Feb. 15, 2007
Detroit (4-22, 1-12) at Butler (10-13, 7-4)
Date: Saturday, February 17, 2007
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,757) Indianapolis, Ind.
Tip-Off: The Bulldogs make a brief stop in Indianapolis this weekend when they welcome Detroit to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Feb. 17) for an 8:00 p.m. contest. Butler, 10-13 overall and 7-4 in Horizon League play, sits in a third-place tie with UW-Milwaukee. The Bulldogs hold a 17-31 lifetime mark against the Titans but have claimed wins in five of the last six meetings, including the last three straight.
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 feature live game action on the web at www.ButlerSports.com and are offered for free. Butler also has streaming video available for all home and Horizon League contests during the year.
Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (10-13, 7-4 Horizon League) sits tied for third place in the Horizon League standings after winning five of its last seven league contests. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with over a third (176-of-516) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.7 treys per game ranking eighth in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (14.2 ppg) and Ellen Hamilton (8.0 ppg) have each eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers this season and rank in the top 10 in the Horizon League in three pointers per game. Sophomore center Lade Akande adds a strong inside presence, averaging 14.0 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 5.9 rpg. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an all-around boost with 8.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.7 apg, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a .356 three-point percentage. Candyce Brown and Candace Jones provide depth on the perimeter, while forwards Candace Bain and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (317-196) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.
UIC Slips Past Bulldogs In Chicago: Four players scored in double-figures and Butler led throughout the majority of the game, but host UIC rallied in the final minutes to come away with a 76-70 decision on Feb. 10 at UIC Pavilion. Turnovers and fouls proved to be costly for the Bulldogs, as the Flames turned 21 Butler miscues into 28 points and added 20 more points from the free-throw line. Lade Akande paced the Bulldogs in scoring for the second night in a row, scoring 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, including 13 points in the first half, while Jackie Closser finished with 17 on 4-of-8 shooting from three.
Coming Off The Bench With Authority: Although they didn't get the start, sophomore guard Candace Jones and freshman forward Mel Thornton played like regulars. Jones came just a point shy of her career-high total, notching 16 points on a staggering 6-of-8 shooting from the field while adding four rebounds and three assists. Meanwhile, Thornton hit a career-best 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field and a 4-of-7 mark from the free throw line while pulling in six boards.
National Attention: The Bulldogs are currently listed in the NCAA Division-I Top-50 in three categories. As a team, Butler ranks eighth in Division I with 7.7 three-pointers made per game. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 15.0 turnovers per game, the 28th-lowest mark in the nation. Additionally, senior guard Jackie Closser finds herself mentioned in the national standings, ranking 23rd with 2.6 treys per game.
Numbers Game: The Bulldogs are 5-1 in Horizon League play this year when leading at halftime and are 4-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse when holding an advantage at the break. Free throws and turnovers have also been key, as Butler is 6-2 in league play and 4-1 at home when out-scoring its opponent from the line as well as when committing fewer turnovers.
Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 15.0 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League and 28th-fewest in the nation. Butler also ranks second in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio at 1.0. In fact, the Bulldogs have allowed no more than 14 miscues in seven of their last eight games, while their six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 remains the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.
Double Trouble: Freshman Susan Lester has been nearly unstoppable at times this year, especially of late. In Butler's last six contests, she has averaged 14.3 points and 9.8 rebounds while notching four double-doubles. She has led the Bulldogs in rebounding 11 times this season, and her five double-doubles and 5.9 rebounds per game pace the squad.
The Tara Miller Effect: It might be pure coincidence, but things have turned for the better ever since sophomore guard Tara Miller became eligible to play. Since dropping a closely-contested battle to No. 16 Louisville in Miller's first game, Butler has won eight of its last 13 games and has averaged over 13 points more per game (58.7 to 72.1). The Bulldogs have also taken better care of the basketball since that time, yielding over two fewer per contest (16.4 to 14.1). Miller, meanwhile, has provided a spark in just about every aspect of the game, averaging 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
Keeping it Going: With her four makes from beyond the arc at UIC on Feb. 10, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 51 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only nine shy of the Division I record of 60. However, time is at a premium, as the Bulldogs will need to advance to the NCAA Tournament for Closser to play in enough games to break the mark.
Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler is second in the Horizon League and is eighth in the NCAA with 7.7 three-pointers made per game while ranking second in the league with a .343 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged even more in league games, ranking second with 8.1 per game and third with a .352 percentage.
Closser And Hamilton Lead the Way: Senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton have led the way for the Bulldogs from downtown this season. Closser leads the team and the Horizon League with 2.6 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 1.7 per game for eighth in the conference.
Accuracy Counts: Ellen Hamilton, Jackie Closser and Cassie Freeman have each made the most of their attempts from long distance. Hamilton leads the team and is 10th in the Horizon League with a .367 three-point percentage (40-of-109), while Closser checks in at 11th in the conference at .364 (59-of-162). Freeman, meanwhile, is the only post player ranked among the league's top 15, placing 13th with a .356 percentage (26-of-73).
Jones, Miller and Lester: No, it's not a law firm; it's just an example of how many other options the Bulldogs have for pulling the trigger from three. Sophomore guard Candace Jones has hit 9-of-25 from three for a .360 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 23-of-66 (.348) in just 14 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with a .340 mark (16-of-47).
Akande Brings It From The Paint: It's not all about shooting from long range for the Bulldogs, as sophomore Lade Akande can attest. The 6-1 center is second on the team in scoring with 14.0 points per game despite not taking a single shot from beyond the arc this year. In fact, the Robinson, Ill. native has yet to shoot for three in 49 career games. She currently leads the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .469 field goal percentage.
...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She is fourth in the league with 16.3 points per game and is sixth with a .519 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 6.4 rebounds per league game, the seventh-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.
Moving On Up: After eclipsing 1,000 points in their careers this season, senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton continue to move up the Butler all-time scoring list. Closser currently touts 1,217 points in her career ninth in the Bulldog record books after passing Debbie Benziger (1,214). Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 15th with 1,070 and requires 11 points to move pass Angela Cotton (1,080) for 14th. Closser became the 17th player in school history to reach 1,000 points at Louisville on Dec. 18, while Hamilton became number 18 at Cleveland State on Dec. 28.
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. She is currently third in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 76 of her 91 attempts for a .835 average. Closser has missed only seven shots in Horizon League play this season (48-of-54) and is fourth with an .870 percentage. Her mark includes a perfect 12-of-12 effort from the line at Detroit on Jan. 18.
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 fewer than 35 minutes only three times this year and has played the full 40 minutes in six. She currently leads the Horizon League with 37.1 minutes per game.
...And It Could Be The Most Ever: Jackie Closser has spent a lot of time on the court this season, but she could end up spending more time on the floor than anyone else in Butler history. Closser has played 3,457 minutes in her career, the third-most all-time, and needs only 151 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. At her current clip of 37.1 minutes per game, she is on track to break the record during the final regular season contest against Cleveland State on March 3.
Hamilton Is Right Behind: Ellen Hamilton has been a staple on the floor for the Bulldogs alongside Closser and touts rare figures in terms of minutes played. The senior guard has played 2,926 minutes in her career and ranks 10th on the all-time list.
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 ranks third in the Horizon League with 4.0 assists per game and is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. She also touts 416 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. Fourth place is a ways off, however, as Barb Skinner dished 509 from 1980-83. The school record of 584 was set by Melissa Kilgore from 1985-88.
...While a Lot of Help Goes A Long Way: Butler had a ton of assistance with its shooting against UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27, as every one of the Bulldogs' season-high 31 field goals was assisted on. The 31 assists is the Horizon League's single-game standard for this season, while the 31-on-31 percentage was just one off of the NCAA Division-I single-game record of 32 assists on 32 makes, set by St. Louis in 1986.
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.
At The Buzzer: Butler opens its final road swing of the year through Wisconsin next week, taking on UW-Milwaukee on Thursday (Feb. 22) beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST.