Butler Opens WBCA Classic With Wake Forest

2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball

WBCA Classic
Butler (2-1) vs. Wake Forest (3-0)
Friday, Nov. 26 - 4 p.m. ET
Joyce Center - Notre Dame, Ind. 

 

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COACH COUTURE INTERVIEW

Bulldogs Open WBCA Classic vs. Wake Forest

The 2-1 Butler women’s basketball team will take on Wake Forest Friday, Nov. 26 in the first of three games at Notre Dame during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. BU will play Wake, IUPUI and Notre Dame at the WBCA Classic Nov. 26-28.

 

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. Butler went 63-32 during the last three seasons.

2. Back-To-Back WNIT Berths: The Bulldogs have played in the postseason in each of the past two seasons, earning the Horizon League’s automatic berth into the WNIT twice. In 2009, BU won 20 games and advanced to the WNIT second round, defeating Duquesne and losing to Marquette. Last season, Butler won 23 games before falling 57-54 at Illinois State in the first round. 

3. Couture During Thanksgiving: This weekend marks the annual occasion when Beth Couture takes her team somewhere during Thankgiving for a challenging stretch. Last November, the Bulldogs played Syracuse and Missouri Valley tourney champ Northern Iowa in Cancun. BU went to New Mexico the Thanksgiving before that. Under Couture, the Bulldogs have spent turkey days in California (twice), Florida (twice) and Alaska.

4. Bowen Closing In On 1,000 Points: Brittany Bowen enters the Wake Forest game with 973 career points, needing 27 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 and now has 1,024 for her career.

5. Butler Wins 2 Straight At Home: Butler bounced back with two home wins last week after opening the season on Nov. 13 with a loss at Bradley. BU controlled the second half in a 69-62 win over Saint Louis on Nov. 17 and then took care of D-II Ohio Dominican 69-50 last Saturday. Butler is 24-6 at home since 2008, including a 9-2 mark against non-conference teams.

 

During The Holiday: Butler has played in two-game events every Thanksgiving since Beth Couture came to Butler in 2002. BU has claimed some important wins during the holiday, including winning the 2004 Saint Louis Thanksgiving Classic. Butler has defeated Chattanooga in 2003, one of only two regular season losses for UTC that year (Tennessee). BU also won at Miami (Fla.) in 2007. Butler is 6-10 in Thanksgiving weekend events since 2002. 

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 advance to the league tourney final. No. 4 seed Cleveland State won the league 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 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 HL in postseason play last year.

Bowen Is Scoring: Brittany Bowen is averaging a team-best 16.7 points this season. The 5-10 senior had a career-high 26 points against Saint Louis on Nov. 17, shooting 8-for-12 from the floor and 8-for-8 at the free throw line. Her previous high was 25, a mark she reached at Miami (Ohio) and at Cincinnati.

First Meeting Since 1993: Friday’s contest will be the first women’s basketball game between BU and WFU since the 1993-94 season. Wake defeated Butler, 74-65, on Nov. 3, 1993 at Northwestern’s Roger White Invitational.

...The Men Met Too: The Butler men’s basketball team defeated Wake Forest in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, 79-63. The Bulldogs led that game 43-10 at halftime. 

Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 130 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 At The Free Throw Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .828 free throw shooter, is off to a great start at the line this season. Bowen is 16-for-16 from the stripe in the season’s three games, including 6-for-6 at Bradley and 8-for-8 against Saint Louis. 

...FT Shooting As A Team: In addition to Bowen’s prowess, the Bulldogs as a team have been solid at the line so far this season. Butler currently stands second in the league in FT shooting at .797, including a 21-for-25 effort at Bradley. Milwaukee (.816) is the league leader.

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. She averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while leading the team in steals and blocks. 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.

Hamm Learning Quickly: Freshman center Sarah Hamm has emerged as an effective interior player. The 6-2 rookie is averaging 7.0 points and 1.7 blocks per game. In her two starts, she is posting 10.5 points and 2.0 rejections per game. She scored 11 points against Saint Louis and added 10 points and six rebounds against Ohio Dominican.

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. 

Chloe Solid At The ‘4’: Chloe Hamilton has had a nice start to her senior year, averaging 12.3 points per game while shooting a team-high .556 from the floor. The 5-10 senior has been a consistent scorer, tallying double figures in each of BU’s three games. She led the team in scoring at Bradley (13) and against Ohio Dominican (14). Hamilton burst into the starting lineup last season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game after playing sparingly her first two seasons. She averaged 8.7 points a game during league play last year.

Burns Doing It All: Terra Burns, Butler’s starting point guard, has been doing a little bit of everything this season. She leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per game (10th in the league) and 5.0 assists per game (2nd in the league). She is also averaging a block per game. The senior missed most of the preseason with a shoulder injury but has been full-go since the season opener on Nov. 13.

Block Party: Not normally a strengh of the team, Butler is currently second in the Horizon League averaging 5.0 blocks per game. BU has three players (Sarah Hamm, Terra Burns, Claire Freeman) among the league’s top 10 in blocks per game. The Bulldogs swatted seven shots against SLU and five against ODU. 

After Halftime, Try Again: After three games, it seems Beth Couture’s halftime speeches make the Bulldogs shoot better. Butler is shooting .465 from the field after halftime, compared to just .323 in the first 20 minutes. BU shot 14 percent in the season’s opening half at Bradley and 39 percent against SLU. The second half shooting was much better against both the Braves (.448) and Billikens (.500).

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. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall.

BU Among Mid-Majors: Butler’s success over the past three seasons has made noise nationally around mid-major women’s basketball. The Bulldogs were picked No. 22 in the first Mid-Major Top 25 poll by CollegeInsider.com. BU has since dropped out of the top 25 but is still receiving votes. Green Bay, after a 3-0 start with wins over two Big Ten teams, has moved to No. 1. Beth Couture and Detroit’s Autumn Rademacher represent the Horizon League on the mid-major poll. 

All ‘O’ Board: Playing just two players taller than 5-10 hasn’t stopped Butler from being aggressive on the offensive boards. BU is averaging 15.3 offensive rebounds a game, second in the league. BU leads the conference in offensive rebounding percentage, hauling in .397 of its missed shots. Butler grabbed 19 offensive rebounds at Bradley, 11 against St. Louis and 16 vs. Ohio Dominican. Brittany Bowen (8), Sarah Hamm (7) and Chloe Hamilton (7) lead the team in offensive rebounds.

Here’s A Stat To Watch: Turnover margin (see page 4). Both Butler (+10.0) and Wake Forest (+14.0) have won the turnover battle this season. Wake’s opponents are committing 29.3 turnovers per game. Butler is only committing 14.3 turnovers per game, and the Bulldogs will need to value the basketball against the Demon Deacons’ pressure. 

X-Factor: Butler playing different lineups. With the team’s versatility, BU has the ability to play small and fast with 5-10 seniors Brittany Bowen and Chloe Hamilton inside. Or, the team can go tall and play Hamilton with 6-2 Sarah Hamm or 6-1 Elizabeth Jennings. The Bulldogs may need to find some mismatches that work in their favor Friday afternoon.  

Up Next: Butler will continue its run in the WBCA Classic Saturday against IUPUI. BU will play take on #16 Notre Dame Sunday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m.