2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Can Get Back To .500: Saturday's game is a golden opportunity for Butler to gain position in the Horizon League race. A victory over Cleveland State would make BU .500 in league play, followed by a road game at last-place Valparaiso. By Saturday afternoon, Butler could be one of as many as five league teams with two conference losses.
2. Attacking The Basket: A big part of Butler's success on Thursday night vs. YSU was its ability to attack the basket on offense. The Bulldogs were aggressive, resulting in a season-high 27 free throw attempts. The Bulldogs also had a 32-18 advantage in points in the paint. Thursday's offensive attack was unlike recent games, when Butler often settled on taking 3-pointers. Butler averaged 24.0 attempts from beyond the arc over the previous three games.
3. Balanced Scoring: Four Bulldog players scored 11 points or more Thursday night against Youngstown State, resulting in a balanced offensive attack that was a season-best for Butler. Devin Brierly led BU with 19 points against YSU, followed by Haley Howard with 14 and Hannah Douglas and Becca Bornhorst with 11 apiece. Additionally, Sarah Hamm had nine points in the first half.
4. 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 14 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 70.3% of the team's total minutes. Freshmen Haley Howard and Hannah Douglas have been starting in addition to sophomores Jenna Cobb and Sarah Hamm. Only one senior, Devin Brierly, plays significant minutes.
5. Haley 2nd In The Nation: Haley Howard, Butler's leading scorer, is currently the nationally leader in free throw percentage. Howard is 36-for-38 at the foul line, good for 94.7 percent. She is slightly ahead of Richmond's Abby Oliver for the national lead. Howard, a forward from Whiteland, Ind., has gone 4-for-4 at the line on five different occasions. She made the first 23 free throws of her college career before missing against Marian on Dec. 17.
Butler vs. Cleveland State: The series between Butler and Cleveland State dates back to 1995 when CSU joined the MCC. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 24-13. BU beat CSU twice last season and the Vikings defeated the Bulldogs twice the year before. Beth Couture is 15-7 against Cleveland State.
BU-CSU In Tourney Play: Butler and Cleveland State have played high-profile games in recent years. In 2010, the two teams met in the league tournament championship, with CSU winning 66-57. Last year, Butler defeated Cleveland State 68-54 in the league semifinal.
Beating YSU Again: With Thursday's win, the Bulldogs have won 12 straight games (10 by double figures) against the Penguins dating back to 2006. Beth Couture is 18-3 against YSU.
Horizon At Home: Butler is 49-28 in home regular season Horizon League games under Beth Couture. That includes a 7-2 record against Cleveland State.
Freshman Impact: Three freshmen have started recent games for Butler. Haley Howard, a 5-11 forward, is Butler's leading scorer and foul shooter. Hannah Douglas, a 5-9 lefty guard, is a starter and is the team's leading rebounder. Amanda Raker, a 6-1 post, has started the last two games.
Dawgs In 2011: Butler finished 18-17 in the 2011 calendar year, including a 14-10 mark against league opponents. Butler finished 22-12 in the 2010 year.
Devin's Increased Production: Devin Brierly, the only senior playing significant minutes this season, entered this season averaging 4.4 points per game for her career. She has been asked to score more this year, averaging 10.4 points per game. She scored a career-high 22 against Ball State, 20 at IPFW and 19 on Thursday against YSU.
9 Treys For Devin: Devin Brierly led Butler with 15 points on a career-high five 3-pointers at Detroit last Thursday night. Seven days later, she hit four 3-pointers to lead BU to a win over Youngstown State.
New Lineup: Butler has used its fifth starting lineup this season the past two games. Post players Amanda Raker and Becca Bornhorst have been starting, and the result has been a win over YSU and a 22-16 halftime lead at Wright State last Saturday.
Cobb vs. Cleveland State: Jenna Cobb scored her career high of 11 points against Cleveland State last year. It is the only double-digit scoring performance of the Ohio native's Butler career.
More On Howard: Haley Howard is averaging a team-high 11.7 points per game on .467 shooting and has scored in double figures nine times. The Whiteland, Ind., native has tallied at least 11 points in six of the last eight contests. Her 34-of-36 free throw shooting (.947) leads all of NCAA Division I. She was named all-tournament at Nevada's Nugget Classic.
Keep The Lock Down On 'D': The Bulldogs have held seven opponents to worse than 37 percent shooting this season. Five opponents have not been able to score 60 points against the Dawgs. Butler's last two opponents, Wright State and Youngstown State, combined to shoot 31.6 percent against BU's defensive pressure.
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 10.1 steals per game.
Board Work: Butler is 4-1 when grabbing more rebounds than its opponent. BU's win over IUPUI on Dec. 21 was the first time this year BU won when being out-rebounded. Conversely, the Bulldogs had a 46-41 rebounding edge in their 48-47 loss at Wright State. Butler is 1-8 when grabbing fewer rebounds than its opponent.
Group Boarding: Butler owned a 41-28 rebounding advantage against Youngstown State on Thursday night, including 16 offensive rebounds. The rebounding effort was balanced, with four different players each leading the Bulldogs with six rebounds.
Offense In Wins, Losses: Shooting has been a key factor in determining Butler's results this season. BU is shooting .421 and scoring 65.8 points per game in victories. Those numbers dip to .358 shooting and 54.3 points in losses. CLICK HERE to see more statistics splits.
BU vs. Ohio Opponents: Butler is 23-14 against schools from Ohio since the 2007-08. That includes a 6-5 record against Saturday's opponent, Cleveland State. Butler's last loss to Cleveland State at Hinkle Fieldhouse came in 2008.
Up Next: After Saturday's game vs. CSU, the Bulldogs will travel to Valparaiso for a Saturday, Jan. 14 game. It's BU's only contest next week. Butler's next home game is Thursday, Jan. 26 vs. Green Bay.