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Friday, Nov. 14, 2008 – 7 p.m. ET
Value City Arena – Columbus, Ohio

No. 18/19 Ohio State (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Butler (0-0, 0-0 Horizon)

Radio/Internet – WOSU 820-AM/www.wosu.org
P-by-P: Marty Bannister; Analyst: Kristin Watt

Television – BigTenNetwork.com 

The Tip
No. 18/19 Ohio State tips off the 2008-09 season Friday against the Butler Bulldogs at Value City Arena in the season opener for both teams. This is the first meeting between Ohio State and Butler on the hardwood.

Scouting Butler
Butler returns all five starters from a team that went 20-10 last season and finished fourth in the Horizon League with a 10-8 mark. The Bulldogs were tabbed to finish fifth in the preseason Horizon League poll. 

Butler is led by senior center Lade Akande and junior forward Susan Lester, both of whom were named to the preseason All-Horizon League first and second teams, respectively.

Akande is the team’s active leader in points (1,360), rebounds (573), blocks (111), steals (105) and minutes played (2,382). A three-time All-Horizon League honoree, she has notched 14 double-doubles in her career. She finished the 2007-08 campaign ranked fourth in the Horizon League with 16.1 points per game and sixth with 6.4 rebounds per contest.

Lester finished last season second in the league in rebounding with 7.3 boards per contest and ranked in the Top 10 in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage.

Beth Couture is beginning her seventh year as head coach with an 85-91 record at Butler and is 343-208 overall in 19 seasons.

Lavender Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year; Buckeyes and Boilers Picked to Win Big Ten
Sophomore center Jantel Lavender was selected as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year by the conference coaches and a panel of media members at this year’s Big Ten media days. Lavender’s Buckeyes were selected to finish first in conference by the media, while the coaches voted Purdue at the top of the preseason rankings.

Lavender became the first player in Big Ten men’s or women’s basketball history to be named conference Player of the Year as a freshman last season when she was given the nod by the conference coaches. The 6-4 center became the first freshman in history to lead the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 9.7 boards per conference contest. Lavender also finished the 18-game slate with 17.8 points per contest, finishing third in the Big Ten.

Led by the sophomore center, Ohio State was selected by a panel of conference media members to earn its fifth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes were Big Ten Co-Champions in 2007-08, finishing 13-5 in conference and 22-9 overall, earning their sixth consecutive berth into the NCAA Championship. Ohio State looks to become the first team since the 1983-87 Buckeyes to win at least a share of five consecutive Big Ten titles.

The conference coaches selected Purdue to take this year’s conference title as the Boilermakers return four starters from last season, plus seniors Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Jodi Howell, who started for Purdue in 2006-07 but missed 2007-08 due to injury. Wisdom-Hylton was an honorable mention All-American and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and is a member of this year’s Preseason All-Big Ten team.

Michigan State was tabbed as the No. 3 finisher in both polls after finishing last season with a Big Ten-best 23 wins.

PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM (Coaches & Media)
Jenna Smith, Jr., F, ILL
Allyssa DeHaan, Jr., C, MSU
Emily Fox, Sr., G, MINN
Jantel Lavender, So., C, OSU
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, Sr., F, PUR

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Coaches & Media)
Jantel Lavender, So., C, OSU

Ohio State in Openers
The Buckeyes have won their last 13 regular-season openers and have not lost and opener since 1994. Ohio State is 33-10 all-time in season openers.

Season Preview
Under the direction of seventh-year head coach Jim Foster, the Buckeyes have won 109 games during the last four seasons and have gone 65-3 at home during that stretch. And with four starters returning that includes the reigning Big Ten defensive and player of the year, a record-tying fifth-consecutive conference championship will be the goal once again in a much-improved and experienced Big Ten.

But the Buckeyes have loftier goals on top of winning the Big Ten. Not only do the Buckeyes want to shed those NCAA tournament demons, coach Foster will continue his transition to become more face-paced, up and down team that puts points on the board in hurry while continuing his tenacious, in-your-face style of defense.

And if last season was any indication, Buckeye fans are in for a treat during the next three years.

Highlighting the list of returnees is sophomore sensation Jantel Lavender, who enjoyed the finest season by a Buckeye freshman since Katie Smith in 1993. The 6-4 center from Cleveland Central Catholic put up 17.6 points per game her freshman season and shot over 51 percent to earn Big Ten freshman and co-player of the year honors. Lavender played like a seasoned veteran in her rookie season, scoring sometimes at will and controlling the glass with a Big Ten-best 9.9 caroms per game. She also was named honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press for her efforts and finishing as the second-leading freshman scorer and third-leading freshman rebounder in the country.

Leading the way in the backcourt and on the defensive side of the ball is 2008 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Shavelle Little, who led the team and the Big Ten with 79 steals last season. The Buckeyes’ point guard complemented her defensive performance last season with her ability to distribute the basketball, finishing second on the team with 81 assists for an average of 2.61 assists per game.

