2. Conference Openers: Beth Couture has done a good job getting Butler ready for the start of league play. The Bulldogs are 7-2 in league openers under Couture. BU is 15-10 all-time in conference openers since the MCC/Horizon League started playing women's basketball. Butler's last loss in a league opener was a 77-69 setback at Valparaiso in 2008.
3. 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 11 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 70.7% of the team's total minutes. Freshmen Haley Howard and Hannah Douglas have been starting in addition to sophomores Jenna Cobb and Sarah Hamm. Only one senior, Devin Brierly, plays significant minutes.
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. 2nd In The Nation: Haley Howard, Butler's leading scorer, is currently second in the nation in free throw percentage. Howard is 29-for-30 at the foul line, good for 96.7 percent. Her .967 mark is tops in the Horizon League. Howard, a forward from Whiteland, Ind., made the first 23 free throws of her college career before missing against Marian.
Butler vs. Detroit: Butler has owned Detroit in recent years, winning 12 of the last 13 meetings. Of those 12 wins, nine have come by a double-digit margin. However, Detroit leads the all-time series 32-27. Beth Couture is 15-5 against Detroit.
Last Year vs. UDM: The Bulldogs and Titans met three times last season, with BU beating Detroit twice. Butler won 72-66 at Calihan last season and routed Detroit in the HL quarterfinal 64-38 at Hinkle. Detroit did manage a 55-51 win at Hinkle last February.
Freshman Impact: Two freshmen are starting and contributing for Butler. Haley Howard, a 5-11 forward, is Butler's leading scorer and shooter. Hannah Douglas, a 5-9 lefty guard, is a starter and among the team's leading rebounders.
Devin's Increased Production: Devin Brierly, the only senior playing significant minutes this season, has been more aggressive on offense. The 5-9 senior guard entered this season averaging 4.4 points per game for her career, but is currently scoring 9.7 points per game this season. She scored 20 points at IPFW, 18 vs. Bradley and a career-high 22 against Ball State.
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).
More On Howard: Haley Howard is averaging a team-high 12.5 points per game on .484 shooting. The Whiteland, Ind., native has eight double-digit scoring performances and has tallied at least 11 points in each of the last five games. Her .967 free throw shooting is second in the country. She has gone 4-for-4 at the foul line four times this season.
Locking Down On 'D': Butler has held its last four opponents to an average of 45.2 points per game last week while also forcing 21 turnovers per game. The Dawgs held Indiana State, Ball State, Marian and IUPUI to 50 points or less.
Board Work: Butler is 3-0 when grabbing more rebounds than its opponent. Last week's win over IUPUI was the first time this year BU won when being out-rebounded. IUPUI had a 39-36 edge in rebounding in its loss at Butler.
McDivitt Back Strong: After missing two games with a concussion, Mandy McDivitt had one of her best games of the year against Marian back on Dec. 17. She scored 11 points and had a career-high three steals. It was her second double-digit scoring game of the year. She also had 11 points vs. UNLV.
Guard The Arc: In addition to three treys, Mandy McDivitt also had a rare 2-point field goal against Marian. Of her 39 career field goals, 36 have been 3-pointers.
Home Sweet Hinkle: Butler's non-league record is a bit deceiving when you consider that seven of the team's first eight games were on the road. The Dawgs recovered in December, coming back to Hinkle and winning three straight before Christmas. BU is 3-1 at home this season and 26-7 at Hinkle over the past three seasons.
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.
Butler In The NCAA Rankings: Butler appears prominently three times in the latest NCAA rankings. The Bulldogs are 42nd nationally in free throw percentage (.744), 75th in steals per game (11.1) and 98th in turnover margin (+2.5). Butler is second in the HL in each of those three categories.
Bombs Away: Butler has attempted a season-high amount of 3-pointers in each of the last two games. The Bulldogs have fired 23 treys against both Marian and IUPUI. Butler averages 18.4 attempts from 3-point range.
Pressure The Ball: Butler has had success on defense when it pressures the ball and forces turnovers. The Bulldogs have forced 20+ turnovers six times this season. Butler forced 24 Marian turnovers on Dec. 17, and it took the ball away 27 times against Ball State and 24 times against Bradley. The Dawgs are second in the Horizon League with 11.1 steals per game.
Block Party: Sarah Hamm is second in the Horizon League and ranks 72nd in the nation with 1.6 blocks per game. She's had at least one rejection in eight of the team's 11 games. Hamm has blocked four shots in a game twice this season, with four each at IPFW and against Bradley. The sophomore center owns 18 blocked shots, while the rest of Butler's team has 22 blocks.
Bench Posts: Post players off the bench have made a difference in Butler's recent games. Amanda Raker and Becca Bornhorst were both productive in Butler's win over IUPUI, with each player scoring six points and making two steals. Bornhorst, who missed time early in the year with injuries, added six rebounds. Raker has scored six points on 3-for-6 shooting in each of the last two games.
Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 152 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 409 career wins, including 151 at Butler. Only 48 other active NCAA coaches have 400 career victories.
Indiana Is The Dawgs' House: The Bulldogs have posted a 23-7 record against schools from Indiana during the last five seasons. 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 the Detroit/Wright State trip, the Bulldogs will host Youngstown State Thursday, Jan. 5 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.