The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Hot Streak: With a young team that saw three key rotation players go down with injuries before the season, Butler got off to a slow start in November. The Bulldogs have stayed together to win nine of their last 11 games. BU is currently 5-1 in January after posting a 4-2 mark in December. One reason has been all of the new players meshing together better, but another reason has been the addition of 6-2 transfer Liz Stratman. The sophomore center averages 12.3 points and BU is 8-2 with her in the lineup.
2. New Kids Battle: Sunday's game will pit the Atlantic 10 Conference's two newest members against each other. Both Butler and VCU left their respective conferences to join the A-10 this past spring. BU made the move from the Horizon League to the A-10 on May 2, while VCU left the CAA on May 15.
3. 'Do-It-All' Daress: Daress McClung, BU's leading scorer and rebounder, has filled the stat sheet almost on a nightly basis. The 6-0 junior ranks third in the A-10 in points (16.2) and fourth in rebounds (9.7) while also leading the conference in blocks (2.9). McClung averages 2.5 steals per game, good for fourth in the A-10, and she appears among the league leaders in field goal and free throw percentage. She owns seven outings with 4+ blocks and five games with 4+ steals.
4. Block Party: The Bulldogs are leading the A-10 and currently rank second in the country in blocked shots with 6.7 swats per game. Nine times this season the Bulldogs have rejected at least eight shots in a game. BU swatted a season-best 12 shots against Illinois State and also had 11 blocks vs. Valparaiso and La Salle. In addition to Daress McClung leading the conference in blocks (2.9), Liz Stratman averages 3.0 swats per game and is on pace to be ranked nationally when she has played in enough games. Both Stratman and McClung rejected four shots at UMass.
5. Balanced Attack: Butler has had four primary scoring options emerge this season, two in the post and two on the perimeter. Taylor Schippers and Hannah Douglas are BU's outside scoring threats. Schippers averages 14.6 points and leads Butler in 3-pointers made. Douglas, a 9.4-point scorer, is known for driving to the basket and her mid-range game. Daress McClung (team-leading 16.2 points) can shoot, score in the post and get putbacks. Liz Stratman scores 12.4 points a game on the block and scoring in transition.
Butler vs. VCU: The Bulldogs and Rams are meeting for the first time ever in women's basketball. The two schools famously met in the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in 2011, with BU taking down VCU 70-62 at Reliant Stadium.
Player of the Week Twice: Daress McClung has been picked as Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week twice this season. Her first honor came Dec. 17 after she had 15 points and 13 rebounds in a win at Northern Kentucky. The 6-0 forward picked up another notice on Jan. 7 after posting 26.5 points and 15.0 rebounds in BU's wins at Cleveland State and UIC. She posted 22 points and 18 rebounds at CSU then totaled 31 points and 12 rebounds to lead BU to an 84-61 win in Chicago.
Scoring Jump: Taylor Schippers poured in 19 points at UMass, her highest scoring total since she scored 27 against St. Mary's back in November. She scored in double figures in 14 of the season's first 15 games and 16 of 19 overall.
Doubling Up: Daress McClung owns eight of BU's 10 double-doubles. She shook early foul trouble to post 20 points and 10 boards at UMass, her first double-double since her outburst at UIC.
Double-Double Duos: Twice this season BU has had two players with a double-double in the same game. Daress McClung (31 pts, 12 rebs) and Taylor Schippers (10 pts, 10 asts) posted double-doubles at UIC and McClung (20-10) and Liz Stratman (14-10) did at UMass.
Strat's Firsts: Liz Stratman started at UMass last week, her first career start. She made it count, totaling 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. It was also her first career double-double.
Stratman Takes Down Old Team: Liz Stratman had extra motivation in the win over Xavier, her former team. The 6-2 Stratman came off the bench for 13 points and eight rebounds as BU defeated XU. She played in 12 games there last year before transferring to Butler in December 2011. She averaged 15.5 minutes and 3.2 points per game before choosing to leave for BU.
Blaire Force One: Through 16 games, Blaire Langlois had scored 16 career points. She has increased her production lately, scoring 24 points over the last three contests. Langlois put up 14 points in BU's win over Xavier, including 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. She played a career-high 25 minutes at La Salle and then had seven points at UMass.
Schippers Helping Out: Taylor Schippers has seen her assist totals climb recently. The Bulldog point guard is averaging 5.0 assists over the last six games. She has three outings this season with at least six assists.
Road Warriors: Butler has bucked conventional wisdom that young teams struggle to win on the road. The Bulldogs, with no seniors actively playing, are 7-3 in true road games this season. That includes a 2-0 mark in A-10 play, as BU has claimed double-digit wins at La Salle and UMass.
Charity Work: Butler had season highs in free throws made (24) and attempted (35) at UMass. Part of that was because UMass decided to foul in the final minute when they were down 15, but the Bulldogs had been drawing fouls in order to build that big lead. Taylor Schippers, Liz Stratman and Daress McClung combined to shoot 20 foul shots, convering 14. Butler is 5-0 this season when attempting at least 20 free throws.
Not A Bad Weekend: Beth Couture called Daress McClung's performances against Cleveland State and UIC at the beginning of January the best back-to-back games she's seen as a coach. McClung posted 22 points and 18 boards at Cleveland State and then followed that with her 31-point, 12-board outburst at UIC.
The Last Time: With 10 helpers at UIC, Taylor Schippers became the first Butler player to have 10 assists in a game since Terra Burns did it in 2010. Daress McClung's total of 31 points in that game was the most since Hannah Douglas went for 31 last season vs. Wright State.
(Former) League Sweep: In its first season out of the Horizon League, Butler posted a 3-0 mark against HL schools. The Bulldogs defeated Valparaiso 69-55 in November and then began January with road wins at Cleveland State (56-54) and UIC (84-61).
Butler In The HL: Before leaving for the A-10, 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.
In The Classroom: Seven BU players earned a 3.30 GPA or better during the fall semester. As a team, the Bulldogs boast a 3.14 cumulative GPA.
Up Next: Following Sunday's tilt against VCU, Butler will go back to Philadelphia to take on St. Joseph's Wednesday, Jan. 30. That game is Butler's second of three trips to Philly this season.