Dec. 2, 2005
THE TIP: Butler continues its season-opening road swing Sunday, traveling to Muncie, Ind., for a neutral court affair against Indiana State in the opening game of the State Farm Hoosier Classic. The teams have played just once in almost the last 10 seasons, an ISU win in the 2002 Classic. Fans can listen to the 2 p.m. game live on www.butlersports.com. Host Ball State and Valparaiso will meet in the second game of the doubleheader.
THE SERIES: Butler holds a 9-7 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams. Indiana State won the last meeting, 102-72, in Indianapolis in the 2002 Hoosier State Classic. That was the first meeting between the teams since 1995 and the only one of Beth Couture's tenure at Butler. The Bulldogs won the seven meetings prior to the 2002 contest. This is the first neutral court game between the two schools.
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.
BIG PLAYERS MAKE BIG PLAYS IN `CLOSS' GAMES: Junior Jackie Closser scored eight points in overtime to solidify an 80-78 win for Butler Wednesday at Eastern Illinois. Closser scored a career-high tying 20 points and added seven assists in the contest. She went 4-of-7 from three-point range and hit all four of her free throw attempts.
Closser is second in the Horizon League in assists (5.25 apg).
SHE'S ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A PLAYER: For the second time this season, junior Ellen Hamilton went a perfect 4-of-4 from three-point range Wednesday at Eastern Illinois. Hamilton scored 19 points in the contest, one off the team lead. So far this season, Hamilton is shooting 50 percent from inside the arc and it's hurting her overall field goal percentage. That's because she is 15-of-21 from three-point range, good for a league-leading 71 percent. Her 3.75 trey per game average also leads the Horizon League.
Hamilton leads the team in scoring at 16.3 ppg. That mark is third in the conference standings.
BOARD WORK: After her 10 rebounds Wednesday at Eastern Illinois, freshman Lade Akande is second in the league standings at 8.2 boards per game. She is also second in the conference in offensive rebounding at 3.0 per game. Akande posted a double-double with game-high totals of 23 points and 12 rebounds against Central Florida Nov. 25 and added 14 points a night later against Saint Mary's to earn Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic "All-Tournament Team" honors.
Akande also had two game-saving blocks in the final 30 seconds of overtime Wednesday in front of her Robinson (Ill.) high school team, which made the short trip to EIU.
MORE ON LADE: Akande also ranks 11th in scoring (13.2 ppg) and fourth in blocks (1.5 bpg) among Horizon League players.
SERVING IT UP ON A TREY: Butler is shooting a league-best 45 percent from behind the arc this season, which has led to 7.8 three-pointers per game. That average is second in the conference. Most of the damage has been done by the team's backcourt of Jackie Closser (10-23, .435) and Ellen Hamilton (15-21, .714).
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Both Ellen Hamilton and Jackie Closser are moving quickly up Butler's career three-pointers list. Hamilton has moved into fifth with 113, while Closser is in sixth place with 112 career treys. The next victim for the sharp-shooting duo is Sarah Hurrle (1997-99) and her 114 career threes.
WE APPRECIATE YOUR CHARITY: After a lackluster 5-of-14 performance from the free throw line in the season opener at Purdue Nov. 18, the Bulldogs have hit 75 percent of their charity tosses in the last three games. The team's backcourt rotation of Jackie Closser (16-17), Ellen Hamilton (10-11) and Candace Jones (11-12) has combined to shoot 93 percent from the line so far this season. The three rank first, third and fourth, respectively, in the Horizon League free throw standings.
CAROM QUEEN: Senior Stephanie Boeke is second on the team and sixth in the Horizon League with an average of 6.3 rebounds per game. She's tied for fourth in the circuit at 2.5 offensive rebounds per game. Boeke tied her career-high with 10 rebounds Wednesday at Eastern Illinois, logging her first start of the season.
KEEPING UP WITH THE `JONESES': Freshman Candace Jones has given coach Beth Couture solid minutes off the bench so far this season. Wednesday against Eastern Illinois, Jones set career-highs in points (seven), rebounds (five) and minutes (27) after a personal-best five assists against Saint Mary's in the team's last outing. Jones is averaging 4.5 points per game.
AGAINST THE SYCAMORES: Only two current Bulldogs were on the roster for the last meeting against Indiana State. Stephanie Boeke had 12 points against the Sycamores in her freshman season. The scoring output is tied for the third-highest of her career. Nikki Budgake actually made her Butler debut in the contest against Indiana State. She missed the first five contests of the 2002-03 season with a knee injury before the Dec. 7, 2002 match-up with Indiana State. She had one point in nine minutes of action.
QUICK SHOTS: Other career-highs set Wednesday at Eastern Illinois: Lade Akande (four blocks), Carla Gheorghe (12 points), Cassie Freeman (three assists-tie), Ellen Hamilton (four steals) and Stephanie Boeke (four steals)...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...Wednesday's overtime win over Eastern Illinois broke a streak of three straight overtime losses for the Bulldogs. Butler is now 3-5 in overtime contests under Couture.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: The Bulldogs have made at least one three-pointer in 128 straight games, dating back to Feb. 1, 2001...junior Ellen Hamilton has nailed at least one three-pointer in a team-high 11 straight games, dating back to last season. She has hit at least one trey in 52 of her 61 career Butler outings.
WORTHLESS STAT OF THE DAY: Coach Beth Couture made a change in the starting line-up for Wednesday's game, inserting Stephanie Boeke at the small forward spot. It was the first time off the bench for Cassie Freeman this season. The Bulldogs have won two straight games with Freeman coming off the bench (dating back to last season) after going 0-5 the first five times Freeman was a reserve in her Butler career.
BULLDOGS PICKED FIFTH: The Horizon League's head coaches tabbed Butler to finish fifth in the upcoming season, as the preseason poll almost mirrored the final standings from 2004-05. UW-Green Bay was picked to win the league championship.
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.