December 14, 2012

Bulldogs Start Holiday Break At NKU

2012-13 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (4-5) at Northern Kentucky (2-5)
Sunday, Dec. 16 - 2 p.m. ET
Highland Heights, Ky. - Bank of Kentucky Center
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The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Christmas Present: Sunday's game at NKU will be the first time Butler will have the services of sophomore Liz Stratman. The 6-2 transfer from Xavier will be eligible to play after transferring at semester last year. Stratman, who was Indianapolis City Player of the Year in high school in 2011 out of Heritage Christian School, played in 12 games at XU before transferring to Butler. 

2. Charity Work: Butler is converting 76.8 percent of its free throw attempts, the highest mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Bulldogs currently rank 19th in the nation in free throw percentage as well. Butler has shot at least 75 percent at the foul line in seven of this season's games,  highlighted by a 14-for-15 (.933) effort vs. Valparaiso. Individually, BU is led at the charity stripe by Taylor Schippers (.860) and Hannah Douglas (.826).

3. Big Ten Win: Butler's 59-56 win over Indiana last Sunday was BU's first win over a Big Ten opponent for Beth Couture and the first since 1998. That season, BU defeated Michigan State and Illinois. Daress McClung led the Bulldogs with 21 points and 12 boards against the Hoosiers. BU led by 22 at one point and had a 40-25 lead before hanging on in the final minute. 

4. Bluegrass Victory: A victory on Sunday would be Beth Couture's first in the state of Kentucky. The Bulldogs have made two trips to University Kentucky, losing to UK in 2004 and 2009. Sunday's game is Butler's first against an opponent from the Bluegrass State since BU opened the 2009-10 season in Lexington.

5. Transfers Delivering Early: Daress McClung and Taylor Schippers have been Butler's top two players this season. Schippers, a 5-8 point guard from Oklahoma State, is leading Butler with 17.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. Schippers has three games with 20+ points and has scored in double figures every game this season. McClung, a 6-0 forward, came to BU from Cincinnati. She is averaging 16.6 points and a team-best 8.9 rebounds and leading the team in blocks. She has four double-doubles this season. 

 

Nice To Meet You: The Bulldogs and Norse last met in 1984, the year Beth Couture was a senior at Erskine College. NKU won that game 91-56. BU finsished 2-20 that season, its last under coach Linda Mason.

More On McClung: Daress McClung had 17 points at halftime against Indiana and finished with a career high 21 points on 8-for-23 shooting. McClung poured in 19 points with 10 rebounds against both Marquette and Fairfield and had 18 points and 10 rebounds against Eastern Michigan. She also scored a career-high 20 points at Ball State.

Schippers Named All-Tourney: Taylor Schippers was picked for the all-tourney team at St. Mary's after Thanksgiving. The 5-8 guard averaged 21.5 points and 3.0 assists per game during the two games in California. Her weekend included a career-high 27-point effort against St. Mary's, then she scored 16 vs. Portland State. 

Hannah Consistent: Hannah Douglas has been a consistent scorer. Before scoring just six against Indiana, Douglas had been between 11 and 13 points for four straight games. Her emergence slashing to the basket gives BU a dependable perimeter scorer.

No Experience Needed: In a survey done during the offseason, Butler was listed as 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.

9 New Faces: Beth Couture will match wits this season against nine coaches in their first year at a new school. NKU's Dawn Plitzuweit is one of six non-conference opposing coaches on the list. The other schools with new coaches are Ball State, Valpo, Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green and Indiana. In conference play, Butler will meet up against first-year coaches at VCU, Saint Louis and George Washington. 

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 who started in Butler's exhibition game, has a stress fracture and senior Becca Bornhorst is out for the year after offseason surgery.

Steering The 'Schip': Taylor Schippers is Butler's starting point guard and leading scorer. She has scored in double figures in every game, including a career-best 27 points at St. Mary's. Schippers ranks third in the A-10 with 17.3 points per game. She is fifth in the conference in FT shooting (.875) and sixth in minutes (34.6)

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 five seasons before this year.

Block Party: The Bulldogs are second in the A-10 in blocked shots with 5.2 swats per game. BU narrowly trails George Washington in that category (5.3). The Buldogs rejected 11 shots against Valparaiso and eight apiece against Portland State and Bowling Green. Nationally, BU ranks 34th in the country in blocks. Daress McClung is second in the conference iwth 2.1 blocks per game. 

Ball Control: Butler commits just 15.0 turnovers per game, the lowest figure in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 38th-best in the nation. During a three-game stretch in November, Butler averaged just 10.3 turnovers per game. BU had nine turnovers against Fairfield, 10 agianst Valparaiso and 12 at St. Mary's. Only once has Butler surpassed 20+ turnovers (at Ball State).

Freshman Taking Care Of It: Lexus Murry, Butler's point guard off the bench, has 18 assists against 14 turnovers this season. That 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is solid for a freshman. She had six assists and no turnovers against Valparaiso and four assist with no miscues vs. Eastern Michigan.

Raker's Best: Amanda Raker, who started Butler's first nine games, has been playing her best basketball recently. She tied her career bests in points (12) and rebounds (9) against Indiana. She had 10 of those points in the first half as BU built a 40-25 lead. Raker also had 12 points against Portland State. 

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. 

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 are able to play saw action on last year's team.

Butler Background: Amanda Raker 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.

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 164 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.

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 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.

Up Next: Next week is final exams at Butler University. BU will be in action next weekend at Northern Kentucky.