2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball
The Butler women’s basketball team begins its quest for a championship Saturday, Nov. 13 at Bradley. The Bulldogs return 10 letterwinners from one of the best teams in school history, a 23-10 squad that finished second in the Horizon League and advanced to the WNIT.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. 3 Straight 20s: Butler has won 20 games in each of the past three seasons, the first time the team has achieved that as a Division I program. The Bulldogs went 20-10 in 2007-08 and followed that with a 20-12 season in 2008-09. Last year’s mark of 23-10 was the team’s most wins since the 1997-98 Bulldogs went 25-6 under June Olkowski.
2. Butler Returns 4 Starters: Four primary starters return from last year’s 23-10 team - seniors Terra Burns (6.6 ppg), Brittany Bowen (11.2) and Chloe Hamilton (7.4 ppg) and junior Devin Brierly (4.0 ppg). Sophomore guard Claire Freeman started 15 times last season and senior Alyssa Pittman started seven games.
3. Homecoming For TB: Butler scheduled Saturday’s game at Bradley in order to get senior captain Terra Burns a game in her hometown. Burns has been BU’s starting point guard for the past two seasons. This will be her second season as captain. Burns attended Peoria High School, just 1.5 miles from Bradley’s campus. She was a two-time team MVP at PHS and averaged 18 points per game as a senior in 2006-07.
4. New Names In The Post: This season, Butler is served with the task of replacing two of the best post players the team has had in 2010 grads Melanie Thornton and Susan Lester. Thornton was Horizon League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year last season, averaging 15.7 points per game. Lester finished her career with 1,275 points and 781 rebounds. Senior forward Chloe Hamilton and several young players - Becca Bornhorst, Sarah Hamm, Dragana Grbic - will be counted on for production in the post.
5. Bowen Closing In On 1,000 Points: Brittany Bowen enters the season with 923 career points, needing 77 more to become the 21st player to score 1,000 points at Butler. Additionally, Alyssa Pittman crossed the 1,000-point mark late last season. She scored 715 points in her two seasons at Eastern Michigan.
36th Season Of Hoops: The 2010-11 season is Butler’s 36th as a varsity program. BU is 507-405 (.556) all-time, including a 128-113 mark under ninth-year head coach Beth Couture.
Bulldogs Finish Second: Butler placed second in both the Horizon League regular season and the league tournament last year. After going 14-4 and finishing one game behind champion Green Bay, BU defeated Wright State and Detroit to get to the league tourney final. No. 4 seed Cleveland State knocked off the Bulldogs, 66-57, in the championship game.
Three 09-10 Postseason Teams: After CSU’s run of upsets got them into the NCAA tourney, Green Bay appeared to have an automatic WNIT bid but was awarded an NCAA at-large bid. It was the first NCAA at-large bid in Horizon League history. That gave the league’s automatic WNIT spot to the Bulldogs, making it three teams from the Horizon League in postseason play.
Butler vs. Bradley: Beth Couture will be opening her ninth season at BU the same as she did her first - by playing at Bradley. The Bulldogs lost Couture’s first game in 2002 but are 4-1 all-time against the Braves, including a 3-1 mark under Couture. Butler has defeated Bradley by double digits in each of the last three meetings.
Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 128 victories at Butler, sits alone atop BU’s all-time women’s basketball wins list. Couture last season passed Linda Mason, who coached at BU from 1976-84 and won 124 games. The record-breaking victory came at UIC on March 4 of last season.
Bowen Back: Butler’s returning leading scorer is senior Brittany Bowen, who averaged 11.2 points per game last season. Bowen had 19 double-digit efforts, including a season-high 25 points at Cincinnati last December. She led the team in scoring six times last season and is a preseason second team All-Horizon League pick for the second straight year.
Life After Mel: Butler is charged with the task of replacing the 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year in Melanie Thornton. Last season, the 6-1 Thornton ranked in the top 6 in the Horizon League in seven different categories (see page 4). Thornton had at least 10 points in 25 of her last 27 games, while leading the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. Thornton had 12 double-doubles and was also named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
Conference Wins Record: In each of the past two seasons, Butler has set a school record with 14 league victories. The Bulldogs have posted back-to-back 14-4 conference seasons and are 49-21 (.700) in league play over the last four seasons.
Exhibition - Butler 80, Hillsdale 66 (Nov. 7)
Senior Brittany Bowen had 18 points, 10 rebounds and three steals and the Butler women’s basketball team got its first look at the new season in an 80-66 exhibition win over Hillsdale Sunday afternoon. Senior Chloe Hamilton scored 12 points for the Bulldogs, and freshman Sarah Hamm added 11.
