INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Basketball is back at Hinkle Fieldhouse as the women's team returns to the hardwood for their first week of practice. The Bulldogs will start a new chapter this year by joining the BIG EAST Conference, but first they will use the month of October to prepare for the upcoming season.
One year after playing in the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Bulldogs will once again make a change as the department shifts to the BIG EAST. The 2012-13 team posted an overall record of 17-14 with an 8-6 mark in A-10 action. Nine letterwinners, including three starters return to the team in 2013-14 along with two impact players that sat out last year due to injuries.
The Bulldogs will look for senior leadership from Daress McClung and Mandy McDivitt. McClung put up great numbers during her junior campaign after transferring to Butler from Cincinnati. The guard/forward led the team in scoring, dropping 16.4 points per game and also led the team in rebounds, grabbing nine boards per contest. Both McClung and McDivitt started in all 31 games a year ago. McDivitt is a threat to teams from behind the arc and she has settled into the defensive stopper role for the Bulldogs. The senior knocked down 41 shots from behind the arc and was second on the team in steals with 51.
Joining the senior duo as impact players for the 2013-14 season is combo guard Taylor Schippers and post presence Liz Stratman. Schippers ran the point last year, but she could see more time off the ball this season as she led the team in 3-point field goals. Stratman is another piece to the puzzle as she averaged 10.8 points per game during the second half of last season.
The return of Sarah Hamm and Haley Howard will be beneficial to the team as each student-athlete was absent from the court last year due to injuries. Other letterwinners returning this season include Blaire Langlois, Lexus Murry, and Olivia Wrencher.
The five newcomers on the 2013-14 team will compete for playing time and provide Head Coach Beth Couture with depth at multiple positions. JUCO standout Ijeoma Uchendu can play both the guard and forward position standing at 6-1 as can freshman Ashton Feldhaus who checks in at 6-2. The tallest women's basketball recruit hails from Israel this season as Zoe Reichman joins the team as a true freshman. Lexington, Ky. native Serena Sandusky will be in the mix for Butler, but Loryn Goodwin (North Texas) will have to sit this season out due to the NCAA transfer rule.
Last year's team reached the WNIT for the sixth time in school history. A strong 2013-14 season in the BIG EAST could land Butler in the NCAA Tournament, but before they get to the finish line they will have to get started with an exhibition game vs. DePauw on Nov. 3. Three of Butler's first four games of the season will be played at home with the season opener slated for Friday, Nov. 8 vs. Cleveland State.