Though the men’s season is just beginning, the women’s basketball season has been underway.
After losing many of their seniors last season, the Bulldogs hope to use their youth as an advantage on the court.
“This season we are younger,” said associate head women’s basketball coach Amy Cherubini. “We lost four of our five starters so I think we have gone back to the basics and have to hit on the fundamentals again.
“This is more of a teaching year. We have great team chemistry so we are hoping that will help out and that we will continue to improve.”
Though the team was plagued with numerous injuries last season, there are many players expected to make an impact on the court .
Terra Burns—Team Leader
Fifth-year senior guard Terra Burns is expected to be Butler’s most prolific scorer.
After suffering numerous injuries and being red shirted last season, Burns comes into this season as a leader and hopes to stay injury-free to help lead the team into the NCAA tournament.
“Getting to the tournament is a big goal this year, especially for me,” Burns said. “Focus is a main thing [the team is] trying to do.
“We are just paying attention to details so we can stay focused on the ultimate goal.”
During last year’s season opener, Burns had 11 points and eight rebounds against Bradley and currently averages 8.5 points per game.
“Had she not been injured, [Burns] would have been one of the best point guards in the league last season,” coach Beth Couture said. “She brings a lot of passion and athletic ability when she plays, so I am excited to have her back this year.”
Couture said Burns is one of the team’s leaders to help the younger players, but Burns said she hopes to earn the team’s respect for reasons other than to have the title of a leader.
“I guess I kind of see myself as a leader,” Burns said. “I think it is more so that the players respect me.
“I might not always be playing my best, but you never have to get on me about doing what I am supposed to do in terms of effort. So I think I have gained their respect because of that. Leadership reflects attitude.”
Sarah Hamm—Prolific Scorer
Sophomore center Sarah Hamm comes into this season also recovering from injuries from the previous season.
Before suffering a torn ACL, Hamm was one of the Horizon League’s blocked shots leaders and had her season-high of 15 points and eight rebounds in the Bulldogs’ double overtime win against Ball State.
Hamm finished the season with a shooting percentage of .522.
Assistant coach Tisha Hill said she thinks Hamm has the ability to repeat last season’s success.
“Our job is to bring [the playing ability] out of her, but ultimately it is all on Sarah,” Hill said. “There is no doubt the ability is there. She is a big threat for us, and if she continues to keep doing what she is doing with her rehab, she will be fine.”
Hamm said though she has the ability, she is still working to improve her play.
“I am really working on defense and trying to be stronger in the paint,” Hamm said. “We have an excellent chance of making the tournament, so in practice I have been working on every aspect of the game.”
Amanda Raker—Rising Star
One of the team’s new faces is freshman forward Amanda Raker. As a senior at Perry Meridian High School, Raker shot 53 percent from the floor and was named Most Valuable Player twice.
“[Raker] is learning every day and has a lot of great skills,” Couture said. “She will definitely be a plus for us down low, and we expect her to play for us a lot in the [center] and [forward] positions.”
Hill added that she also expects Raker to be an asset to the team as she grows during the season.
“She is a very good athlete,” Hill said. “She has some good athletic ability she has shown in individual workouts.
“I think she is going to do some great things for us, especially as she grows offensively, but she has that natural athletic ability that can really help in the paint. She has a good role on our team now and in future years.”
Raker said she is working to learn more techniques and skills through practices with the team.
“It is a lot of learning for me,” Raker said. “I have been learning a lot on defense and offense, but the one big thing for me is rebounding.”
Cherubini said the team’s ultimate goal is just to play better each game and to progress as the season goes on.
“With a young group, we will continue to improve every game,” she said. “After every game and every practice, we just have to walk away thinking we have gotten better that day.”