Women’s basketball: young Bulldog team prepares for season

The women’s basketball season is about to tip off for Butler, and although the team will still be playing in Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Bulldogs will no longer be playing in the Horizon League.

The team finished with 13 victories against 17 losses in its final season in the Horizon League.

This year, Butler will look to improve on this mark as a new member of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

“Everything is going to be new for us,” Butler coach Beth Couture said. “From top to bottom, the league is going to be much more competitive.

“I’m so excited to be in a league like the A-10 where women’s basketball has such rich tradition.”

The Bulldogs will have only four active returning players when they kick off their inaugural A-10 season.

“Everything is new: the players we have, the conference, the locations,” sophomore forward Haley Howard said. “We just don’t really know what to expect, and I think that will be the toughest challenge for sure.”

Junior center Sarah Hamm earned All-Conference honors last season but will miss the entire 2012-13 campaign with a torn ACL.

The squad’s only senior, forward Becca Bornhorst, recently had knee surgery as well and will not play this season.

The loss of Hamm will leave a gap in the Bulldogs’ lineup that will eventually need to be filled.

“We’re going to have to (fill Hamm’s role) by committee,” Couture said. “(Sophomore center Liz) Stratman will be eligible after exams, which will help us when we get in A-10 play.

“But we’re looking at (junior forward Daress) McClung and (sophomore forward Amanda) Raker to really be the leaders early with their experience.”

Stratman, McClung and sophomore guard Taylor Schippers all transferred to Butler within the last year and are expected to contribute this season.

“The transfers play a major role in this year’s team,” junior guard Mandy McDivitt said. “Each of them brings unique experiences from other programs, and each is so talented.”

McClung and Schippers will be able to play from the outset while Stratman will have to wait until mid-December to join in on the action.

With so many new faces on the roster, returning team members will need to figure out new members’ playing styles and how they will fit on the team.

“We have 10 girls that can go out and play very well and be extremely successful,” Howard said. “I see no problems with team chemistry this year at all, especially for having so many new girls at one time.”

Despite going into this season with many variables, Couture said she does have one aspiration for the team.

“When we leave the floor after a game, we want the people that we’ve competed against to say, ‘Wow, they were a tough team, and they played hard and they played together,’” Couture said, “and if we can accomplish that, we’ll have a chance to have some success.”

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