Butler built a 43-29 halftime lead and withstood a rally by Hillsdale to lead by 19 late in the game. Shortly after halftime, the Chargers cut BU’s lead to 45-39 but the Bulldogs answered with a 12-3 run to go up 57-42 with 10:52 left. A lay-up by Hamm gave the Bulldogs a 75-56 lead with 4:41, and Butler cruised to the final buzzer.
Butler had a 35-27 rebounding edge and forced 26 turnovers in the win. BU shot 46 percent, including a 13-for-26 effort in the first half. Hillsdale kept the game close with long-range shooting, making eight 3-pointers.
Junior Devin Brierly chipped in 10 points and senior Alyssa Pittman had nine points and four steals for the Dawgs. Hillsdale’s Lea Jones scored 13 points before fouling out. Two other Charger players had 12 points.
Bulldogs Add 4 Local Standouts In Early Signing Period
The Butler women’s basketball program has added four local standouts during the early signing period. Hannah Douglas, Haley Howard, Jessika Lark and Amanda Raker have signed National Letters of Intent and will join the Bulldogs in the fall of 2011.
Douglas is a 5-9 guard who averaged 13.0 points and 4.5 rebounds a game last year at Pendleton Heights High School. She was named Anderson Herald Bulletin Player of the Year last season after sharing the honor with a teammate in 2009. The 5-9 guard was an Indiana Junior All-Star last spring and was recently named one of the top seniors in the greater Indianapolis area by the Indy Star.
Howard is a 6-0 wing player who averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds last season while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 83 percent at the free throw line for Whiteland High School. She was an Indiana Junior All-Star last year while being named first team all-conference and all-county. She was also on the state’s Top 100 list. Howard has been an All-Johnson County honoree in each of her three seasons and All-Mid State Conference during the past two years. Her high school coach at Whiteland is Bill Hogue.
Lark is an athletic forward attending Pendleton Heights this year after transferring from Anderson Highland High School. Coach Couture says the 5-9 Lark is a well-coached player whose game resembles that of current Bulldog senior Chloe Hamilton.
Raker is a 6-0 forward from Perry Meridian High School on Indy’s south side. She averaged 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds during her junior season, capturing all-county and all-conference honors. Raker, who played in the Indiana Junior All-Star Classic, has been a three-year starter for the Falcons for coach Mike Armstrong. She led her AAU team, Indiana Explosion, to a title at one of the nation’s top summer events, the Deep South Tournament at the University of North Carolina. Her AAU team was coached by Lee Larkins. Raker is also a volleyball standout, having been named IVCA All-State this fall. Academically, she’s in the top 11 percent of her class and is on the A Honor Roll at Perry Meridian. Her father, Gary Raker, played men’s basketball at Butler from 1978-80.
BU Among Mid-Majors: Butler’s success over the past three seasons has made noise nationally around mid-major women’s basketball. The Bulldogs have been picked No. 22 in the first Mid-Major Top 25 poll by CollegeInsider.com. League rival Green Bay was ranked second in the poll, while Gonzaga was voted the top team. Beth Couture and Detroit’s Autumn Rademacher represent the Horizon League on the mid-major poll.
Sue One Of Only 3: Graduated senior Susan Lester has put her name among Butler’s all-time greats. She finished her career 10th in scoring and 4th in rebounding in school history. Lester was one of three players in BU history with 1,200 points, 700 rebounds and 150 steals in her career. Beth Piepenbrink (1979-83) and Elza Purvlicis (1980-84) are the other two.
Start Me Up: Butler was 18-4 last season when Devin Brierly started. She has started the season’s last 18 games (14-4) as well as four non-conference wins. BU was also 12-3 when Claire Freeman started.
Couture’s Cause: In April 2009, Beth Couture was diagnosed with breast cancer. She finished treatments and radiation at a fast pace, just in time to return to the sideline for last season’s opener. Couture is now cancer-free and an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness.
Common Opponents: Last season, Bradley and Butler played six common opponents this season: Evansville, Indiana State, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, Saint Louis and UIC. The Braves went 6-5 against those teams while the Bulldogs went 5-2.
BU vs. The MVC: Butler is 6-3 against Missouri Valley Conference opponents over the past three seasons, including a 56-46 win over Bradley in 2007. BU is 3-0 against Evansville and 2-1 against Indiana State. The Bulldogs dropped close games to MVC tourney champ Northern Iowa and regular season champ Illinois State last season.
X-Factor: Long-range shooting. In 23 wins last season, Butler shot .356 from 3-point range. In the team’s 10 losses, the Bulldogs shot just .213. If Butler can shoot a successful 3-point percentage in Bradley’s new gym, Butler may be able to spread the floor against the Braves’ defense.