December 17, 2006

Bulldogs Battle No. 16 Louisville On Monday

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Dec. 17, 2006

Game #10
Butler (2-7) at No. 16 Louisville (11-0)

Date: Monday, December 18, 2006
Time :7:00 p.m. EST
Location: Freedom Hall (18,865) Louisville, Ky.

Tip-Off: The Bulldogs take on their second-consecutive nationally-ranked opponent on Monday (Dec. 18) when they battle No. 16 Louisville in Freedom Hall beginning at 7:00 p.m. Butler holds a 2-6 all-time record against the Cardinals, including a 1-3 mark in Louisville. The two teams will be meeting for the first time since Dec. 21, 1999, when the Bulldogs fell, 82-50, at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Milestone Game For Couture: The Bulldogs' contest against the Cardinals on Dec. 18 will be head coach Beth Couture's 500th career game as a collegiate head coach. In 18 seasons at the helm of Presbyterian College (1989-2002) and Butler (2002-present), she has compiled a 309-190 record.

It's Miller Time: Sophomore guard Tara Miller will be eligible to take the floor for the first time this season when the Bulldogs take on Louisville on Dec. 18. The 5-10 Ramsey, Ind. native had to sit out the first part of the season after transferring to Butler from Indiana in the fall of 2005.

Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (2-7) continues to use the three-pointer as their main offensive weapon this season, with over 30 percent (58-of-178) of the Bulldogs' field goals coming from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jackie Closser leads the team with 10.9 points per game, including 13 treys, and senior guard Ellen Hamilton has hit a team-best 21 triples for 10.2 ppg. Junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a three-point threat from the post position, netting 14 triples. Sophomore Lade Akande gives the Bulldogs a strong inside presence at center with 9.9 ppg and 4.0 rebounds per game, while freshman forward Susan Lester has added 7.4 ppg and a team-high 4.3 rpg. Sophomores Candyce Brown and Candace Jones have each added depth on the perimeter, while senior Carla Gheorghe and freshman Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (309-190) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Butler Basketball on the Web: Cory Schnurbusch serves as the play-by-play voice of the Butler women's basketball team for the 2006-07 season. The broadcasts will feature live game action on the web at www.ButlerSports.com and will be offered for free. Butler will also have video streaming available for all home contests during the year.

The Race to 1,000: Jackie Closser (988) closed to within 12 points of becoming the 17th player in school history with 1,000 in her career with her five-point output against No. 10 Purdue on Dec. 10. Fellow guard Ellen Hamilton (977) is right behind after netting 12 points against the Boilermakers and now stands just 23 points shy of 1,000.

No. 10 Purdue Takes Care Of Bulldogs: Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton paced three scorers in double-figures and the Boilermakers shot 53.3 percent from the field as No. 10 Purdue ran past the Bulldogs, 81-38, at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday (Dec. 10) afternoon.

Holiday Vacation: The Bulldogs will be spending quite a bit of time on a bus and in hotel rooms for the next month, as Butler takes to the road for their next five contests. After making non-conference stops against Louisville (Dec. 18) and Tennessee State (Dec. 20), the Bulldogs open up the Horizon League slate at Cleveland State (Dec. 28) before heading to Youngstown State (Dec. 30) and finishing the swing at Wright State (Jan. 6). Butler returns to Indianapolis on Jan. 11 to host UIC.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs continue to turn to the three-pointer to power their offense this season. Butler ranks third in the Horizon League with 6.4 three-pointers made per game after leading the conference and ranking fifth in the NCAA in triples last season.

Hamilton Leads the Way: Senior Ellen Hamilton has been a major factor in the Bulldogs' success from downtown this season, leading the squad with 21 three-pointers and ranking second in the Horizon League with 2.3 triples per game.

...And Freeman Makes The Most Of Her Shots: Junior Cassie Freeman has taken advantage of just about every opportunity she has from behind the arc, going 14-of-26 for three and leading the Horizon League with a .538 three-point percentage.

Closser, Jones and Lester: No, it's not a law firm, it's just an example of how many options the Bulldogs have for pulling the trigger from three. Guard Jackie Closser, Butler's all-time record-holder with 199 three-pointers made, touts 13 treys on the season, while fellow guard Candace Jones has hit 5-of-13 from three for a .385 shooting percentage. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with four treys of her own.

One-For-One: Freshman forward Mel Thornton relies more on her ability to score on the post than she does from the perimeter, but that doesn't mean she can't hit shots from downtown. After not taking a single three-point attempt in the first eight games of her career, Thornton launched her first - and so far only - attempt for three and connected with 7:21 left against Purdue on Dec. 10.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 16.4 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League, and also rank third in assists-to-turnovers ratio at 0.8. Butler's six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 is also the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.

