November 20, 2012

Bulldogs Head To California For Thanksgiving

2012-13 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (2-2) at St. Mary's (1-2)
Friday, Nov. 23 - 5 p.m. ET (2 Pacific)
McKeon Pavilion - Moraga, Calif.
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Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Turkey Trip: This weekend's games in California mark the program's annual Thanksgiving trip.  Each year, Butler has traveled to places such as California, Florida, Alaska, New Mexico or Cancun to play over the holiday weekend. This is Butler's third trip to California under Beth Couture, as she brought the Bulldogs here in 2002 (Fresno State) and 2005 (St. Mary's). Butler is 7-14 in games played during Thanksgiving weekend since 2002.

2. New Conference: As college athletics has been rocked by realignment in recent years, Butler got into the act. This spring, President James Danko and Athletic Director Barry Collier announced BU would become an all-sports member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The A-10 also added VCU, which faced Butler in the 2011 NCAA Men's Final Four. There are 16 teams in the conference this season, with Temple and Charlotte set to leave in 2013. Butler's only sports not in the Atlantic 10 are women's golf and football, which aren't sponsored by the conference.

3. Transfers Delivering Early: Daress McClung and Taylor Schippers have been Butler's top two players this season. McClung, a 6-0 forward, came to BU from Cincinnati. She is averaging 18.5 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds while shooting .485 from the floor. She already has two double-doubles this season. Schippers, a 5-8 point guard from Oklahoma State, is leading Butler with 18.8 points per game. Schippers is 24-for-25 at the foul line this season. 

4. 4 Straight 20s: Prior to last year, Butler had won 20 games in each of the past four seasons, the first time the team has achieved that as a Division I program. The Bulldogs went 20-14 in 2010-11 and finished second in the Horizon League. The Bulldogs were 23-10 in 2009-10, the team's most wins since 1998. BU was 20-10 in 2007-08 and followed that with a 20-12 season in 2008-09. Butler is 96-62 during the last five seasons. 

5. Injury Timeout: Butler is essentially playing without three injured starters. Sarah Hamm, a second team All-Horizon League pick last year and BU's leading scorer and rebounder, will not play this season. She suffered an ACL tear in preseason workouts. Hamm, a 6-2 center, averaged 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds last year. Haley Howard, a sophomore forward, has a stress fracture and Becca Bornhorst is out for the year after offseason surgery.

 

Thanksgiving Sweeps: Butler has twice won tourney championships in recent years during Thanksgiving. In 2004, BU won twice at SLU's Billiken Classic. In 2007, Butler went 2-0 at Miami, Fla. 

Butler vs. St. Mary's: Butler has met St. Mary's twice, losing both times to the Gaels. The last meeting came in 2005, when SMC won 69-59. The previous meeting was in 1995.

First-Time Opponents: Butler's game this weekend against Portland State is one of eight first-time opponents for the Bulldogs. BU's first-time opponents this year are: Fairfield, Portland State, Charlotte, St. Joseph's, UMass, VCU, George Washington and Richmond. The majority of the new opponents are a result of BU's move to the A-10. 

No Experience Needed: In a survey done during the offseason, it was determined that Butler is the 16th least-experienced team in the nation. The players on BU's roster average 1.077 years of college experience, tied with Nicholls State for 16th. San Jose State was tagged the country's least experienced team (0.444).

We Need Nametags: Butler has nine freshmen and sophomores on this year's team, and one can say it may be one of the youngest teams in the nation. Beth Couture's squad has seven newcomers, including three transfers. Only four players who enter the season healthy and able to play saw action on last year's team. 

Daress At The '4': Daress McClung has been an immediate impact player. The 6-0 forward has scored at least 16 points in every game this season. She poured in 19 points with 10 rebounds against both Marquette and Fairfield. She scored a career-high 20 points at Ball State. 

Block Party: Daress McClung blocked a career-high six shots against Valparaiso this week. That spearheaded an 11-block effort for BU, the most in a game for the Dawgs since they had 11 stuffs on Nov. 22, 2006 vs. Air Force.

Ball Control: Butler has cut its turnovers in half over the last two games. BU was committing 20.5 turnovers per game after two games, but improved has just 9.5 miscues in the last week. Butler had just nine turnovers against Valpo, which helped the Dawgs to a 20-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Butler In The HL: Butler was consistently the Horizon League's second-best program. The Dawgs were 49-23 in league play over their last four seasons in the HL, finishing second in the standings three times.  

Bench Steps Up: After the team's win over Valparaiso, Beth Couture said that was the best effort of the year from her all-freshmen bench. The reserves were led by the rebounding of Katie Brewer and perimeter defense and playmaking of Lexus Murry. Brewer pulled down eight boards while blocking two shots, while Murry had six assists and no turnovers in 17 minutes.

Becca Out For The Year: Becca Bornhorst, the team's lone senior on the roster, will not play this season but will remain on the roster. The 6-1 forward, who played in 61 career games with 37 starts, had offseason leg surgery and decided not to play. Bornhorst averaged 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season.

Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 163 victories at Butler, sits alone atop BU's all-time women's basketball wins list. In 2011, Couture passed Linda Mason, who coached at BU from 1976-84 and won 124 games. The record-breaking victory came at UIC on March 4, 2011.

Steering The 'Schip': Taylor Schippers, a transfer from Oklahoma State, is a high-volume point guard who can pass and score for the Bulldogs. She is averaging 17.7 points while shooting .436 form thte floor. She has also made 16 of her 17 free throws this season. Schippers, who started 17 games at OSU last year, has also played off the ball at times. Freshman back-up point guard Lexus Murry is playing 11.0 minutes per game. 

Charity Work: Butler is shooting .833 at the foul line, converting 45 of its 54 free throws. Taylor Schippers and Hannah Douglas lead the way, combining for 35-for-36 at the line. Schippers has converted 24 of her 25 FTs and Douglas is 11-for-11. The Bulldogs shot just .688 at the foul line last year, eighth in the Horizon League.

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 is now cancer-free and has participated in several awareness events. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent's Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall. She is also the honorary chairwoman for 2011 St. Vincent Woman 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.

Christmas Present: With two post players (Becca Bornhorst and Sarah Hamm) out for the season, Butler will be getting a big boost after final exams with the addition of Liz Stratman. The 6-2 sophomore transferred to BU from Xavier last year and will be available to play Dec. 16 at Northern Kentucky. Stratman, who was Indianapolis City Player of the Year in high school in 2011,
played in 12 games at XU before leaving. 

Hannah's Big Game: Hannah Douglas had her best game of the season on Monday, totaling 13 points and nine rebounds. She has shown the ability to score in bunches in her young career. In Butler's home finale last season, the sophomore scored 31 points to lead BU to a win over Wright State. She finished 12-for-20 shooting and made 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Her previous career high was 15 points.  

Butler Background: Amanda Raker, a sophomore from Indianapolis, has the pedigree for success at Butler. Her 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. 

Up Next: After taking on host St. Mary's, the Bulldogs will play Portland State Saturday, Nov. 24.