Ohio (0-0) at Butler (0-0)
November 10, 2007
4:30 p.m. ET
The Opening Tip: Butler kicks off the 2007-08 season at home when it welcomes Ohio to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Nov. 10) for a 4:30 p.m. contest against the Bobcats. The game will serve as the second part of a double-header with the Butler volleyball team, which faces Milwaukee at 2:00 p.m.
Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler enters the 2007-08 campaign with three returning starters and eight letterwinners from a team that advanced to the championship game of the 2007 Horizon League Tournament. The Bulldogs finished with a 16-15 overall record and an 11-3 mark in league play, their best totals since the 1998-99 season. After finishing second in the NCAA Division I with 8.4 three pointers made per game, the Bulldogs will turn to the play of it's post players to drive the offense in 2007-08. Junior center Lade Akande and sophomore forward Susan Lester are the top returning scorers and rebounders from last season, with Akande netting 14.1 pointldogss and 5.1 boards and Lester posting 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. Senior forward and co-captain Cassie Freeman brings leadership to the floor and adds an outside threat to the post position after notching 31 three pointers at a rate of 35.2 percent. Junior guard Tara Miller, who sat out the Bulldogs' first nine games of 2006-07, begins her first full season with the team after finishing second with 76 assists while averaging 7.5 points per game. The point guard spot could be filled by junior Candace Jones, who finished last season on a tear by averaging over eight points and nearly four rebounds in the final nine contests of the year. Senior Candace Bain and sophomore Mel Thornton will add depth at the post positions, while junior Candyce Brown brings a defensive presence on the perimeter. Five of the six newcomers totaled 1,000 or more points during their high school careers and could be counted on for significant playing time during the year.
A Look At The Bobcats: Ohio comes to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time in their program's history when the Bulldogs host the Bobcats on Nov. 10. The two teams met for the first time ever last season, with Ohio claiming an 84-53 decision at the Convocation Center on Nov. 26. The Bobcats are the favorites to win the Mid American Conference East Division according to the conference's pre-season poll after returning four starters from a 2006-07 team that went 18-12 overall and 10-6 in league play.
Strong Second-Half Powers Butler In Exhibition Tune-Up: Butler out-scored the Hoosier Lady Stars 51-24 in the second half, including a 42-8 run in the opening 12 minutes, as the Bulldogs claimed a 79-56 decision in an exhibition contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday (Nov. 7). Butler trailed 32-28 at the break before shooting 58.3 percent from the field (32-for-66) in the second period to pull away in a hurry. Lade Akande led all scorers with 17 points, with 15 coming in the first half, while Brittany Bown used 13 second-half points to finish with 15 on the night. The Bulldogs held significant edges on rebounds (44-to-32), assists (25-to-9) and points in the paint (44-to-20).
Butler Picked Third In Preseason Poll: The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Horizon League this season, according to the 2007-08 Horizon League Preseason Poll. Butler earned 238 points in the poll, including five first-place votes, and finished just 15 points behind first-place Milwaukee. The poll is voted on by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media members.
Akande, Lester Named To Preseason Teams: Junior center Lade Akande and sophomore forward Susan Lester were both named to the 2007-08 Preseason All-Horizon League Teams. Akande earned a spot on the all-league first team, while Lester was tabbed to the all-league second team. Butler was the only school to have multiple players mentioned on the squads.
An Upward Trend: The Bulldogs have steadily improved under the tutelage of head coach Beth Couture, and last season was the finest yet. The 16 wins gave the Bulldogs their highest single-season total since the 1998-99 squad finished at 17-11. Additionally, Butler's 11 wins in Horizon League play were the most during Couture's tenure, while the second-place finish was the highest final standing since the 1997-98 season.
...And The Trend Should Continue For A While: Head coach Beth Couture recently signed a five-year contract extension to remain at the helm through the 2011-12 season. Couture has been instrumental in rebuilding the Bulldogs into perennial Horizon League contenders since arriving on campus prior to the 2002-03 season. In just six seasons, she has brought the Butler program from a three-win season the year before her arrival to the program's first appearance in the Horizon League Championship game last season.
Triple City, USA: The Bulldogs have been notorious for shooting the three pointer ever since head coach Beth Couture took over the reigns five years ago, but the 2006-07 season was the most impressive to date. Butler finished the year averaging 8.4 three-pointers per game, the highest mark in the Horizon League and the second-highest in the nation. In fact, the Bulldogs finished just five-hundredths (0.05) of a three-pointer per game behind Santa Clara for the national lead.
The Most Ever: The Bulldogs' 260 three-pointers made during last season rank as the most in school history, easily topping the previous mark of 223 set last season. Additionally, Butler's 15 makes at Milwaukee on Feb. 22 was the highest single game total in Butler history.
Double Trouble: Freshman Susan Lester was nearly unstoppable at times in 2006-07, especially down the stretch when the Bulldogs made their run to the league championship game. In Butler's final 11 contests of the regular season and three games in the league tournament, she averaged 13.3 points and 9.2 rebounds while notching eight double-doubles. Her nine double-doubles during the year were the second-most in the Horizon League and were the most for a freshman. She led the Bulldogs in rebounding 17 times, while her 6.6 rebounds per game paced the squad and were the third most in the league.
Getting There In A Hurry: Not too many Butler players have had better starts to their careers than Lade Akande. The Robinson, Ill. native was dominant on offense in her first season with the team in 2005-06, finishing with 470 points for the highest total in school history by a freshman. She continued that trend as one of the Bulldogs' top scorers last year, tallying 408 points for 878 in her career. With just 122 points to 1,000, Akande will likely become the first Butler player since Jennifer Marlow (1998-99) to reach the milestone before her senior season.
Posting Up From Downtown: The Bulldogs' were clearly the champion when it came to hitting three pointers last season, so much so that even the post players got in on the act. Cassie Freeman and Susan Lester each provided Butler with significant offense from the perimeter, with Freeman hitting 35.2 percent (31-of-88) from downtown and Lester scoring 37.2 percent (32-of-86) from distance. In fact, the two Bulldogs were the only post players ranked among the Horizon League's top-15 in three-point percentage during the year.
Akande Brings It From The Paint: It wasn't all about shooting from long range for the Bulldogs, as Lade Akande could attest. The 6-1 center finished second on the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game despite not taking a single shot from beyond the arc. In fact, the Robinson, Ill. native has yet to shoot for three in 58 career games. She finished her sophomore campaign with a team-best .500 field goal percentage.
1,000 Reason To Celebrate: Departed seniors Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton both became members of the Bulldogs' 1,000 point club during the 2006-07 season. Closser became the 17th player in Butler history to eclipse the mark, notching her 1,0P00th point on a three-pointer against No. 16 Louisville on Dec. 18, while Hamilton became the 18th player with 1,000 just 10 days later on a lay-up against Cleveland State on Dec. 28.
All-League Honors: Three Bulldogs earned All-Horizon League honors in 2006-07. Guard Jackie Closser earned her second-career all-league first team mention, while center Lade Akande was named to the all-league second team for the second time in her career. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester was tabbed to the league's all-newcomer team.
Next Up: Butler heads west to Peoria, Ill. when
the Bulldogs take on Bradley on Tuesday (Nov. 13) beginning at 8:00