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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


W-hoops freshman guard makes most of her minutes

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Erin Butler, No. 21, goes up for a basket against Grand Canyon University at McKale Center last Nov. 6. The freshman guard hit a career-high in scoring against Oregon last Thursday.

Erin Butler, a freshman on the Arizona women’s basketball team, had been working hard in practice, trying to earn herself some playing time.

But after 16 games, that work hadn’t paid off. She had only played in eight of the team’s game, and that’s without missing any time with an injury.

Simply put, Butler is a freshman, and playing time is hard to come by in Arizona’s lineup. At least, it was before Thursday in Eugene, Ore., when the Wildcats faced Oregon.

Butler entered the game with 13:17 remaining in the first half. Minutes later, she nailed a 3-pointer. Then another. And another. And another. She kept making them until the end of the game, when she finished with 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.

“It felt good, it was good to get in,” said Butler, who had only 13 points on the season before Saturday’s game. “I took advantage of my opportunities so it was nice.”

Despite her lack of playing time, Butler’s teammates and coach didn’t seem surprised by her breakout game. Junior guard Davellyn Whyte was more flabbergasted by how the Ducks responded to the freshman’s hot shooting.

“For some reason — I don’t know why — they weren’t really guarding her after she made about three,” Whyte said. “So me and (starting guard) Shanita (Arnold) just kept feeding her the ball and she kept knocking them down.”

Of course, head coach Niya Butts wasn’t happy that Arizona wasn’t able to pull out a victory — it lost to Oregon by a score of 87-73 — but Butler was definitely a bright spot in what was an otherwise downtrodden game.

“To come in having not played in the last six or seven games and really make a huge impact on our offensive end was huge,” Butts said. “Not only that, (but) she hit a huge shot at Oregon State. Erin made the most of her minutes.”

Butler doesn’t shy away from her role in Arizona’s offense — one that features a pair of dynamic guards and a 6-foot-5 center. “I’m an outside shooter,” she said.

Having an outside shooting threat available off the bench is a valuable weapon to have, especially one capable of hitting seven 3-pointers in one game.

“It’s huge, anytime that you have players that are willing to pull the trigger and that can knock them down,” Butts said. “It spreads things out. The thing is, when you can shoot the ball really well, it always adds another dimension to your team.”

Butler has her work cut out for her going forward. She said she knows her play in practice is what brought her the opportunity to break out to the tune of 23 points.

And with injured guard Candice Warthen due to come back in the near future, Butler knows her minutes are still going to be based on how she practices, despite her breakout game against the Ducks.
But if Butler keeps performing in limited action, Butts might have to reconsider.

“When your name is called, it doesn’t matter how many minutes you play,” Butts said. “It doesn’t matter about any of that stuff. It’s what you do with those minutes.”

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