Butler's Closser and Akande Earn Horizon League Postseason Honors
Feb. 27, 2006
Butler junior Jackie Closser and freshman Lade Akande earned spots on the postseason "All-Horizon League" squads, with Closser earning first-team honors, while Akande was tabbed for both the second team and the "All-Newcomer Team." Head coaches, sports information directors and a media member representing each of the nine league schools voted on the awards, which the league office released Monday (Feb. 27).
"This is great recognition for our program as a whole," said Butler coach Beth Couture. "Lade has come in as a freshman this season and had a great season, especially in league play. Jackie continues to be the driving force behind the success of this team. It's great to see hard work and strong play rewarded in such a way."
Closser earned first-team "All-Horizon League" honors after finishing the regular season as the league's leader in assists (5.42 per game), assist/turnover ratio (1.93) and three-point field goals (79, 3.04 per game). Her scoring average of 15.2 points per game is second on the team and ranks fifth in the league, while she also ranks among the league leaders in both free throw percentage (.858, second) and three-point field goal percentage (.401, sixth).
The 5-5 guard from Alexandria, Ind., earned preseason "All-Horizon League" second-team honors before improving that billing on the postseason squad. Her 79 three-pointers made this season broke Closser's own school record of 67 set one year ago and rank as the fifth-best single-season performance in Horizon League history. Earlier this season, Closser also broke Butler's career three-pointers made standard and now has 181 career treys with more than a season remaining in her Bulldog career. Closser ranks among the national leaders in assists and three-pointers this season and was named the Horizon League "Player of the Week" for the week of Dec. 5.
Akande earned a spot on both the Horizon League's second team and its five-member "All-Newcomer Team" after taking the circuit by storm in 2005-06. She leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, while ranking fourth in the league in scoring (15.7 per game) and second in rebounding (8.0 per game). Her 1.33 blocks per game also pace the team and rank third in the conference. Most of Akande's damage has been done against Horizon League opponents, where her average jumps to 18.1 points per game on 53-percent shooting.
The 6-1 post player from Robinson, Ill., earned Horizon League "Player of the Week" honors for the week of Dec. 26. Akande led the Bulldogs in scoring on 11 occasions, posting 20 or more points in 11 contests. The newcomer has scored in double-figures in 10 straight games and 19 of the last 20 contests and 15 of the team's 16 league games. Akande's 423 points this season are the 10th-best single-season mark in Butler history. Closser is the first Bulldog to earn first-team honors since Nancy Bowden following the 2003-04 season. Akande is the fourth Butler player to earn newcomer recognition in the past five seasons.
UW-Green Bay junior forward Nicole Soulis picked up Player of the Year honors, while UW-Milwaukee freshman Traci Edwards and head coach Sandy Botham earned the Horizon League's Newcomer and Coach of the Year awards, respectively.
Joining Closser, Edwards and Soulis on the first team were Nichole Drummond (UW-Milwaukee) and Brittney Whiteside (Wright State). The second team features Akande, Chrissy Dizon and LaShonda Grant (UIC), Marquise Hanser (Loyola) and Natalie Berglin (UW-Green Bay).
Akande and Edwards headline the "All-Newcomer Team" that includes Dominique Butler (Cleveland State), Rachel Porath (UW-Green Bay) and Meredith Onson (UW-Milwaukee).
The final All-League team announced on Monday was the All-Defensive team, which was voted on by the League's nine head coaches. All-Newcomer team selection Butler was selected for the All-Defensive team and was joined by first-team selections Drummond and Whiteside. Second-team honoree Dizon and Rhea Mays (Wright State) round out the defensive squad.
Butler (14-13 overall and 9-7 in Horizon League play) earned a fourth-place finish in the final Horizon League regular season standings. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs will open the 2006 Horizon League Tournament Wednesday, hosting fifth-seeded Detroit at 7 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The quarterfinal match-up is a day earlier than the other three league match-ups because of former president George H. W. Bush speaking in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday.