Brown University senior forward Mary Butler said she idolized University of Maine women’s basketball players when she was growing up in Bangor.
On Saturday, she will get a chance to play against the Black Bears in her hometown.
Butler and the Bears (6-5) will take on UMaine (6-2) in a 1 p.m. game at the Cross Insurance Center.
“It’s going to be a real special opportunity for me, going back to play in my hometown against Maine,” said the 6-foot Butler, who is one of four Brown captains. “I have a ton of respect for Maine. It will be an honor to play against them.”
Butler grew up in Bangor, but she has played only one game at the Cross Insurance Center. It was during her senior season against Brewer. The Rams play home games at Red Barry Gym, and tournament games were held at the Augusta Civic Center.
“It will be interesting to go back there. There will be a great environment,” Butler said. “Maine has a real good fan base, and there should be a real good turnout. It will be fun to see everyone in Maine. It will be like a minireunion for me.”
Butler has started all 11 games for Brown this season, and is averaging 4.5 points and 5 rebounds. She leads the team in blocked shots (14) and is tied for second in assists (24). She ranks fourth on the team in steals (16) and rebounds.
Brown coach Sarah Behn, a Boston College Hall of Fame player, said Butler is a glue player who helps make the team go.
“She has been a joy to coach all four years,” Behn said.
“She helps us win. She’s the type of kid who shows up on a lot of different stats that aren’t charted, like she’ll make the pass before the next pass which earns the assist, or she’ll deflect a ball that leads to a steal or box out well so somebody else can get the rebound,” Behn said.
Saturday’s game is the 97th of Butler’s career. She has scored 357 points, grabbed 364 rebounds, and registered 102 assists, 70 blocks and 61 steals.
“She has always been in great condition and had great desire and instincts,” Behn said. “She can play 2 [shooting guard] through 5 [post] and can guard 2 through 5.”
The daughter of Paul and Angela Butler, and older sister of Katie and Tommy Butler, has a double concentration of studies: public health along with business, entrepreneurship and organizations.
She has thoroughly enjoyed her time at Brown in the classroom and on the basketball court.
“It is a great place to grow. It has really been about setting my own path. I made the right choice coming here,” said Butler, who was a first-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl team selection in 2015.
Butler played AAU basketball with UMaine junior guard Maddy McVicar of Calais and knows the Black Bears will be a formidable opponent.
“I know they have a lot of shooters, so we’re going to have to be ready for that,” Butler said.
UMaine coach Amy Vachon said it will be nice to see Butler playing in her hometown.
“Hopefully, there will be a big turnout to support Mary. They can come cheer for us and Mary as well. She’s a great kid from a great family,” Vachon said.
“It will be a great atmosphere. [Hopefully] they will be clapping for both teams,” Butler said.