Jan. 10, 2007
UIC (7-9, 1-3) at Butler (5-9, 2-1)
Date: Thursday, January 11, 2007
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse (11,043) Indianapolis, Ind.
Tip-Off: The Bulldogs return home to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time in over a month when they host UIC on Thursday (Jan. 11) beginning at 7:00 p.m. Butler leads the all-time series with the Flames at 19-15 and holds an 11-6 mark in games held at Hinkle Fieldhouse. UIC, however, has claimed wins in the last five meetings, with the Bulldogs' last win coming via a 67-50 decision on Feb. 21, 2004. Head coach Beth Couture touts a 3-6 record against the Flames.
Closser, Hamilton Recognized For 1,000: Prior to the Bulldogs' game against UIC on Thursday, senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton will both be honored for becoming just the 17th and 18th players in school history to surpass 1,000 career points. Both players eclipsed the mark during Butler's month-long road trip, with Closser surpassing 1,000 at Louisville on Dec. 18 and Hamilton reaching the milestone at Cleveland State on Dec. 28.
Butler Basketball on the Web: Cory Schnurbusch serves as the play-by-play voice of the Butler women's basketball team for the 2006-07 season. The broadcasts feature live game action on the web at www.ButlerSports.com and are offered for free. Butler also has streaming video available for all home and Horizon League contests during the year.
Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (5-9, 2-1 Horizon League) had their modest three-game win streak come to an end at Wright State on Jan. 6 but has continued to improve following a rough start to the season. In their last five games, the Bulldogs have averaged over 17 points per game more than in their first nine (75.8 to 58.7). The team continues to use the three-pointer as a large part of its scoring, with over a third (102-of-304) of its field goals coming from downtown. Senior guards Jackie Closser (12.4 points per game) and Ellen Hamilton (10.0 ppg) have each eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers this season and rank in the top six in the Horizon League in three pointers per game. Sophomore center Lade Akande adds a strong presence inside, leading the team with 12.8 ppg and adding 4.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an offensive boost with 11.2 ppg in five games this year, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a .432 three-point percentage. Sophomores Candyce Brown and Candace Jones have each added depth on the perimeter, while freshmen forwards Susan Lester and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (312-192) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.
Wright State Ends Three-Game Win Streak: Four Butler players registered double-figure point totals, but Wright State forced 22 turnovers and used a decisive edge in rebounding to hold of the Bulldogs, 76-71, at the Nutter Center on Jan. 6. Butler kept the contest close for the majority of the game but was unable to get the defensive stops when it needed them most. Susan Lester led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Jackie Closser (13 points), Cassie Freeman (11) and Lade Akande (10) chipped in double-digit totals.
A New Horizon: The start of the Horizon League schedule has been a welcomed change for the Bulldogs, and it shows in their numbers. In the three conference games this season, Butler is out-scoring its opponents by 9.3 points per game (72.3 to 63.0). The figures in the previous 11 non-conference match-ups, however, were nearly a polar opposite, as the Bulldogs were out-scored by 9.7 points per game (62.7 to 72.5).
The Tara Miller Factor: Things have notably turned for the better since sophomore guard Tara Miller stepped onto the floor. In Butler's past five games since Miller's arrival in the lineup, the Bulldogs are averaging 17 points per game more than in the first nine (75.8 to 58.7) and are holding opponents to over eight points per game fewer (65.2 to 73.3). Miller has helped the cause since becoming eligible on Dec. 18 after transferring from Indiana last fall, averaging 11.2 points per game, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
...Or It Could Be Akande: Not to be lost in the Bulldogs' turn-around is the superb play of sophomore center Lade Akande. In her last five contests, the Pre-Season All-Horizon League First Team pick has averaged more than seven points per game higher than in her previous seven games (17.0 to 10.9).
...But Don't Forget Closser: Senior guard Jackie Closser has also returned to her all-league self in the past five games, averaging 15.0 points per game and hitting 50 percent (15-of-30) from three-point range after scoring 10.9 ppg and converting just under 20 percent (13-66) from long distance in the first nine contests.
Moving On Up: After eclipsing 1,000 points in their careers this season, senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton continue to move up the Butler all-time scoring list. Closser currently touts 1,063 points in her career for 14th in the Bulldog record books and needs 18 to pass Angela Cotton (1,080) for 13th all-time. Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 16th with 1,025 in her career and needs just seven to move into 15th past Nancy Bowden (1,031). Closser became the 17th player in school history to reach 1,000 points at Louisville on Dec. 18, while Hamilton became number 18 at Cleveland State on Dec. 28.
Akande Brings It From The Paint: It's not all about shooting from long range for the Bulldogs, as sophomore Lade Akande can attest. The 6-1 center leads the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game despite not taking a single shot from beyond the arc this year. In fact, the Robinson, Ill. native has yet to shoot for three in 40 career games. She currently leads the team and is ninth in the Horizon League with a .436 field goal percentage.
