Butler Opens Regular Season At Ohio State On Friday
The Opening Tip: Butler kicks off the 2008-09 season on the road when it takes on Ohio State on Friday (Nov. 14) beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Value City Arena. The Bulldogs will meet the Buckeyes for the first time ever in women's basketball. OSU will be the first of as many as nine Butler opponents this season that advanced to post-season play last year.
Bring `Em Back: Butler returns 11 of 13 letterwinners from 2007-08, accounting for 91 percent of its scoring, 91 percent of its rebounding and 92 percent of its assists.
Bulldogs Tabbed Fifth In League Preseason Poll: The Butler women's basketball team was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League regular season this year according to the league's preseason poll. The Bulldogs received a total of 204 points in the poll as well as one first-place vote. Green Bay, last year's regular season champion, was the poll's top vote getter, garnering 284 total points and 24 of the 29 first-place ballots. Wright State (241 point, 1 first place vote) edged out Milwaukee (240, 2) for second place overall, while 2008 Horizon League tournament champion Cleveland State (228, 1) checked in at fourth-place.
Akande, Lester Earn Preseason Honors: For the fourth-straight season, a pair of Bulldogs have earned spots on the Preseason All-Horizon League teams, as senior center Lade Akande was named to the all-league first team and junior forward Susan Lester was tabbed to the second team. Akande, a native of Robinson, Ill., earned mention on the preseason squads for the third-straight season, while Lester, a native of Anderson, Ind., received the honor for the second time in as many years.
National Attention: The Butler women's basketball team will get national attention later in the season, as the Bulldogs' game against Wright State on Feb. 6 will be broadcast live on ESPNU beginning at 9 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It will be the fourth time in four seasons Butler will appear on the ESPN network. The Bulldogs' appearance in the 2007 Horizon League Championship game against Green Bay was broadcast live on ESPNU, while Butler's regular season road games against the Phoenix last spring and during the 2005-06 campaign were both carried on ESPNU.
A Look At Ohio State: Butler will square-off with the Buckeyes for the first time in women's basketball in both school's season-openers on Nov. 14. Ohio State enters the 2008-09 campaign tabbed as the Big Ten favorite in the conference's media poll and second in the coaches' poll. The Buckeyes return 10 of 13 letterwinners from a 2007-08 squad that went 22-9 and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore center Jantel Lavender, the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, was the team's leading scorer and rebounder as a freshman with 17.6 points and 9.9 boards.
Battle-Tested: Butler will take on as many as nine opponents that advanced to post season play last year, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska, New Mexico and Ohio State.
Butler Basketball On The Web: Twenty-three of the Bulldogs' games this season will feature live streaming video online. The Horizon League Network will feature 21 of the contests, including all of Butler's home games and every league road game. Additionally, the Bulldogs' matches at Ohio State and Indiana will be streamed at BigTenNetwork.com.
Crunching The Numbers: The Bulldogs' 20-10 overall mark in 2007-08 was the program's best single-season record since the 1997-98 team finished the year at 25-6. Butler's 20 victories were also the most in a single season during head coach Beth Couture's six years at the helm.
An Upward Trend: The Bulldogs have steadily improved under the tutelage of head coach Beth Couture, and the 2007-08 season was the finest yet. After doubling its win total in Couture's first season with six victories, Butler went on to post 14, 14, 15, 16 and 20 wins in the last five seasons.
Talented Rookie Tandem: Butler newcomers Devin Brierly and Kaley May will both be expected to make significant contributions in their first seasons with the team. Brierly, a 5-9 guard from Southwestern High School in Hanover, Ind., was a McDonalds All-America nominee, while May, a 5-11 guard/forward from Avon (Ind.) High School, was also nominated for the national award.
In The Waiting: Junior guard Alyssa Pittman will have to sit out the 2008-09 season after transferring to the Bulldogs from Eastern Michigan last spring. The wait could be well worth it, as Pittman's 152 three-pointers made during her two seasons with the Eagles would rank fourth on Butler's all-time career list.
One Grand 1,000: A lay-up with 1:32 left to play in the first period against Evansville last December placed Lade Akande in rare company with over 1,000 points in her career. The Robinson, Ill., native became just the 19th player in school history to eclipse the scoring mark and was the first Butler player to reach the milestone before her senior season since Jennifer Marlow in 1997-98.
Moving Up The List: It hasn't taken long for Lade Akande to climb the Bulldogs' career scoring chart. After becoming just the 19th player in school history to record 1,000 points in her career early last season, Akande continued her ascent up the all-time scoring list, moving up to seventh all-time with 1,360 career points by the end of her junior year.
Next In Line?: In just two seasons, Susan Lester has totalled 668 points in her career, the second most among Butler's active players.
National Recognition For Passing: Forward Tara Miller found herself among the best in the country when it came to handling the ball during the year. She finished the season ranked second in all of the NCAA Division-I with a 2.84 A/T ratio, just three hundredths of a point behind national leader Kristi Cirone of Illinois State (2.87). Miller was ranked first or second nationally in A/T ratio since Jan. 14, including a 25-day stint from Jan. 14 to Feb. 7 at the top of the NCAA charts. Her 3.0 assists per game were the second-most on the team and the 14th in the league.
In Elite Company: Lade Akande not only ranks among the top 10 all-time in scoring but she is also fourth on the Butler charts with 111 career blocks. Additionally, with 573 career rebounds, she is 27 boards shy of becoming just the fourth Bulldog player ever with over 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in her career.
Hard To Miss: Lade Akande was not only one of the most effective scorers in the Horizon League this year, she was also one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. Akande finished the 2007-08 season with a .559 field goal percentage (204-for-365), the 17th-best in the Division I rankings.
Candace And Candyce: Different spellings but the same pronunciation -- and the same results. The Bulldogs received quite a few assists from the steady hands of guards Candace Jones and Candyce Brown during the 2007-08 season. Jones, a starter in 19 games during the year, led the team with 3.1 dishes per game, while Brown, a 13-game starter, ranked third with 2.4. In fact, one or the other was the assists leader in 18 of the team's games during the year.
Cleaning The Glass: Sophomore forward Susan Lester continued to be one of the best rebounders in the Horizon League in 2007-08 after finishing third in the league with 6.6 rebounds per game as a freshman. The Anderson, Ind., native finished second in the conference with 7.3 boards per game, posted nine or more rebounds on 12 occasions and totaled a team-best nine double-doubles.
Sticking Around: Head coach Beth Couture signed a five-year contract extension last season to remain at the helm through the 2011-12 campaign. Couture has brought Butler full circle since taking the helm in 2002, going from a three-win season the year before her arrival to a 20-win performance last season.
Next Up: Butler returns to action on Tuesday
(Nov. 18) when it heads to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a 7:00 p.m.
contest against host IPFW.