After sitting out last winter quarter to focus on academics, senior veteran Star Allen is back for the Buckeyes at the forward spot after earning second-team All-Big Ten honors her sophomore season. Having Allen back will be an added bonus for the Buckeyes with her versatility and athleticism up front.

Rounding out the returning starters from last year’s team is senior guard Ashlee Trebilcock. The senior from Boise, Idaho, is entering her second season as a starter for the Buckeyes after averaging 9.6 points per game last season.

Also back this season is a group of six veteran players, including three juniors and three sophomores. This young, yet experienced group will bring fresh legs to the floor off the bench and will prove to be much needed contributors for the Buckeyes.

Maria Moeller has proved her ability to start and come off the bench in her first two years and made significant strides as a jump shooter in her sophomore campaign. She connected on 50 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc last season. 

Junior center Andrea Walker sat out the first 10 games of last due to a foot injury, but she’s healthy this time around and will give Ohio State a nice 1-2 punch inside with Lavender when the two share the court at the same time. The 6-5 center shot 48.9 percent from the field last year and will give the Buckeyes another shot-blocking threat that will help keep opposing team’s guards out of the paint.

Junior Cherise Daniel saw action in 13 games in 2007-08 and showed steady improvement her sophomore season and should contend for more playing time this year.

Sophomore Brittany Johnson will look to show the kind of athleticism she displayed as the player of the year in Illinois two seasons ago now with a full year under her belt. She has tremendous speed and quickness to complement her range as a jump shooter. She was one of the first guards to come off the bench last season and played in all 31 games as a true freshman.

Classmate Alison Jackson is another one of Ohio State’s 10 letterwinners returning. The sophomore guard from Chicago saw an increase in her playing time as the season wore on and put up a career-high 11 points on the road at Northwestern last season.

Sophomore forward Sarah Schulze came off the bench in 17 games as a freshman and played with poise and confidence towards the end of the year. The Anna, Ohio, native came off the bench at Purdue last season to help spark a comeback with her rebounding, defense and hustle. She also poses a threat from deep and can play the 3 or 4 position.

The Buckeyes recruiting class consists of just two new faces. One of them is McDonald’s High School All-American Samantha Prahalis who should challenge for the starting point guard position. Prahalis, a member of USA Basketball’s U-18 team this past summer, was a dominant player in the New York-Long Island area. She averaged 30.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.9 assists for Commack High School and was New York Player of the Year her senior year. She also was named a 2008 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American and the Gatorade Player of the Year in New York.

The second member of the class is Amber Stokes, who is the daughter of former Ohio State men’s basketball player and current color analyst Ron Stokes. Stokes is currently nursing a shoulder injury suffered Nov. 2 and is expected to miss 10 weeks. During her senior year at Gahanna Lincoln High School, Stokes averaged 20.2 points, 4.3 assists and 3.1 steals and was a 2008 McDonald’s All-American nominee. Her impressive play earned her first team All-Central District honors and was a third-team All-Ohio selection. Stokes will bring another dimension to Ohio State on both ends of the floor with her quickness and athleticism that made her a standout track and field athlete at Lincoln.

Lavender Named to Women’s Wooden Award Watch List 
Sophomore center Jantel Lavender, the reigning Big Ten co-Player of the Year as a freshman in 2008, was one of 30 players named to the Women’s Wooden Award All-America Team and Player of the Year watch list Nov. 6.

Lavender also was named to the list last year at midseason because freshman, transfers and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. She was the first Ohio State freshman to be named to the midseason list.

In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Women’s Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round during the NCAA Tournament.

Did You Know?
Ohio State owns the seventh-best winning percentage (.838) and has the ninth-most wins (109) in all of women’s basketball during the last four years.
Ohio State has had four Big Ten Player of the Year selections the last four seasons.
The Buckeyes have been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 80-consecutive weeks.
OSU owns the most Big Ten titles with 11.
Ohio Sate has won 76-consecutive games at home against unranked opponents.
Ohio State is 65-3 at home during the last four seasons.

Foster, NCAA and the Buckeyes
Jim Foster is no stranger to NCAA action, having now advanced to the tournament 22 times in his last 24 years of coaching at St. Joseph’s (Pa.), Vanderbilt and Ohio State. In Foster’s first six seasons at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have earned No. 1 (2006), No. 2 (2005), No. 4 (2003, 2007) and No. 6 (2004, 2008) seeds in the NCAA tournament and have upped their overall appearance total to 17. Ohio State has earned at least a second-round finish in four of five seasons under Foster, including a trip to the Round of 16 in 2005.

Not In Our House
The Buckeyes have won 76-consecutive games at home against unranked opponents. The last unranked team to win in Columbus was Penn State, Feb. 3, 2002.