...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She ranks fifth in the league with 16.3 points per game and is tied for seventh with a .545 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 7.7 rebounds per league game, the fourth-highest total.
Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler is tied for the Horizon League lead with 7.3 three-pointers made per game while ranking third with a .338 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs slightly better in league contests, ranking tied for second in the conference with 7.7 per game.
Hamilton And Closser Lead the Way: Seniors Ellen Hamilton and Jackie Closser have led the way for the Bulldogs from downtown this season. Hamilton has averaged 2.1 makes per game and is tied for fourth in the Horizon League, while Closser has converted 2.0 per game for a sixth-place tie in the conference.
...And Freeman Makes The Most Of Her Shots: Junior Cassie Freeman has taken advantage of just about every opportunity she has from behind the arc, going 19-of-44 for three and ranking second in the Horizon League with a .432 three-point percentage.
Jones, Miller and Lester: No, it's not a law firm; it's just an example of how many other options the Bulldogs have for pulling the trigger from three. Sophomore guard Candace Jones has hit 6-of-16 from three for a .375 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller netted 10-of-29 in her first five games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with seven treys of her own.
Keeping it Going: With a three-pointer at 1:54 of the second half at Wright State on Jan. 6, Jackie Closser extended her consecutive games with a three-pointer to 42 in a row. So far this season, she is 28-of-96 from beyond the arc and is second on the team with 12.4 points per game. She made sure that every opponent got to feel her wrath from three-point last season, connecting from downtown in all 28 of her games played in 2005-06.
Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 15.9 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League, and also rank third in assists-to-turnover ratio at 0.8. Butler's six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 is also the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.
Taking Advantage of Charity: It's not as if Jackie Closser is asking to go to the free throw line, but, when she does, she makes opponents pay. She is currently third in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 39 of her 46 attempts for a .848 average. In fact, Closser has connected on 14 in a row, with her last miss coming at Evansville on Dec. 6.
Minute Minder: Jackie Closser must really enjoy time-outs, because she doesn't get too many other opportunities to catch her breath. The senior guard has played the full 40 minutes in five of 14 games this season and has played fewer than 37 minutes only four times. She currently leads the team and the Horizon League with 37.4 minutes per game.
...And It Could Be The Most Ever: Jackie Closser has spent a lot of time on the court this season, but she could end up spending more time on the floor than anyone else in Butler history. Closser has played 3,126 minutes in her career, the fifth-most all-time, and needs 482 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. With 14 regular season games and at least one Horizon League Tournament game remaining, she will need to average just over 32 minutes per game to eclipse the mark.
Hamilton Is Right Behind: Ellen Hamilton has been a staple on the floor for the Bulldogs alongside Closser and is approaching rare figures in terms of minutes played. The senior guard currently touts 2,722 minutes in her career and needs just 21 to pass Nikki Anderson (2,742) for the 10th-spot on the all-time list.
Block Party: The Bulldogs are one of the top blocking teams in the Horizon League this year, ranking fourth with 2.8 blocks per game. Two Butler players also find themselves among the top five in the conference, with sophomore Lade Akande (1.3 blocks per game) ranking third and freshman Mel Thornton (0.9) in fifth.
Feeling A Little Rejected: You really couldn't blame Air Force if they felt a little intimidated by the Bulldogs in their game on Nov. 22. That's because Butler notched 11 blocks in the contest, the highest single-game total in the Horizon League this season. Six players contributed at least once, with junior Cassie Freeman touting a career-best four.
A Little Bit Of Help: Jackie Closser has been extremely helpful to the Bulldogs on offense this season and during her career. The senior guard ranks third in the Horizon League with 4.2 assists per game and is second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.90. She also touts 378 assists in her career, the sixth-most in school history, and is just four behind Jennifer Marlow's fifth-place total of 382. The school record of 584 is held by Melissa Kilgore.
...And A Big Help All At Once: Closser's 11 assists against Bradley on Nov. 17 were a career-high for the 5-5 guard and is a Horizon League season-high. She also finished with 14 points in the game for the only points-assists double-double in the Horizon League this year.
Butler Inks Quartet For 2007: High school stand-outs Azjah Bass, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Jenny Ostrom have all signed national letters of intent to attend Butler and play basketball beginning in the fall of 2007. All four have earned all-state accolades and are either approaching or have surpassed 1,000 points in their careers.
Lending A Helping Hand: The Butler women's basketball team took time out of their busy schedule on Nov. 4 to assist at the Special Olympics Area 8 Bowling Championships at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. Members of the team and coaching staff helped out as lane assistants, runners and scorers for the event and presented the awards to the winners. Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities.
At The Buzzer: Butler welcomes Loyola to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Jan. 13) when the Bulldogs battle the Ramblers beginning at 6:00 p.m.