Feb. 23, 2007
Butler (12-13, 9-4) at UW-Green Bay (22-3, 13-0)
Date: Saturday, February 24, 2007
Time: 3:00 p.m. CST
Location: Phoenix Sports Center (1,800) Green Bay, Wis.
Tip-Off: Butler, winners in five of its last six contests, goes toe-to-toe with Horizon League-leading No. 23/24 UW-Green Bay on Saturday (Feb. 24) beginning at 3:00 p.m. CST in the Phoenix Sports Center. The third-place Bulldogs (12-13, 9-4 Horizon League) will take on their third nationally-ranked opponent of the year in the Phoenix (22-3, 13-0 HL), who carry a 19-game winning streak into the weekend match-up.
The Last Time We Met: Butler raced out to a lightning-fast start against UW-Green Bay, jumping to as much as a 13-point lead in the early going, but the Phoenix used a steady offensive attack throughout the contest to claim an 81-64 decision over the Bulldogs on Jan. 25 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Long-distance shooting was the name of the game all night long, as the two teams combined for 25 three-pointers, including 17 in the first half. Jackie Closser led the Bulldogs on offense with 16 points coming on 6-of-15 shooting from the field, Susan Lester notched her third-career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Ellen Hamilton added nine points and a career-high eight rebounds.
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 the remaining Horizon League contests.
Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (12-13, 9-4 Horizon League) sits in third place in the Horizon League standings after winning seven of its last nine league contests. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with nearly 35 percent (198-of-568) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.9 treys per game ranking fourth in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (14.0 ppg) and Ellen Hamilton (8.4 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 14.1 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 5.8 rpg. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an all-around boost with 8.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 3.8 apg, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a .346 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 (319-196) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.
Record Long-Range Display Leads Butler Past UWM: A staggering display of long-distance shooting by the Bulldogs overpowered any offensive attempt by UW-Milwaukee, as Butler nailed a school-record 15 treys en route to a 74-59 victory over the host Panthers at the Klotsche Center on Feb. 22. The Bulldogs' performance from beyond the arc topped the previous single-game total of 14 set against UIC on Feb. 12, 2004. Butler finished the game with a 15-for-27 clip from distance for a 55.6 percentage, while the three-point total comprised more than half of the team's 27 total field goals. Susan Lester paced the Bulldogs with 18 points coming on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point, while Ellen Hamilton notched all 15 of her points on 5-of-8 shooting from long range.
Raining Threes: Butler's effort from the three-point arc against the Panthers not only broke the school record but was one of the top performances in the nation this year. The 15 makes is the most in the Horizon League this season and one shy of the league record of 16, set by UW-Green Bay on three occasions. It is also tied with six other teams for the single-game season-high in all of the NCAA Division I.
Speaking Of Three-Point Records: The Bulldogs' record-setting three-point output should be nothing new to Butler assistant coach Amy Cherubini. While playing for Indiana against Ohio State in 1992, Cherubini set the school and Big Ten record for three-pointers by a player in a game with 10. Her mark also reigned as the NCAA D-I standard until 1995.
National Attention: The Bulldogs are currently listed in the NCAA Division-I Top-50 in five categories. As a team, Butler ranks fourth in Division I with 7.9 three-pointers made per game and 40th in three-point percentage at 35.4. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 15.0 turnovers per game, the 27th-lowest mark in the nation. Additionally, senior guard Jackie Closser finds herself mentioned in two categories, ranking in a 25th-place tie with 2.5 treys per game and 38th with an 84.8 free throw percentage.
Just Off The Charts: Ellen Hamilton's team-leading .393 three-point percentage is just short of the NCAA minimum of 2.0 makes per game to qualify for the Division I rankings. If her figures did count, she would rank 33rd.
Numbers Game: The Bulldogs are 7-1 in Horizon League play this year when leading at halftime and are 8-1 when they score more three-pointers than league foes. Free throws and turnovers have also been key, as Butler is 7-2 in league play when out-scoring its opponent from the line and 7-2 when committing fewer turnovers.
Ellen Dials In: Senior co-captain Ellen Hamilton has returned to her strong offensive form in the past two games. After averaging just over four points per game in her last eight contests, including a pair of scoreless affairs, Hamilton regained her stroke against Detroit and UW-Milwaukee, notching 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three against the Titans before draining five treys for 15 points versus the Panthers.
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 the 27th-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 eight of their last 10 games, while their six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 remains the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.
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 10 of its last 15 games and has averaged almost 14 points more per game (58.7 to 72.6). Meanwhile, Butler has gone from being out-scored by nearly 15 points per game to holding a 5.1 point edge on its foes. Miller has provided a spark in just about every aspect of the game during that time, averaging 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Keeping it Going: With her two makes from three-point at UW-Milwaukee on Feb. 22, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 53 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only seven 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 leads the Horizon League and is fourth in the NCAA with 7.9 three-pointers made per game while ranking second in the league with a .354 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged even more in league games, ranking second with 8.5 per game and a .370 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 is tied for the Horizon League lead with 2.5 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 1.9 per game for a sixth-place tie 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 fifth in the Horizon League with a .393 three-point percentage (48-of-122), while Closser checks in at 10th in the conference at .364 (63-of-173). Freeman, meanwhile, is the only post player ranked among the league's top 15, placing 13th with a .346 percentage (27-of-78).
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 11-of-29 from three for a .379 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 26-of-72 (.361) in just 16 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with a .364 mark (20-of-55).
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 leads the team in scoring with 14.1 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 51 career games. She currently leads the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .483 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 16.2 points per game and is fifth with a .535 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 5.9 rebounds per league game, the seventh-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.
Double Trouble: Freshman Susan Lester has been nearly unstoppable at times this year, especially of late. In Butler's last eight contests, she has averaged 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds while notching four double-doubles. She has led the Bulldogs in rebounding 12 times this season, and her five double-doubles and 5.8 rebounds per game pace the squad.
Coming Off The Bench With Authority: Candace Jones and Mel Thornton have provided quite a presence off the bench in the past three games. Jones has averaged 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds during that span, including a season-high 16 points against UIC (Feb. 10). Thornton, meanwhile, has been the top reserve post player, averaging 6.3 points and 6.3 boards while recording career-best 10-point totals in two games.
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 1,239 points in her career and is eighth in the Bulldog record books after passing Liz Skinner (1,224). Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 14th with 1,096 after moving past Angela Cotton (1,080). 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 second in the league and 38th in the nation in free-throw efficiency, netting 84 of her 99 attempts for a .848 average. Closser has missed only seven shots in Horizon League play this season (55-of-62) and is first with an .887 percentage. Her mark includes a perfect 12-for-12 performance 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. In fact, her 30 minutes played at UW-Milwaukee on Feb. 22 is tied for her shortest outing of the season. She currently leads the Horizon League with 36.8 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 3,523 minutes in her career, the third-most all-time, and needs only 84 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. At her current clip of 36.8 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 2,982 minutes in her career for ninth on the all-time list and needs 43 minutes to pass Martha Kondalski for eighth (3,025).
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 fourth in the Horizon League with 4.0 assists per game and is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. She also touts 424 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.
At The Buzzer: The Bulldogs hit the home stretch next week as they return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the final homestand of the regular season when Butler hosts Youngstown State on Thursday (March 1) for a 7:00 p.m. game.