Taking Advantage of Charity: It's not as if Jackie Closser is asking to go to the free throw line, but, when she does, she makes opponents pay. The senior guard is currently fifth in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 25 of her 32 attempts for a .781 average.

Under the Radar: You won't find her in the Horizon League rankings, but sophomore guard Candace Jones has been even stronger than Closser from the free-throw line. Jones has converted on 14-of-16 shots from the stripe to lead the team with a .875 free-throw percentage, but she does not qualify for the league standings because her mark falls just below the league minimum of two makes per game. If her figures did count, however, Jones would be tops in the conference standings.

Adding To Her Repertoire: Sophomore center Lade Akande has always been a presence in the paint for the Bulldogs, but she has just recently become a threat from the free throw line. In the Bulldogs' last two games, Akande has converted 13 of her 18 attempts from the charity stripe for a .722 percentage while tying her career-high for makes with nine against Evansville on Dec. 6. In her first five games, she was just 6-of-20 (.300) on the year.

Keeping it Going: With her single three-pointer against Purdue on Dec. 10, Jackie Closser extended her consecutive games with a three-pointer to 37 straight. So far this season, she is 13-of-66 from beyond the arc and leads the team with 10.9 points per game. She made sure that every opponent got to feel her wrath from three-point last season, connecting from downtown in all 28 of her games played in 2005-06.

Block Party: The Bulldogs are one of the top blocking teams in the Horizon League this year, ranking second with 3.3 blocks per game. Three Butler players also find themselves among the top 15 in the conference, with sophomore Lade Akande (1.3 blocks per game) leading the league, freshman Mel Thornton (1.0) tied for fourth and junior Cassie Freeman (0.6) tied for 11th.

A Little Bit Of Help: Jackie Closser has been extremely helpful to the Bulldogs on offense this season and during her career. The senior guard leads the team with 42 assists on the year and is second in the Horizon League with 4.7 assists per game. She also touts 365 assists in her career, the sixth-most in school history, and is just 17 behind Jennifer Marlow's fifth-place total of 382. The school record of 584 is held by Melissa Kilgore.

...And A Big Help All At Once: Closser's 11 assists against Bradley on Nov. 17 were a career-high for the 5-5 guard and is a Horizon League season-high.

Minute Minder: Jackie Closser must really enjoy time-outs, because she doesn't get too many other opportunities to catch her breath. The senior guard has played the full 40 minutes in five of nine games this season and has played no fewer than 37 minutes in any contest. She currently leads the team and the Horizon League with 39.0 minutes per game. Senior Ellen Hamilton also finds herself among the league leaders, averaging 30.2 minutes per game for 14th place.

Doubling-Up: Senior Jackie Closser and freshman Susan Lester have each registered double-doubles this season. Closser scored the first against Bradley on Nov. 17, scoring 14 points and dishing 11 assists in the game. Lester followed just over a week later against Ohio on Nov. 26, scoring a season-best 24 points and 12 rebounds against the Bobcats.

Feeling A Little Rejected: You really couldn't blame Air Force if they felt a little intimidated by the Bulldogs in their game on Nov. 22. That's because Butler notched 11 blocks in the contest, the highest single-game total in the Horizon League this season. Six players contributed at least once, with junior Cassie Freeman touting a career-best and league-high four. Additionally, freshmen Julie Seiss (1) and Mel Thornton (2) picked up their first career put-backs.

Hamilton Earns All-Tournament Honors: After putting together a strong offensive effort in Butler's two Great Alaska Shootout games, senior guard Ellen Hamilton was tabbed to the All-Tournament Team. She was one of six players recognized in the tournament after combining for 28 points in the two games, including a Butler-best 17 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting against UC Riverside in the Bulldogs' tournament opener. She also was a key contributor in Butler's rally against Air Force, finishing with 11 points.

Butler Inks Quartet For 2007: High school stand-outs Azjah Bass, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Jenny Ostrom have all signed national letters of intent to attend Butler and play basketball beginning in the fall of 2007. All four have earned all-state accolades and are either approaching or have surpassed 1,000 points in their careers.

Lending A Helping Hand: The Butler women's basketball team took time out of their busy schedule on Nov. 4 to assist at the Special Olympics Area 8 Bowling Championships at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. Members of the team and coaching staff helped out as lane assistants, runners and scorers for the event and presented the awards to the winners. Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities.

Bulldogs Tabbed Third: The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Horizon League this season in a poll of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media. Butler tallied 192 points in the poll, including one first-place vote, and finished just six points behind second-place UW-Milwaukee (198). UW-Green Bay was selected to win the regular season title, receiving 234 points and 22 of the 27 voters' first-place ballots.

At The Buzzer: Butler moves on to Nashville, Tenn. on Dec. 20 when they take on Tennessee State beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST.