2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Hosting A Ranked Team: Green Bay, tied for 9th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, is the highest-ranked team to ever come to play women's basketball in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Thursday's game at Butler is the 21st time in school history BU has played a ranked team. The Dawgs have beaten a ranked opponent twice, with the last win coming in 1998 against Oregon at a Kansas tournament. Butler is 0-3 against Green Bay when the Phoenix has been ranked.
2. Sarah Went 'Hamm': Sarah Hamm had her best two games in a Butler uniform last weekend in Chicago. The 6-2 sophomore scored a career-high 23 points last Thursday at UIC. Hamm shot 9-for-16 from the floor and made two 3-pointers against the Flames. It was her first 20-point game in college and the highest scoring game for a BU player this season. Hamm followed that with an 18-point, 8-rebound effort at Loyola two days later. Hamm shot 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. For the week, she averaged 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
3. Keeping Pace: With a 3-4 Horizon League record, last Saturday's win at Loyola proved to keep Butler in the thick of the Horizon League pack. The Dawgs are 1.5 games behind UIC for fourth place. If the regular season ended today, Butler would be the No. 6 seed in the Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship.
4. February 11 - Pink Zone Game: Butler's contest vs. Valparaiso will be the team's Pink Zone game, where the Bulldogs will join the fight against breast cancer. Beth Couture, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, is a survivor and has served as honorary chairwoman for St. Vincent's Women of Hope.
5. 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 18 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 70% 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 and one junior play significant minutes.
Butler vs. Green Bay: Thursday's game will be the 45th meeting between the two schools. Green Bay is 37-7 against Butler. BU's last win against GB was on Jan. 9, 1999 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Last Year vs. GB: Last year, Green Bay came to Butler when both teams were unbeaten in league play. Butler trailed 35-22 at the half but lost 66-62. Chloe Hamilton shot 11-for-11 from the floor for 26 points. Green Bay would later beat Butler twice at the Kress Center, including in the league championship final.
Title Rematch: Green Bay edged Butler in last year's Horizon League tourney final 74-63. Brittany Bowen scored 34 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Adrian Ritchie led GB with 18 points.
More Hamm Please: Sarah Hamm has been Butler's best player of the last four games. Hamm is averaging 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks during that span while shooting .500. In addition to scoring 41 points in Chicago last weekend, she tallied 12 points at Valparaiso and 14 against Cleveland State.
Paint Work: Butler has been winning the battles in the paint recently. The Dawgs have out-scored their last six opponents by an average of 4.7 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 third on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg) and is the leading 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 (4.7 rpg). Amanda Raker, a 6-1 post, has started two games and plays 16.7 minutes per game.
Haley Should Be First: Haley Howard, Butler's leading scorer, was briefly the national leader in free throw percentage. Howard is 37-for-39 at the foul line, good for 94.9 percent. She is currently seven made attempts short of qualifying for the NCAA rankings, where she would rank first in the nation. Howard, a forward from Whiteland, Ind., made the first 23 free throws of her college career before missing against Marian on Dec. 17.
Comeback Kids: Butler, which trailed at Loyola last weekend by 17, headed into the halftime locker room in Chicago down 31-18. The Dawgs trailed 47-32 at the 12-minute media timeout before staging a dramatic comeback in the final minutes. BU scored 42 points in the second half of its 60-57 win at Loyola.
Flame Damage: Last week, UIC shot .537 and made 10-for-17 from beyond the arc to beat BU 77-42. UIC's scoring and shooting totals were the most for a BU opponent this season. The 29 points scored by Shameia Green was the individual high for an opposing player.
Took Care Of The Ball: Despite the hard loss at UIC last Thursday, Butler committed just 11 turnovers in the game. That's the lowest total of BU miscues this year.
Calling For Backup: Butler will have a lot of help next season when it adds transfer post players Darress McClung and Liz Stratman. McClung, a 6-0 forward from Indianapolis, has practiced with the team this season and will be eligible next fall. She played two seasons at Cincinnati before coming to Butler. Stratman, a 6-3 freshman from New Palestine, Ind., was a four-year starter for high school girl's powerhouse Heritage Christian, where she won two state championships. Stratman played 12 games at Xavier, averaging 3.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Jenna's All-Around Play: Jenna Cobb, who Beth Couture moved to the point guard position last week, had one of her finest all-around games last Saturday at Loyola. The sophomore guard totaled nine points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Her lay-up with 5:16 left in the game cut Loyola's lead, once 17 points, down to 53-51.
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 a team-high 10.6 points per game. She scored a career-high 22 against Ball State, 20 at IPFW and 19 against YSU. She also leads the team in assists (47) and 3-pointers made (29) and 3-point percentage (.367).
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 .367 shooting from long range.
Mandy's Best Game: Mandy McDivitt buried six 3-pointers at Valparaiso on Jan. 14, 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.
Mandy's Arc: Mandy McDivitt has made 53 career field goals, 48 of which have been 3-pointers. McDivitt, who plays 23.0 minutes per game, is second on the team with 23 made 3-point field goals.
Playing Good 'D': The Bulldogs have held eight opponents to worse than 37 percent shooting this season. Eight teams have not been able to score 60 points against the Dawgs. In wins against Harvard and Loyola this season, BU's defense has successfully preserved a win with a late stop. The Dawgs led 69-68 and got a steal on the final possession to beat Harvard back in November. At Loyola, Butler forced a tough, low-percentage 3-pointer as time expired to seal a victory.
Hamm In League Play: Sarah Hamm has increased her production in the first six conference games. Hamm is averaging 12.2 points on .551 shooting in league contests. The sophomore center, who averaged 8.8 points in non-league play, is averaging 14.6 points over the last five games. In addition to her 23-point output Thursday at UIC, she scored 15 points at Wright State, 14 vs. Cleveland State and 12 at Valparaiso.
Hamm Shooting The 3: Sarah Hamm, a 6-2 center, has emerged as one of Butler's best long-range shooters. Hamm is shooting 11-for-22 (.500) from 3-point range this season. She was 5-for-5 from long range last week, making all three of her treys at Loyola. In conference play, Sarah Hamm is shooting .636 from 3-point range.
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 at Valparaiso last Saturday was the fifth time this season the Bulldogs have made eight treys in a game.
WHITE OUT: Saturday's game vs. Milwaukee will be a WHITE OUT in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Fans are encouraged to wear white or they can arrive early to receive a free white t-shirt.
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.
Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 155 victories at Butler, sits 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.
Butler Background: Amanda Raker and Liz Stratman, who will be sophomores next season, have the pedigree for success at Butler. Raker's 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. Stratman's father played offensive line for Butler football for two seasons.
Up Next: After Thursday's game against No. 9 Green Bay, the Dawgs will host Milwaukee Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m.