Bulldogs Tip Off 2005-06 Season at Nationally-Ranked Purdue
Nov. 17, 2005
THE TIP: Meeting for the first time in almost 10 years, Butler travels to West Lafayette, Ind., to open the season against No. 19/24 Purdue. The in-state rivals have not met since Jan. 2, 1996, but Friday's contest starts a four-year series between the two teams. The Bulldogs, coming off their first .500 season in six years, begin the 2005-06 campaign with six road games.
THE SERIES: Purdue enters Friday's game with a 3-0 advantage over the Bulldogs in the all-time series between the two teams. Two of those Boilermaker wins have come in West Lafayette. The first meeting between the two teams occurred Dec. 29, 1986 when Purdue won, 79-56.
LISTEN LIVE: Josh Rattray returns as the play-by-play voice of the Bulldogs this season and is joined by Cory Schnurbusch in bringing the action of Butler basketball live on www.butlersports.com all season. Butler Athletics will provide the feed free to fans this season and will also have a video stream available for all home contests and Horizon League games.
BEHIND THE ARC: The Bulldogs led the Horizon League and finished eighth in the nation last season with an average of 7.3 three-pointers made per game. The 2004-05 squad set a new team mark with 204 treys on the season, breaking the standard of 186 set during the 2001-02 campaign. In conference play, the Bulldogs led the league in three-point percentage (.375) and three-pointers made (7.8 per game).
Butler also finished third in the Horizon League and 34th in the NCAA with a .351 three-point percentage.
NATIONAL THREAT: Junior Jackie Closser finished in the Top 50 nationally in three statistics last season. She was 26th in three-point percentage (.409), 34th in three-pointers made (67) and 49th in assists (4.9 per game).
Closser's 67 three-pointers set a new Butler single-season record.
CHARITY WORK: Junior Ellen Hamilton led the Horizon League with a .867 free throw percentage in 2004-05. In her two-year career, Hamilton has hit 90 of her 103 free throw attempts (87 percent). Hamilton is the Bulldogs' top returning scorer, averaging 11.2 ppg last season.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Butler tipped off the 2005-06 season with an exhibition win over the Hoosier Lady Stars. Freshman center Lade Akande led the Bulldogs with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Junior college transfer Carla Gheorghe had 12 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Butler led by as many as 15 in the 71-66 win.
BULLDOGS PICKED FIFTH: The Horizon League's head coaches tabbed Butler to finish fifth in the upcoming season, as the preseason poll almost mirrorred the final standings from 2004-05. UW-Green Bay was picked to win the league championship.
Closser and Hamilton enter the season in the top 10 on Butler's career three-pointers made list. Closser has 102 (sixth), while Hamilton has hit 98 (seventh).
THE `BAIN' EVENT: Losing the team's two starting post players from last season and throwing two newcomers into the starting line-up on the block this year, the X-factor for the 2005-06 Bulldogs could be sophomore Candace Bain. Despite logging just 73 minutes of action last season, Bain will see significant minutes in the paint this season. She didn't disappoint last time out, putting up eight points on 3-of-6 shooting against the Hoosier Lady Stars. She added three rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes.
NEWCOMER NO MORE: Sophomore Cassie Freeman returns after earning a spot on the Horizon League's five-member "All-Newcomer Team" last season. Freeman made 22 starts for the Bulldogs last season, averaging 3.8 points per game.
Freeman had nine points and seven rebounds in last week's exhibition against the Hoosier Lady Stars.
THE VETERANS: Butler's roster features four seniors this season. Nikki Budgake and Stephanie Boeke begin their fourth season under coach Beth Couture, while junior college transfers Gina Grussing and Jessica Smart enter their second and final campaign at Butler. Grussing is returning to action after an ACL tear sidelined her for the final 10 games of the 2004-05 season.
THE NEWCOMERS: Butler adds a talented class of rookies, led by junior college transfer Carla Gheorghe, who earned NJCAA All-American honors at Vincennes (Ind.) University last season. She joins freshmen Lade Akande, Candyce Brown and Candace Jones.
QUICK SHOTS: Senior Stephanie Boeke and junior Jackie Closser will serve as captains for the 2005-06 season...Butler's regular season game at UW-Green Bay has been moved from Saturday, Jan. 21 to Sunday, Jan. 22 to accommodate ESPNU, which will be airing the game live at noon (CST, 1 p.m. Indianapolis)...Butler head coach Beth Couture is one of 31 coaches voting on this season's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. Couture represents the Horizon League on the weekly ballot.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: The Bulldogs have made at least one three-pointer in 124 straight games, dating back to Feb. 1, 2001...Butler is looking to erase a six-year trend of losing its season opener. The Bulldogs defeated Michigan State, 70-62, to begin the 1998-99 season.
MARATHON WOMAN: Jackie Closser played the entire game on 12 occasions last season, including both of the Bulldogs' overtime contests. Averaging 37.8 minutes per game, Closser logged 1,057 minutes, the third-highest single-season mark in school history.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Butler begins the season without graduated players Cortney Urquhart, Maria Marchesano and Courtney Lickliter. Urquhart became the 16th member of the 1,000-point club last season, while Marchesano's 142 three-pointers are second in Butler history. Lickliter, who earned two letters after transferring from Lewis University, is completing her degree this semester.
ALEXANDRIA REUNION: Friday's match-up is a reunion of sorts for Butler junior Jackie Closser and Purdue freshman Jodi Howell. The two were high school teammates at Alexandria-Monroe high school. Both were coached by Howell's father, Jon, during their prep careers. He left the sidelines this season, turning the team over to Closser's older brother, Josh.
THIS YEAR'S SLATE: In addition to the home-and-home regular season series against all eight Horizon League foes, Butler's 2005-06 schedule includes six in-state foes (Purdue, Indiana State, Ball State, Evansville, IUPUI and IPFW). That's the highest number of Hoosier opponents since the 1989-90 campaign. The non-conference schedule also includes the Thanksgiving tournament in California, Eastern Illinois, Miami (Ohio) and UMBC.
THE BEST THAT EVER PLAYED...HERE: Butler Basketball is asking for fans' help in celebrating the university's Sesquicentennial. In recognizing the school's storied 150 years, a fifteen-player men's team and ten-player women's squad will be honored as the "Teams of the Sesquicentennial." The teams will be chosen by an online vote in partnership with voting panels of former coaches, players and media members. The online ballot for both the men's and the women's teams can be accessed at www.butlersports.com. The women's team will be announced at the Jan. 28 home doubleheader against Wright State.