THE TIP: Butler, after a 9-7 Horizon League record earned the team a fourth-place finish, hosts fifth-seeded Detroit in a Horizon League Tournament quarterfinal match-up Wednesday. The teams will tangle for the third time this season after each team won on the other's home court during the regular season. Free video of the (EST) tip will be available live at www.butlersports.com.
THE SERIES: This is the 47th meeting between Detroit and the Bulldogs. The Titans own a 31-15 advantage in the all-time series, with the teams splitting 22 previous match-ups in Indianapolis. Butler knocked off the Titans, 71-65, in Detroit Feb. 6, getting revenge for Detroit's 71-69 triumph Jan. 12 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. This is the fourth time that Detroit and Butler will meet in postseason play. The Titans have won two of the three prior tournament meetings, the last one coming in 1999.
LEAGUE RECOGNITION: Junior Jackie Closser earned "All-Horizon League" first-team honors, while freshman Lade Akande was named to the "All-Horizon League" second team and the league's five-member "All-Newcomer Team," the league office announced Monday (Feb. 27). The league's head coaches, sports information directors and a media member voted on the postseason awards. Nancy Bowden was the last Bulldog to earn first-team honors (2004), while Akande is the Bulldogs' fourth All-Newcomer selection in the last five years.
`JACK' OF ALL TRADES: With her trio of three-pointers Feb. 16 at Loyola, junior Jackie Closser became the most prolific three-point shooter in Butler history, breaking Debbie Benziger's (1995-98) previous mark of 167. Closser now has 181 career bombs and still has more than a season remaining in her Butler career. Closser also has broken her own single-season three-pointers mark (67 set last season), entering Wednesday's contest with 79 treys already this season, the fifth-best mark in Horizon League history. She continues to lead the conference with an average of 3.04 three-pointers made per game. That's the eighth-best mark in the nation. Not just a shooter, Closser also leads the Horizon League in assists at 5.42 per game, the 22nd-best mark in the NCAA. She also leads the circuit in assist/turnover ratio (1.97) and her 318 career assists are seventh on Butler's charts.
BIG PLAY LADE: Freshman Lade Akande has become a model of consistency for the Bulldogs. The 6-1 post player has been in double figures in 10 straight games and 19 of Butler's last 20 contests. Akande has posted eleven 20+ point performances in her freshman campaign. Her 15.7 ppg scoring average is fourth in the Horizon League, while she is second in rebounding at eight boards per contest. Her scoring average jumps to 18.1 against league competition, the second-highest mark in the circuit. Akande's 423 points this season are the eighth-best single-season mark in Butler history.
DIALED IN: Butler leads the Horizon League and remains among the national leaders in long distance proficiency. The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in three-point percentage (.396) and three-pointers per game (7.89). Butler ranks third among the NCAA's 324 institutions in three-pointers made and eighth in trey percentage. Butler nailed 11 treys Saturday against UW-Green Bay, the 14th time this season hitting at least eight treys.
Butler's 213 three-pointers so far this season breaks the school-record of 204 set one season ago.
SHOOTING IT STRAIGHT: Junior Ellen Hamilton is knocking down 48 percent of her three-point attempts so far this season, which is good for the No. 2 spot in the NCAA. Due to the Horizon League requiring less made treys than the NCAA, Hamilton is third in the Horizon League (trailing teammate Cassie Freeman and Detroit's Katie Solner). Hamilton is third on the career treys list (166) and has 68 three-pointers already this season, the second-best total in Butler single-season history. Hamilton ranks second in the league in treys made at 2.52 per game.
OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR: Butler is averaging 70 points per game this season, the second-best total in the Horizon League. The Bulldogs boast three of the top nine scorers in the Horizon League in Lade Akande (15.7), Jackie Closser (15.2) and Ellen Hamilton (13.0). The trio ranks 4-5-9 in the league standings. Butler averaged just 59.6 ppg a season ago, topping 70 points just four times. Akande, Closser and Hamilton all average more this season than last season's top scorer (Cortney Urquhart - 12.0 ppg) did.
Butler is 13-2 this season when scoring 70 points or more.
LEAGUE LEADERS: Junior Jackie Closser is second in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.858, 30th nationally). Other Bulldogs appearing in the circuit's top five are freshman Lade Akande (second at 8.0 rebounds and third at 1.33 blocks per game) and Cassie Freeman (second in three-point percentage at .483).
QUICK SHOTS: A win Wednesday would give Butler 15 wins, which would be new respective season-highs for Butler under coach Beth Couture...sophomore Cassie Freeman had a career-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting Feb. 16 at Loyola...junior Jackie Closser played all 40 minutes Feb. 23 against Cleveland State, the eighth time this season she's gone the distance...Ellen Hamilton (Jan. 16) joined Jackie Closser (Dec. 5) and Lade Akande (Dec. 26) in winning the Horizon League's Player of the Week honor. The only other season when three different Bulldogs earned the distinction was the 1996-97 season...former Indiana All-Star Tara Miller has transferred to Butler from IndianaUniversity. The 5-10 guard began practice with the team Jan. 17 and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning after the first semester of the 2006-07 season.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR US?: Freshman Candyce Brown had career-highs of five assists and four steals Feb. 23 against Cleveland State, while matching her personal-best with seven points. Brown played 31 minutes in her sixth career start.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: Butler has hit at least one three-pointer in 151 straight games, dating back to Feb. 1, 2001...the Bulldogs have shot at least 70 percent from the free throw line in nine of their last 11 games.
REMEMBERING THE TITANS: Juniors Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton have combined to average 36 points per game against the Titans in the two regular season contests this season...Detroit has hit 18-of-34 (.529) from three-point range in the two games...both teams have wasted halftime leads: Butler led 31-29 at the break Jan. 12 before losing 71-69, while the Titans led 35-24 at intermission before Butler came back for a 71-65 win Feb. 6.
BOEKE LOST FOR THE SEASON: Senior forward Stephanie Boeke will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during Butler's game at Detroit Feb. 6. Boeke appeared in 98 games in her Butler career, including 22 contests this season. At the time of her injury, Boeke ranked in the top 10 among Horizon League players in six (rebounds, assists, blocked shots, assist/turnover ratio, offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding) of the league's 12 statistical categories.
NO. 300: Butler head coach Beth Couture hit the 300 milestone for career wins Jan. 18 with the Bulldogs' 85-72 triumph over Loyola at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The first 258 wins of Couture's career came at PresbyterianCollege.
CLOSSER IS CLUTCH: Junior Jackie Closser hit all 12 of her free throw attempts Feb. 6 at Detroit, securing the come-from-behind win against the Titans. The 12 makes without a miss is tied for second on Butler's single-game records chart (one off the 13-13 performance of Shelley Roby, 2/20/88 vs. Evansville).
WORTHLESS STAT OF THE DAY: With the team's three healthy seniors starting their last regular season game Saturday, all 12 players on the Butler roster have started at least one game this season.