2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. WBCA Pink Zone Game: Saturday's contest is a special one for the Butler basketball program. It is the team's WBCA Pink Zone game for breast cancer awareness. Proceeds of the game will go to the St. Vincent's Women of Hope. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and the first 1,000 fans will receive a 'Real Dawgs Wear Pink' button. The Bulldogs will also be wearing special pink Nike uniforms.
2. 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.
3. Standings Update: At 6-5 in the standings, Butler is making a push toward a top four seed and a home game in the league tournament. If the regular season ended today, BU would be the No. 5 seed in the league tournament and would play at UIC. The top four teams in the seeding play a quarterfinal home game Wednesday, March 7. Teams seeded 7-10 play Monday, March 5.
4. Offensive Behavior: For a team that has struggled scoring for most of the season, Butler has put together three straight good offensive performances. Last week at YSU, BU hit 12 3-pointers and shot 45 percent from the floor. Butler had season highs in points (76), field goal percentage (.510) and field goals made (26) against UWM and then followed that with 68 points on .431 shooting at CSU.
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 22 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 69.9% 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. Valpo: Saturday's game will be the 27th meeting between the two private Indiana universities. BU leads the all-time series 20-6 and has won six of eight meetings since Valpo joined the Horizon League in 2007-08. Beth Couture is 6-5 against the Crusaders.
Previous Meeting: Mandy McDivitt hit six 3-pointers but a late offensive rebound on a free throw was a key play for Valparaiso to beat Butler 58-53. Ashley Varner had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Crusaders, who trailed by as much as 37-30 in the second half.
More Hamm Please: Sarah Hamm has emerged as Butler's offensive go-to player. The 6-2 sophomore scored a career-high 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting against Milwaukee, a week after scoring 23 points at UIC on Jan. 19. She added a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double last Thursday at Cleveland State. She is averaging 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game over Butler's last three games. She has 11 games this season with at least 12 points.
Jenna At The '1': Jenna Cobb, a sophomore guard, is known for her tenacity and energy as a player. In January, Beth Couture moved her to the point position and the move has definitely worked. Cobb scored a career-high 21 points at Cleveland State last Thursday. The sophomore Ohio native is averaging 12.4 points and 4.8 assists over the last five games.
Sarah's Career Game: Sarah Hamm finished 11-for-19 shooting and made all six of her foul shots to finish with 30 points against UWM on Jan. 28. Hamm, who pulled in 11 defensive boards and blocked four shots in the game, had 18 points at halftime and also made two 3-pointers.
Hamm Shooting The 3: Sarah Hamm, a 6-2 center, has emerged as one of Butler's best long-range shooters. Hamm is shooting 14-for-29 (.483) from 3-point range this season. Currently, she ranks first in the league with .556 shooting from beyond the arc. She was 5-for-5 during the two games in Chicago, making all three of her treys at Loyola on Jan. 21.
Mandy Makes 3s: Until last week, Mandy McDivitt's best game as a Bulldog came at Valparaiso, when she shot 6-for-10 from beyond the arc for 18 points. She matched that output last Saturday at Youngstown State, hitting 6 of her 13 treys. McDivitt's final shot provided the winning points with 2.3 seconds left.
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 has three 20-point games this season.Brierly has scored 22 points against Youngstown State and Ball State and 20 at IPFW. She leads the team in assists (59) and 3-pointers made (34).
Devin's Percentage Quirk: Oddly, after 109 career games, Devin Brierly owns matching career field goal and 3-point shooting percentages. Brierly is a career .333 shooter and has also made 33.3 percent of her 300 career 3-point attempts.
Going To Sarah Late: Long-range shooting was the reason Butler won 65-63 at Youngstown State last weekend. But McDivitt's clutch trey wouldn't have been possible if not for three big buckets by Sarah Hamm down the stretch. Hamm scored six points on three straight possessions over a 90-second span and gave Butler a 62-61 lead with 57 seconds remaining in the game. After YSU split a pair of free throws, McDivitt buried the deep game-winning 3-pointer.
Doubling Up: After 19 games, no player on Butler had posted a double-double this year. Against Milwaukee on Jan. 28, both Sarah Hamm and Becca Bornhorst turned in a double-double. Hamm had 30 points and 11 rebounds and Bornhorst had 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first time since March 19, 2009 in the WNIT vs. Duquesne (Lade Akande and Brittany Bowen). Hamm then added another double-double at Cleveland State just five days later.
Near Triple-Double: Becca Bornhorst posted her first career double-double against UWM on Jan. 28, and she nearly made it a triple-double. In addition to 10 points and 10 rebounds, Bornhorst dished eight assists on the day. She also hit two 3-pointers in the first half that set the tone for Butler's victory.
A Dozen Treys: Butler buried 12 shots from beyond the arc last Saturday, a season high for the team. BU finished 12-for-27 against YSU, with Mandy McDivitt and Devin Brierly combining to shoot 9-for-18. It was the most 3-pointers for Butler since Feb. 17 of last season when the Dawgs made 12 treys against UIC at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
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.
Haley Breaking Skid: Haley Howard, who was leading Butler in scoring after the season's first 16 games, had her best game in recent weeks with eight quality minutes off the bench at YSU last weekend. Howard had five points and five rebounds and made a key bucket late in the first half to break a month-long skid. Her 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the first half was her trey since Dec. 17 vs. Marian, a streak of 21 attempts.
Raker Off The Bench: In this week's Beth Couture Show, the Butler head coach said Amanda Raker played her best weekend of the year last week. With Sarah Hamm and Becca Bornhorst in foul trouble at Cleveland State, Raker played 27 minutes and contributed six points, three rebounds and three assists. It was her highest scoring game since tallying eight points at Detroit back on Dec. 29. She then played 20 solid minutes at 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.
Up Next: The Bulldogs continue their three-game homestand next week against the league's two Chicago schools. Loyola visits Hinkle Fieldhouse Thursday, Feb. 16 and UIC comes to BU two days later.