Bulldogs Take Momentum To Valpo This Weekend
2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Need To Stay Hot: Saturday's contest at Valparaiso, like all conference games, is a big one. A victory for BU can lift the Bulldogs over .500 in league play. A big part of winning on the road Saturday will be the team's ability to play well offensively for the third consecutive game. Butler was hot last weekend, shooting .490 during wins over Youngstown State and Cleveland State. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent vs. YSU and nearly matched that with 48 percent shooting vs. CSU. Butler made 14-of-35 (.400) from 3-point range last week.
2. Balanced Scoring: A by-product of Butler's hot shooting last week was a balanced offensive attack. Six different Bulldog players scored in double figures during the two Butler wins. Devin Brierly led four players in double digits with 19 points against YSU. Haley Howard (14), Hannah Douglas (11) and Becca Bornhorst (11) each supplied balanced scoring. In Saturday's win over CSU, Sarah Hamm (14) and Jenna Cobb (11) supported Brierly's 13-point performance.
3. Controlling The Boards: Over the past three games, BU is averaging a +9.0 rebounding margin while out-rebounding its opponent each time. The Bulldogs were +5 at Wright State on New Year's eve and then continued to control the glass at home last week. Butler held a 41-28 rebounding edge vs. Youngstown State and a 37-28 advantage vs. Cleveland State. Four different players grabbed six boards against YSU.
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 15 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 70.1% of the team's total minutes. Freshmen Haley Howard, Hannah Douglas and Amanda Raker have drawn starting assignments in addition to sophomores Jenna Cobb and Sarah Hamm. Only one senior, Devin Brierly, plays significant minutes.
5. Always Home In Indiana: The Bulldogs have posted a 23-7 record against schools from Indiana dating back to 2007. That mark includes a 3-2 record this year and a 5-2 mark last season. BU is 6-2 vs. Valpo during that span.
Butler vs. Valparaiso: The series between Butler and Valparaiso dates back to 1980, with BU leading 20-5. The Bulldogs, who have won six of the last seven, are 6-2 against the Crusaders since Valpo joined the Horizon League in 2007. Beth Couture is 6-4 against Valparaiso.
Last Year vs. Valpo: The Bulldogs beat the Crusaders by double digits twice last season. On Jan. 2, 2011, Butler won 61-49 at Hinkle in both teams' league opener. In last year's season finale, the Dawgs won 58-47 at the ARC.
Guarding The Crusaders: Butler hasn't allowed more than 52 points against Valpo in the last four meetings. The Crusaders are averaging just 47.7 points per game against BU in those four games.
Paint Work: Butler has been winning the battles in the paint recently. The Dawgs have out-scored their last three opponents 84-58 in the paint. That total includes a 32-18 edge vs. YSU and a 30-18 advantage against CSU last Saturday.
Freshman Impact: Three freshmen have started recent games for Butler. Haley Howard, a 5-11 forward, is Butler's leading scorer and foul shooter. She has nine double-digit scoring games this season. Hannah Douglas, a 5-9 lefty guard, is a starter and is the team's leading rebounder. Amanda Raker, a 6-1 post started two games and plays 17.7 minutes per game.
Haley Should Be First: Haley Howard, Butler's leading scorer, was briefly the national leader in free throw percentage. Howard is 36-for-38 at the foul line, good for 94.7 percent. She is two attempts short of qualifying for the NCAA rankings. 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.
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 10.6 points per game. She scored a career-high 22 against Ball State, 20 at IPFW and 19 on Thursday against YSU.
Devin's Improved 3-Point Shooting: After three seasons and 87 career games, Devin Brierly was a .317 career shooter from 3-point range. She has sharpened her shot this year, ranking ninth in the Horizon League with .368 shooting from long range.
New Lineup: Butler used its sixth starting lineup this season the past three games. Post players Amanda Raker and Becca Bornhorst started the previous two games, but Haley Howard was given the start against CSU. Eight different players have started a game this season.
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.
Cobb vs. Cleveland State: Jenna Cobb matched her career high of 11 points last Saturday against Cleveland State. She shot 5-for-7 with two assists and two steals. Her previous 11-point game was also against Cleveland State, on Jan. 13 of last year. The two 11-point games vs. CSU are the only double-digit scoring performances of the Ohio native's Butler career.
More On Howard: Haley Howard is averaging a team-high 10.9 points per game on .455 shooting and has scored in double figures nine times. The Whiteland, Ind., native has tallied at least 11 points in six of the last nine contests and she was named all-tournament at Nevada's Nugget Classic.
Bench Marks: As BU's starting lineup periodically changes, Butler has been able to bring starter-quality players off the bench in most games. Over the last three games, the Bulldogs are out-scoring opponents 82-27 in bench points. As Valparaiso only plays seven players in league play, Butler may have the edge in that area against the Crusaders.
Keep The Lock Down On 'D': The Bulldogs have held eight opponents to worse than 37 percent shooting this season. Six opponents have not been able to score 60 points against the Dawgs. Butler's last three opponents, Wright State, Youngstown State and Cleveland State, have averaged 51.7 points per game on .323 shooting from the floor.
Pressure The Ball: Butler has had success on defense when it pressures the ball and forces turnovers. The Bulldogs have forced 20+ turnovers seven 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.
8 Treys 4 Times: BU tied its season high with eight made 3-pointers last Saturday vs. Cleveland State. It was the fourth time this season the Bulldogs have made eight treys.
Offense In Wins, Losses: Shooting has been a key factor in determining Butler's results this season. BU is shooting .430 and scoring 66.0 points per game in victories. Those numbers dip to .358 shooting and 54.3 points in losses.
Mandy's Arc: Mandy McDivitt is known as Butler's primary long-range shooter off the bench. The sophomore from Connersville, Ind., has made 46 career field goals, 41 of which have been 3-pointers. McDivitt, who plays 21.8 minutes per game, is tied with Haley Howard for second on the team with 16 made 3-point field goals.
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.
Block Party: Sarah Hamm is second in the Horizon League with 1.4 blocks per game. She's had at least one rejection in 10 of the team's 15 games. Hamm has blocked four shots in a game twice this season, with four each at IPFW and against Bradley. The sophomore center owns 21 blocked shots, while the rest of Butler's team has 23 blocks.
Up Next: After Saturday's game at Valparaiso, the Bulldogs will go to Chicago for a pair of games. Both games will be a doubleheader with the men's team. BU will play at UIC Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. ET (4:30 local). The Dawgs will then play at Loyola Saturday, Jan. 21.