Big Ten Domination
Ohio State has won 63 of its last 72 (.875) Big Ten regular-season games. The Buckeyes won the last six games of the 2003-04 season, went 14-2 in 2004-05, 15-1 in 2006 and 2007 and went 13-5 during the expanded 18-game conference schedule last season.

OSU Tough at Home Under Foster
Over the past three-plus seasons, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 65-3 record at home and a 58-2 record at Value City Arena (7-1 at St. John Arena). The Buckeyes have posted two perfect home records under head coach Jim Foster, going 14-0 in his first year in 2002-03 and 17-0 in 2004-05.
Buckeyes at Home in the Foster Era: 92-7
2002-03 14-0
2003-04 13-4
2004-05 17-0
2005-06 16-1
2006-07 16-1
2007-08 16-1

Foster Picks Up Win No. 650
Head coach Jim Foster, the ninth-winningest active coach in Division I, earned his 650th career win with an 89-53 victory over Penn State Jan. 28. In doing so, he became just the 13th Division I women’s basketball coach to win at least 650 games. Foster, who coached Vanderbilt to the 1993 Final Four, finished his 30th year as a collegiate coach last season with stops at St. Joseph’s (1979-91) and Vanderbilt (1992-2002) along the way. Two seasons ago, he became the 15th fastest D-I women’s coach to reach 600 wins. He is tied for eighth all-time with 22 20-win seasons.

Buckeyes Boast Trio of McDonald’s All-Americans
Ohio State has three McDonald’s High School All-Americans on its 2008-09 roster. Jantel Lavender and Alison Jackson played in the 2007 contest in St. Louis while freshman Samantha Prahalis played in the 2008 game in Milwaukee.

Former Buckeye Katie Smith Wins Third Gold Medal, WNBA Finals MVP
Two-time Ohio State All-American Katie Smith had a summer to remember. Smith was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 WNBA Finals after averaging more than 20 points per game in a three-game sweep of San Antonio, marking Katie’s second WNBA title in three seasons. In Game 1 Katie scored a playoff career-high 25 points and followed that up with 22 points in game two. In Game 3 Smith scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half as the Shock built an 18-point lead and cruised to its third WNBA title in six seasons.

Then this past August, Smith captured Olympic gold for a third time at the 2008 Games in Beijing as Team USA went 8-0, defeating their opponents by an average of 37 points to earn their fourth-consecutive gold medal.

Smith still holds eight Ohio State career records, is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and is the all-time leading scorer in the history of U.S. women’s professional basketball with more than 6,600 points.

Foster Records Ninth-Consecutive 20-Win Season
The win over Iowa at home last season gave Ohio State its sixth-consecutive 20-win season. It marked the 22nd of coach Foster’s career, his ninth-consecutive overall and his sixth at Ohio State, tying Nancy Darsch who had six in 12 years as OSU head coach from 1985-97. Foster has done it each year at OSU since his first season in 2002-03, including a 30-win season in 2004-05.

Foster Inks Two Top Ohio Recruits 
Ohio State head coach Jim Foster announced the signing of two highly-touted Ohio recruits to National Letters of Intent Nov. 12. Among the two-member class are local product Emilee Harmon, a 6-foot, 2-inch forward from Pickerington Central and Brianna Sanders, a 5-foot, 11-inch guard from Princeton High School in Cincinnati.

Harmon, an ESPN Top 100 recruit and one of the Top 5 prospects in the state, is a two-time first-team all-state honoree and two-time OCC Player of the Year. As a junior in 2008 she averaged 18.8 points and more than seven rebounds per game as Pickerington Central went 21-4 and finished No. 12 in the Associated Press poll. Harmon, a versatile player who can play the wing or on the block, was one of only three underclassmen invited to USA Basketball’s U18 Team Olympic Training Camp this past summer.

Sanders is ranked the 14th best prospect in Ohio by ESPN Hoopgurlz. Sanders missed half of her junior season recovering from a torn ACL, but still took home second-team all-conference honors last season. As a sophomore at Princeton Sanders averaged 14.5 points while grabbing 5.0 rebounds and dishing out 5.0 assists. Before suffering her injury, Sanders was rated the No. 1 prospect in Ohio during her freshman and sophomore seasons for the Class of 2009 by the Ohio Girls Basketball Report and the 10th best prospect in the country by All-Star Girls Report as a sophomore.

Tickets On Sale Now for NCAA First and Second Rounds in Columbus
The Ohio State University is proud to be hosting the First and Second Rounds of the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 21 and 23 at Nationwide Arena. All-session passes are on sale now. Adult all-session tickets are available for $32.50. Student All-Session tickets are $21.50. Single session tickets go on sale March 18, 2009.

Two easy ways to order tickets:
In person at the Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office (located in SE corner of the Jerome Schottenstein Center near corner of Lane Ave. and Olentangy River Rd.) or call 1-800-GO-BUCKS.