The leaves on the trees on Butler's campus have turned, the air is a bit crisper and the sounds of basketballs are pounding the Hinkle hardwood. It's basketball season at Butler and the BU women's basketball team is off to a fast start during the beginning of practices.
"It's exciting because our players have raised their intensity level and their focus," head coach Beth Couture said. "They are practicing great and looking like a team with higher expectations."
And that is with senior Susan Lester (injury) and freshman Becca Bornhorst (flu) missing the first few days of practice. The Bulldogs got Lester and Bornhorst back Wednesday (Oct. 21) and now the team is at full strength.
"You can notice the difference in our practices with Susan out there," Couture said. "She raises the level of play. And Becca is a great young player we are excited to have here at Butler."
Along with Lester, the team's two other captains - senior Melanie Thornton and junior Terra Burns - have provided the leadership Couture has been looking for in the early moments of the season.
"Mel and Terra have been great helping the young players," she said. "Our three captains are providing the leadership we need to improve this season."
The Bulldogs enter the fall coming off what Couture says is "the best offseason we've had since I've been at Butler." The team put a strong emphasis on getting stronger. Each player was also asked to improve on 2-3 specific aspects of her game, and the results of the hard work are evident early.
"You can tell everyone has improved. Everyone has done what we have asked," Couture said.
COMPETITION IN PRACTICE: Couture says the first few practices have been very competitive. "It's fun for the coaching staff right now because the competition is so high in practice," she said. "We have a winner and a loser in everything we do, and everyone is fighting hard to be a winner."
BLUE-WHITE SCRIMMAGE: Along with the BU men's team, Butler women's basketball will participate in the Blue & White Scrimmage at Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. The women's scrimmage will come after the men, at approximately 10:30 a.m.
PRESEASON RECOGNITION: The Horizon League's women's basketball preseason poll will be released Tuesday, Oct. 27. The preseason All-Horizon League teams will be announced the next day.