Jan. 19, 2007
Butler (7-10) at IPFW (7-8)
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2007
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Hilliard Gates Sports Center (2,800) Fort Wayne, Ind.
Tip-Off: Butler takes a brief break from the Horizon League schedule on Saturday (Jan. 20) when it takes on IPFW beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center. The Bulldogs hold a 2-2 record all-time against the Mastodons but have won the last two meetings. Both of those wins have come under the tutelage of head coach Beth Couture, including a 70-60 victory in Fort Wayne last season.
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 (7-10, 4-2 Horizon League) continues to improve statistically after a slow start to the season, claiming wins in five of its last seven games. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with nearly 35 percent (127-of-367) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.4 treys per game ranking 13th in the NCAA D-I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (12.9 points per game) and Ellen Hamilton (9.2 ppg) have each eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers this season and rank in the top 10 in the Horizon League in three pointers per game. Sophomore center Lade Akande adds a strong inside presence, leading the team with 13.4 ppg and 5.1 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an offensive boost with 10.8 ppg in eight games this year, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a team-high .446 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 (314-193) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs Escape Detroit With 59-51 Win: Clutch three-pointers by Cassie Freeman and Tara Miller and a near-record-setting effort from the free throw line by Jackie Closser helped the Bulldogs claw their way back late to claim a 59-51 victory over Detroit on Jan. 18 at Calihan Hall. Freeman and Miller each nailed a pair of three pointers late in the contest, with Freeman's second trey with 9:26 remaining in the game giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the contest, and Closser notched 10 second-half makes from the line to secure the win in the final minutes. Four Bulldogs finished with double-figure totals in scoring, including Closser (17 points), Miller (13), Lade Akande (11) and Freeman (10).
Charitable at Detroit: Jackie Closser literally couldn't miss from the free-throw line at Detroit on Jan. 18, converting all 12 of her attempts from the charity stripe. It was the second time that Closser has gone 12-for-12 from the line in her career, with the last time ironically coming on the very same Calihan Hall floor on Feb. 6, 2006. 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 five conference games this season, Butler is out-scoring its opponents by 6.0 points per game (69.8 to 63.8). The figures in the previous 11 non-conference match-ups, however, were far less impressive, as the Bulldogs were out-scored by 9.7 points per game (62.7 to 72.5).
The Tara Miller Factor: Things have notably improved for the Bulldogs since sophomore guard Tara Miller stepped onto the floor. In Butler's past eight games since Miller's arrival in the lineup, the Bulldogs are averaging almost 14 points per game more than in the first nine (72.6 to 58.7) and are holding opponents to over eight points per game fewer (65.0 to 73.3). Miller has helped the cause since becoming eligible on Dec. 18 after transferring from Indiana last fall, averaging 10.8 points per game, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 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 eight contests, the Pre-Season All-Horizon League First Team pick has averaged nearly six points per game more than in her previous seven games (16.5 to 10.9) while shooting 15.3 percentage points higher (50.0 to 34.7).
...But Don't Forget Closser: Senior guard Jackie Closser has also returned to her all-league self in the past eight games, averaging 15.3 points per game and hitting 47.9 percent (23-of-48) from three-point range after scoring 10.9 ppg and converting just under 20 percent (13-of-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 1,110 points in her career for 13th in the Bulldog record books and needs 19 to pass Nikki Anderson (1,128) for 12th all-time. Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 15th with 1,041 and requires 40 points to move pass Angela Cotton (1,080) for 14th. 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.
Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler leads the Horizon League and is 13th in the NCAA Division I with 7.4 three-pointers made per game while ranking fourth in the league with a .340 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged slightly more in league games, ranking third with 7.8 per game.
Closser And Hamilton Lead the Way: Senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton have led the way for the Bulldogs from downtown this season. Closser leads the team and is fourth in the Horizon League with 2.1 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 1.9 per game for seventh in the conference.
Accuracy Counts: Cassie Freeman has made the most of her attempts from long distance. Freeman leads the team and is second in the Horizon League with a .446 three-point percentage coming on 25-of-56 shooting.
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 7-of-19 from three for a .368 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller netted 16-of-44 (.364) in her first eight games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with seven treys of her own.
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 13.4 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 43 career games. She currently leads the team and is 10th in the Horizon League with a .437 field goal percentage.
...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She is tied for fourth in the league with 16.0 points per game and is eighth with a .486 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 7.0 rebounds per league game, the fifth-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.
Keeping it Going: With a three-pointer at Detroit on Jan. 18, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 45 in a row. So far this season, she is 36-of-114 for three (31.6 percent) and is second on the team with 12.9 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 15.6 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League, and also rank third in assists-to-turnover ratio at 0.9. Butler's six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 is also the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season. ...But That Doesn't Mean They Don't Steal: The Bulldogs have turned up the pressure on their opponents lately, forcing a season-high 11 steals against Loyola on Jan. 13 before topping that mark with 13 thefts at Detroit on Jan. 18. Butler has averaged 8.3 steals per game in Horizon League contests, the fifth-highest mark in the conference.
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 currently leads the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 58 of her 66 attempts for a .879 average. In fact, Closser has missed only one shot in Horizon League play this season, hitting 31-of-32 for a .969 percentage.
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 games this season and has played fewer than 35 minutes only three times. She currently leads the team and the Horizon League with 36.9 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 3,230 minutes in her career, the fifth-most all-time, and needs 378 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. With 11 regular season games and at least one Horizon League Tournament game remaining, she will need to average just under 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 also approaching rare figures in terms of minutes played. The senior guard currently touts 2,796 minutes in her career and ranks 10th on the all-time list.
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 4.0 assists per game and is second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. She also touts 391 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. Fourth place is a ways off, however, as Barb Skinner dished 509 from 1980-83. The school record of 584 was set by Melissa Kilgore from 1985-88.
...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.
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, tied for 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. Since then, only Detroit has registered 11, coming against Youngstown State on Jan. 13.
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 returns home to Indianapolis on Thursday (Jan. 25) when it welcomes UW-Green Bay to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a 7:00 p.m. contest with the Phoenix.