Bulldogs Open Chicago Trip At UIC
2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Dawgs In Windy City: When Butler's schedule comes out every year, one of the many things to look forward to is the annual road trip to Chicago. Not only is it a chance to enjoy the world-class city, BU has a successful history against Chicago schools. The Bulldogs have won eight straight games at UIC and Loyola. Beth Couture is 12-7 during her career in the city of Chicago.
2. Middle Of The Pack: This weekend's road swing comes at a time when teams in the Horizon League are starting to play into position. BU is currently one of three teams (with Cleveland State and Youngstown State) standing at 2-3 in league play. Just one-half game better are UIC and Loyola at 3-3. The difference between fourth place and eighth place is just one half of a game.
3. Looking For A Road Win: Butler is 0-7 in true road games this season. However, several of those games were decided in the final minutes. The Bulldogs lost by one possession at Nevada, Indiana State and Wright State. The Bulldogs led in the final 2:00 against both ISU and WSU. In last week's loss at Valparaiso, Butler led for much of the second half before a late 15-3 Valpo run.
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 16 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. Controlling The Boards: Over the past four games, BU is averaging a +5.4 rebounding margin while out-rebounding its opponent three times. The Bulldogs were +5 at Wright State on New Year's Eve and then continued to control the glass at home vs. YSU and CSU. 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.
Butler vs. UIC: Thursday's game in Chicago will be the 46th meeting between UIC and Butler, with BU holding a 27-18 series lead. Butler has won eight of the last nine meetings over the Flames, dating back to 2007. The first meeting between the two schools came in 1984.
Last Year vs. UIC: The Bulldogs beat the Flames twice last season. BU got 27 points from Chloe Hamilton to win 66-61 at UIC last January. Three weeks later, Butler ran up a 48-28 halftime lead and beat UIC 78-57 at Hinkle. Alyssa Pittman scored 23 points in that game.
Paint Work: Butler has been winning the battles in the paint recently. The Dawgs have out-scored their last four opponents 106-74 in the paint for an average of 8.0 points per game. That total includes a 32-18 edge vs. YSU and a 30-18 advantage against CSU.
Freshmen Impact: Butler has asked three freshmen to be significant contributors this season. Haley Howard, a 5-11 forward, is Butler's leading scorer (10.6 ppg) and foul shooter (.949). 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 (4.9 rpg). Amanda Raker, a 6-1 post, has started two games and plays 17.2 minutes per game.
Haley Should Be First: Haley Howard, Butler's leading scorer, was briefly the national leader in free throw percentage. Howard is 37-for-39 at the foul line, good for 94.9 percent. She is currently three made attempts short of qualifying for the NCAA rankings, where she would rank first in the nation. 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.
Mandy's Best Game: Mandy McDivitt buried six 3-pointers at Valparaiso, good for a career-high 18 points. Her previous scoring high was 13, set last year. In all, McDivitt recorded career bests in points (18), field goals (6), attempts (11) and minutes played (32) at Valpo.
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 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 eighth in the Horizon League with .379 shooting from long range.
More On Mandy: Mandy McDivitt, known primarily as a shooter off the bench, has been much more in recent games. Since Horizon League play started five games ago, McDivitt has added 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game in addition to averaging 8.5 points. She had five rebounds and two steals at Valparaiso and swiped four steals vs. Cleveland State.
Mandy's Arc: Mandy McDivitt has made 52 career field goals, 47 of which have been 3-pointers. McDivitt, who plays 22.5 minutes per game, is second on the team with 22 made 3-point field goals.
Locking Down League Opponents: Butler is leading the Horizon League in field goal percentage defense in league games. BU has held its five league foes to .358 shooting, just ahead of Wright State and Detroit for the league lead. In contrast, UIC is among the leaders in shooting percentage during league games. The Flames are shooting a league-best .412 from 3-point range in league contests.
More Defense: The Bulldogs have held eight opponents to worse than 37 percent shooting this season. Seven opponents have not been able to score 60 points against the Dawgs. Butler's last four opponents (Wright State, Youngstown State and Cleveland State) have averaged 53.2 points per game on .341 shooting from the floor.
Hamm In League Play: Sarah Hamm has increased her production in the first five conference games. Hamm is averaging 10.0 points on .545 shooting in league contests. The sophomore center, who averaged 8.8 points in non-league play, is averaging 12.5 points over the last four games. She scored 15 points at Wright State, 14 vs. Cleveland State and 12 at Valparaiso.
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.
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 four games, the Bulldogs are out-scoring opponents 114-39 in bench points. In bench scoring, Butler was +7 vs. Youngstown State, +26 vs. Cleveland State and +18 at Valpo.
Dawgs Add Stratman: Liz Stratman, a 6-3 post player from Xavier, has enrolled at Butler as a transfer. The Indianapolis native was a four-year starter for high school girls powerhouse Heritage Christian, helping the team win two state championships. Stratman played 12 games at Xavier, averaging 3.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
8 Treys 5 Times: BU can't seem to find that ninth 3-pointer in a game. The Bulldogs have tied their season high with eight made 3-pointers in each of the past two games. Butler's 8-for-26 long-range shooting performance was the fifth time this season the Bulldogs have made eight treys in a game.
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 .360 shooting and 54.2 points in losses.
Up Next: After Thursday's game at UIC, Butler will stay in its hotel and play at Loyola Saturday, Jan. 21. Saturday's tip time at the Gentile Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. Chicago time).