Senior Caroline Strande led Butler with 90 defensive rebounds last season. Photo by Claire Runkel.
SAM CARUS | SPORTS REPORTER | email@example.com
1) The Bulldogs will finish .500 this season
This does not sound like that bold of a prediction, but it would be a big improvement for the team. Butler won 11 games in 2022-23. In each of the prior two seasons before head coach Austin Parkinson arrived, Butler had just four wins combined. Parkinson made an immediate impact last year in his first season as coach and completely reshaped the Butler roster. With three first-year recruits and the addition of talented transfers, this is the most skilled team Butler fans have seen in some time. Parkinson only finished under .500 three times in his 12 years at IUPUI, so it seems that Parkinson has his team ready to take the leap this season.
2) Butler will upset the UConn Huskies
Butler has not beaten UConn in their five matchups in the program’s history. Head coach Geno Auriemma and the University of Connecticut Huskies are synonymous with NCAA women’s basketball, as they have been a powerhouse in college basketball since Auriemma won his first national championship in 1989. Last year the Bulldogs lost to the Huskies 80-47 in Hinkle Fieldhouse and 79-39 at Connecticut. Butler showed fight in the game at home, most notably only losing the second and third quarters by a combined three points. With a more balanced roster, including grad transfer guard Rachel Kent, the Bulldogs have a chance to catch magic and upset the powerhouse Huskies.
3) Rachel Kent will make the All-Big East First Team
Kent played her first two collegiate seasons at St. Louis University and the next two at IUPUI. With a year of eligibility remaining, Parkinson and Kent reunite after her transfer to Butler. For the Jaguars last year, Kent averaged 12.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists while making the Horizon All-Conference Team. Kent will provide necessary three-point shooting for the Bulldogs and will have the chance to show off her talents to the Big East. Kent is a pure scorer as she hit double figures in 22 games last year, including four double-doubles. Look for her to be both a star and a leader for the Bulldogs, and carry them to some big wins.
4) Austin Parkinson wins Big East Coach of the Year
Parkinson has two Horizon Conference Coach of the Year wins on his resume from his tenure with the IUPUI Jaguars, and there is no reason why he can’t do it again here at Butler. Parkinson turned the Jaguars around and made them a consistent force in the Horizon League in his 12 seasons as head coach. After records of 4-24 and 13-19 in his first two seasons at IUPUI, Parkinson crafted back-to-back 20-win seasons, and overall the team won at least 20 games eight times. Parkinson elevated Butler’s win total by 10 in his first year, and if he compounds that success by guiding the Bulldogs to their first .500 mark since 2019, he would be squarely in the running for the Big East Coach of the Year.
5) The Bulldogs win the Big East Tournament and clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament
Every year there is a magical run in a conference tournament. In 2021, the eighth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas made a charmed run to win the Big East Tournament and make the NCAA Tournament. With the experience of returning players Anna Mortag, Shay Fredrick and 30-game-starter Sydney Jaynes, the Bulldogs have the pieces in place to make a run. Though the Bulldogs have only made the NCAA Tournament once in their program history, this team has a coach who knows what it takes. Parkinson did so with IUPUI and knows what it takes to get into the tournament and make history for the Bulldogs.
Preseason awards by the Collegian:
Ahead of the 2023-24 season, a few players have already demonstrated a standout role on the women’s basketball team.
Most underrated Bulldog: Jordan Meulemans
Meulemans is entering her junior season for the Bulldogs and was a consistent rotation player her first two years. Meulemans does it all and sometimes does not get noticed on the stat sheet. Last year she averaged 4.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists all while playing lockdown defense. Every good team in college basketball needs a selfless player like Meulemans.
First year of the year: Karsyn Norman
Norman was a 2023 Indiana All-Star from North Lawrence High School. Norman is a proven scorer, averaging 15 points per game as just a junior in high school. She is a speedy point guard who will also be able to open up the floor for the Bulldogs with her great three-point shot.
Leader of the Dawgs: Kendall Wingler
Wingler provides much-needed experience as one of just two seniors on this young team. Wingler is a do-it-all forward who ended last year with 88 points, 32 rebounds and nine steals. Wingler averaged a state-best 30 points per game in her senior high school season, and after playing two years at Eastern Kentucky is now a leader for the Bulldogs.