Indianapolis, Ind. - With the return of three starters from a team that advanced to within a game of its first NCAA berth in 10 seasons, the Butler women's basketball team has been picked to finish third in the Horizon League this year, according to the 2007-08 Preseason Poll which was released by the league office on Wednesday (Oct. 10). The Bulldogs earned 238 points in the poll, including five first-place votes, to finish just 15 points shy of Milwaukee for first.
The Bulldogs return eight of 12 letterwinners from a season ago, including a pair of 2007 All-Horizon League honorees in junior center Lade Akande (Second Team) and sophomore forward Susan Lester (Newcomer Team).
Butler, which finished last season by advancing to the Horizon League Championship game for the first time since 1998, posted a 16-15 overall record and an 11-5 mark in conference play in 2006-07.
The top three teams in the poll all finished within a 15-point range. Milwaukee garnered 253 points, including 13 votes for first place, and finished as the league's preseason favorite by a nine-point margin over 2007 Horizon League Champion Green Bay, which earned 244 points and nine first-place ballots.
"We're very happy to be picked so high in our league," head coach Beth Couture said. "Every year our goal is to compete to be the best in the conference. The polls don't mean much until we are able to prove it, but we do take pride in being recognized so highly by our peers."
UIC finished a distant fourth, trailing the Bulldogs by 62 points with 176 points. Rookie league member Valparaiso received a commendable fifth-place ranking in its first league balloting with 152 points.
The sixth, seventh and eighth place teams all finished within 16 points of each other, with Youngstown State (118), Wright State (104) and Cleveland State (102) filling the spots, while ninth-place Detroit (78) and 10th-place Loyola (75) rounded out the poll.
It is the second-straight season that the Bulldogs have been picked third in the poll. Butler earned 192 total points and one first place vote in the 2006-07 Preseason Poll and finished 42 points short of front-runner Green Bay.
The Horizon League Preseason Poll is voted on by head coaches, sports information directors and a media member from each school.
Following an exhibition contest against the Hoosier Basketball Magazine All-Stars on Nov. 7, Butler opens up the 2007-08 season at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Ohio on Nov. 10.