The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports

October 27, 2010

Jennings psyched for new season

INDIANAPOLIS — As a psychology major at Butler University, Elizabeth Jennings studies the human condition and ways to better understand humanity. Part of that process involves learning more about ones self than they thought they already knew about themselves.

“It’s shown me that I’m capable of accomplishing more than I thought I was,” Jennings said in a phone interview. “I’m focused on doing what’s asked of me and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help the team.”

That would be the Butler women’s basketball team where the former Lapel standout is entering her sophomore season. And what is being asked of her is a move to a new position.

The team’s Web site lists the Lapel graduate as a guard/forward. If things go according to plan, the “G” under position on the roster should be removed from Jennings’ profile.

Entering the 2010-11 season, Jennings’ a new role will be that of a power forward or a “4.” The hope is that she’ll be able to create some match up problems on the offensive end of the court and the utilize her 6-foot-1 frame on the defensive interior for Butler this season.

“We moved her to the 4 because that’s what we envisioned her as when we recruited her,” Butler coach Beth Couture said. “She’s stronger; she put on some muscle mass this summer in the weight room and she’s a match up problem.”

Butler runs a 4-out offense. In that system, four players are on the perimeter to open up the floor, spread out the defense and create driving lanes to the basket. If the defense plays back, then they take their chances with Butler shooting jump shots.

“She won’t be playing strictly with her back to the basket. Defensively, she’ll be matched up against the other team’s 4.” Couture said. “She understands our system and how we do things. She’s more polished in how she does things this year.”

“That’s a huge strength for us with my outside shot,” Jennings said. “If I have a big on me I can draw them out. If I have a guard, I can go down and post up on them.”

The power forward position isn’t a new one to Jennings but it’s one that she’s not played in the traditional sense for some time.

“I played it a little in AAU,” Jennings said. “In high school, I’d be a power forward on defense in the post because of my height and on offense I’d be a guard bringing the ball up the floor.”

To prepare for the upgrade in physical play that goes hand-in-hand with playing down on the blocks, Jennings paid her dues in the weight room to put on muscle for the season. While she improved her personal bests in the main areas — bench press, squats, dead lift and leg press — it’s her improvement on the bench press that she’s most proud of.

“I’ve improved by 40 pounds and I’ve put on 20 pounds of muscle,” Jennings said.

Last year Butler’s men’s basketball team made it all the way to the National Championship game before falling to Duke by a basket. And there’s been some carry over to other Butler athletic programs.

The volleyball team is leading the conference,  the men’s soccer team is undefeated, expectations for the men’s basketball team is at an all-time high. And the ladies team is being touted as a preseason contender in the conference.

Coming off of a 23-10 season and an appearance in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, expectations are high in Indianapolis for the women’s program. Butler was picked to finish second in the Horizon League by the conference’s coaches, sports information directors and media.

“That’s an honor for us that others see Butler as a contender,” Jennings said. “Our focus is on getting better as a team and being greater than ourselves.”

“I think it gives everybody hope,” Couture said of any possible carryover from the men’s team’s success. “I think it helps because success breeds success.”

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