WHITE OUT: Bulldogs Host Milwaukee Saturday
2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Renewing A Rivalry: When Beth Couture came to Butler in 2002, Milwaukee was near the top of the Horizon League. In 2004, Butler scored a program-changing 67-61 overtime win over UWM at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Since that time, Butler is 9-7 against the Panthers.
2. Getting Defensive: The second half of Butler's loss to Green Bay on Thursday was as good a defensive effort as BU has had all season. Butler held the Phoenix to 18 points and 28 percent shooting in the second half. Green Bay's total of 60 points was the team's lowest scoring output of the season.
3. Standings Update: A win Saturday over Milwaukee would lift Butler to 4-5 in Horizon League play and keep the Bulldogs in the thick of the race. The Dawgs are currently in a three-way tie for sixth place with Cleveland State and Youngstown State. BU is one game behind Loyola for fifth. If the regular season ended today, Butler would be the No. 6 seed.
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 19 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. Milwaukee: Saturday's contest will be the 38th meeting between the two schools, with UWM holding a 19-18 edge in the series. The Bulldogs have won three of the last four, including a sweep in 2009-10. Beth Couture is 9-10 against the Panthers.
Last Year vs. UWM: The two teams split last season, with the home team winning each time. Devin Brierly scored 19 points to help BU win 72-64 at Hinkle a year ago. Three weeks later, UWM won 73-66 over Butler in Milwaukee.
2 Young Teams: Butler and Milwaukee could both be categorized as young teams learning and improving. Among BU's top eight leaders in minutes played, six are freshmen and sophomores. Four of Milwaukee's top five minutes leaders are also freshmen and sophomores.
More Hamm Please: Sarah Hamm has been Butler's best player of the last five games. Hamm is averaging 14.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks during that span while shooting .471. In addition to scoring 41 points in Chicago last weekend, she tallied 12 points at Valparaiso and 14 against Cleveland State.
Cobb On Boards: Jenna Cobb, a sophomore guard, is known for her tenacity and energy as a player. Cobb is the only BU player this season to grab 10 rebounds in a game, and she's done it twice. She hauled in 10 boards each at Indiana State and against Green Bay.
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 (9.0 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 averaging 6.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. 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. Her percentage would rank first in the nation if she had enough attempts. 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.
More On GB Game: Green Bay limited Butler to offensive season lows in points (36), field goal percentage (.186), field goals (8) and 3-pointers made (3). BU also committed 30 turnovers. Butler's 36 points was the team's lowest in a game since vs. Green Bay in 2003, Beth Couture's first season at BU.
Positive Green Bay Note: Not much went right for Butler Thursday night vs. Green Bay, but the Dawgs did get to the foul line. The Bulldogs attempted a season-high 28 free throws against the Phoenix. BU finished 17-for-28 on the night. Butler's previous season high in FT attempts was 27 against Youngstown State.
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. She followed that effort with 10 rebounds and six steals on Thursday against Green Bay. Cobb is averaging 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals over the last two games.
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 10.5 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 (49) and 3-pointers made (30) and 3-point percentage (.361).
Devin's Improved 3-Point Shooting: After three seasons and 87 career games, Devin Brierly entered the 2011-12 season as a .317 career shooter from 3-point range. She has sharpened her shot this year, ranking ninth in the Horizon League with .361 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 54 career field goals, 49 of which have been 3-pointers. McDivitt, who plays 23.5 minutes per game, is second on the team with 24 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 conference games. Hamm is averaging 12.2 points on .493 shooting in league contests. The sophomore center, who averaged 8.8 points in non-league play, scored a career-best 23 points at UIC. She also scored 18 points at Loyola, 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-23 (.478) 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 .583 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 five times this season. Butler's 8-for-26 long-range shooting performance at Valparaiso on Jan. 14 was the fifth time this season the Bulldogs have made eight treys in a game.
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: While the NFL's Super Bowl rolls into Indianapolis, Butler will be rolling out to northeast Ohio. BU will be at Cleveland State Thursday, Feb. 2 and Youngstown State two days later.