Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has had many really good teams over the past few seasons, reaching the Final Four the last five years.
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Yet none of those teams was ever No. 1. She finally has a top-ranked team again.
Stanford took over the top spot in The Associated Press poll Monday from Baylor after ending the Lady Bears’ 42-game winning streak. The Cardinal barely edged Connecticut for the top spot in the poll. Stanford received 21 first-place votes, while Connecticut had 17. Baylor got the other one.
”I have great respect for so many teams out there,” VanDerveer said. ”I don’t think it’s a one-horse race or two-horse race. There are a lot of really good teams out there.”
It’s the Cardinal’s first time at No. 1 since the final poll of the 2005 season.
”I can think of a lot of teams that we have had that might beat this team, but it is only November,” VanDerveer said. ”During the last few years, there have been some very dominant teams. UConn with back-to-back national championships, Baylor’s team last year. It brings great positive attention to women’s basketball on the West Coast. We’re happy to hold the banner for West Coast basketball.”
Stanford has been No. 1 two other times, holding the top spot for a six-week stretch in 1996 and in the preseason poll in 1992.
The Cardinal (5-0) jumped from fourth after beating former No. 1 Baylor 71-69 on Friday night. Baylor, which was first in the previous 21 polls, fell to third.
”The win against Baylor and now being No. 1 is going to make it tough for us to sneak up on anybody,” VanDerveer said laughing.
Stanford’s first game at No. 1 will be Sunday when the Cardinal host Long Beach State. Stanford has won 80 straight home games at Maples Pavilion dating back to the 2007-08 season.
”We only have one game Sunday and maybe the attention our team will get over the next few days will get more people to come out and check us out.”
The first real test may not come until a road trip to South Carolina and Tennessee in late December before the Cardinal return home to face UConn on Dec. 29.
Duke was fourth and Notre Dame fifth. The Blue Devils were the last team to jump from the fourth spot to No. 1. They did it in the 2003-04 season after beating then-No. 1 UConn by a point. It’s only happened three other times – twice by Louisiana Tech and once by Penn State.
Penn State moved up three spots to sixth. The Nittany Lions were followed by Louisville, Georgia, Kentucky and Maryland to round out the Top 10. Kentucky fell three places after losing to Baylor by 34 points last week. The Terrapins dropped five spots after falling to Saint Joseph’s by one.
California, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Purdue and Texas were the next five. Ohio State climbed four places to 16th. The Buckeyes were followed by Vanderbilt, St. John’s, UCLA and Tennessee.
Oklahoma State, Kansas, Nebraska, Dayton and North Carolina round out the poll.
UCLA, Kansas, Dayton and North Carolina all moved into the Top 25 for the first time this season. Delaware, Texas A&M, Miami and Georgetown fell out. Dayton has only been ranked once before, for two weeks in 2009.
The Flyers (4-0) have already knocked off DePaul and Vanderbilt this season.
”We are honored that people are recognizing what our coaches and players have done here at Dayton,” Flyers coach Jim Jabir said. ”If we are able to be ranked at the end of the season in the final poll that would truly be an amazing thing.”