Butler (1-0) at Bradley (0-1)
November 13, 2007 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Robertson Field House - Peoria, Ill.
The Opening Tip: After scoring a win at home in their first game of the year, the Bulldogs head to Peoria, Ill. on Tuesday (Nov. 13) for their first road test of the season when they take on Bradley beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. local) at Robertson Field House.
Butler Basketball On The Air: Butler's contest at Bradley on Nov. 13 can be heard online for free at the Braves' athletics website, www.BUBraves.com. The live audio broadcast is available by clicking on the broadcast link on the schedule on the women's basketball page.
Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler heads into its first road game of the year with a 1-0 record after claiming a 59-58 win over Ohio on Nov. 10. 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, the top scorers and rebounders in 2006-07, continued the trend in the first game of the year with Akande posting 23 points and six boards and Lester netting 12 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Tara Miller, who led the team with 3.5 assists per game last season, dished a game-high five in the first contest of the year while adding eight points. Junior Candace Jones adds a veteran presence to the perimeter after finishing last season by averaging over eight points and nearly four rebounds in the final nine contests of the year. Freshman Brittany Bowen, meanwhile, earned her the start in her first collegiate game against Ohio and tallied four points in 15 minutes of action. Senior forwards and co-captains Candace Bain and Cassie Freeman bring leadership to the floor and add an outside threat to the post position. Sophomore Melanie Thornton provides a quick and athletic presence at the post, while junior Candyce Brown brings strong defensive prowess on the perimeter. Rookie forwards Chloe Hamilton, Amie Kabara and Jenny Ostrom, as well as freshman guards Azjah Bass and Terra Burns, add depth.
A Look At The Braves: Tuesday's contest will be the fifth meeting between the programs, with the Bulldogs holding a 3-1 edge in the all-time series. The Braves are 0-1 on the year after falling at Northern Illinois on Friday (Nov. 9) by a 54-48 score. Bradley was picked to finish 10th in the Missouri Valley Conference this year after posting a 12-19 overall record and a 7-11 conference mark in 2006-07. The Braves return just one of its top five scorers in senior guard Devyn Flanagan and less than 35 percent of its scoring from last season. The Bulldogs claimed their first win of 2006-07 against Bradley, topping the Braves 85-73 on Nov. 17 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler Hangs On For 59-58 Win Over Ohio: Junior Lade Akande tallied a game-high 23 points and sophomore Susan Lester added 12 as the Bulldogs held on for a 59-58 victory over visiting Ohio at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Nov. 10) afternoon. Trailing by one at 58-57 with just over two minutes remaining in the game, Akande put what would be the winning points on the board with a tough lay-up in traffic off a pass from junior Tara Miller. The Bulldogs would cling to the one-point margin despite four missed free throws in the final 50 seconds by forcing a pair of Bobcat turnovers and two errant field goal attempts, including a game-ending turnover as time expired.
That's Called A Winning Streak: A win over Bradley on Tuesday would give Butler a 2-0 start to the season, a feat that has not been accomplished by a Bulldogs' team since the 1992-93 squad topped both Cincinnati and West Virginia to start the year. In fact, Butler's victory over Ohio on Nov. 10 was the program's first win in a season-opener since the 1998-99 team topped Michigan State, 70-62, to begin the year.
Centers Of Attention: The Bulldogs have been one of the best teams in the nation when it came to shooting the three ever since head coach Beth Couture arrived at the Indianapolis campus, including a 2006-07 campaign that saw Butler rank second in the NCAA Division I with 8.4 treys per game. This season, however, the Bulldogs could be seeing a lot more action from inside the three-point arc, as junior center Lade Akande and sophomore forward Susan Lester will be relied upon to provide the bulk of the offense this season. The tandem has already gotten off to a great start in the team's first game against Ohio, with Akande leading the team with 23 points and Lester ranking second with 12.
...But Don't Think The Three Is Out: Just because the Bulldogs feature two of the best post players in the Horizon League doesn't mean they won't be eliminating their bread-and-butter three-pointer completely. Butler drained six three pointers on 21 attempts in its contest against the Bobcats, including a two treys on nine attempts from post player Susan Lester.
An Early Homecoming: It will be just the second game of her burgeoning collegiate career, but the Bulldogs' game at Bradley will already be a homecoming for freshman guard Terra Burns. The Peoria native was an all-state second team honoree as a senior at Peoria High School after finishing her high school tenure with a school-record 1,570 points, including 467 in her final season.
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 Winning Ways Should Be Here 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.
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. After tallying 23 points in the Bulldogs' first game of the season, Akande now needs just 99 points to reach 1,000 and is on pace to 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.
Next Up: The Bulldogs get a big non-conference
test this weekend when they head to West Lafayette, Ind. on
Saturday (Nov. 17) for a 7:00 p.m. contest with Purdue, which
enters the week ranked No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.