Chattanooga’s in Top 25, Gamecocks still No. 1 in poll
Chattanooga coach Jim Foster had a simple explanation for his unprecedented success.
”I guess I’ve had some pretty good teams,” Foster said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. ”The players are the ones that did something, I’ve just been around them for awhile.”
He became the first coach in women’s basketball to lead four different schools to the Top 25 when the Mocs entered The Associated Press poll on Monday at No. 25.
Before Chattanooga entered the poll, Foster was one of nine coaches to lead three different teams to the Top 25, guiding Saint Joseph’s, Vanderbilt and Ohio State to the rankings. He took over Chattanooga in 2013 and now has the Mocs in the Top 25 for the first time since 1984 when the school spent four weeks in the poll. They won their first game as a ranked team 49-32 over Samford on Monday.
”It’s a good group, they work really hard and want to be coached and that’s a great place for a coach to be,” Foster said of his team.
Chattanooga already has taken down Stanford and Tennessee this season joining a rare group to beat the women’s basketball powers in the same year.
”What you learn when you play teams like that, is how important it is to play for 40 minutes, how hard you have to play for 40 minutes,” said the 66-year-old coach. ”It helped us win a couple of games that I don’t know if we would have if we hadn’t played them. I like to play teams that have a long history of success in March as it certainly helps you be better prepared.”
While the Mocs entered the poll for the first time in 30 years, South Carolina stayed No. 1 for the 10th straight week. The Gamecocks routed No. 12 Texas A&M 79-61 on Monday night.
The Gamecocks were followed by Connecticut, Baylor, Notre Dame and Maryland. Tennessee, Oregon State, Louisville, Florida State and Kentucky round out the first 10. The Seminoles jumped eight spots this week after beating the Cardinals and Wake Forest.
Oklahoma also entered the rankings for the first time this season at No. 24. Minnesota and Western Kentucky fell out.
Here are some other tidbits from this week’s poll:
UNBEATENS: South Carolina and Princeton remain the two lone undefeated teams remaining. The Tigers have been off for exams since routing Penn on Jan. 10. They return to action against Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend. On the other end of the spectrum, Illinois State and UC Santa Barbara are still looking for their first victories.
WELCOME BACK: Oklahoma entered the Top 25 this week for the first time since Dec. 23, 2013. Sherri Coale’s Sooners are on the rise 12 after three straight losses in December. They’ve won eight straight and are undefeated in the Big 12 with a big game at Texas on Thursday.
UPCOMING MATCHUPS: South Carolina and Texas A&M start off a great slate this week in the SEC. No. 10 Kentucky has a busy week hosting sixth-ranked Tennessee on Thursday and No. 21 Georgia on Sunday. In the Big Ten, No. 20 Iowa has three huge games starting with a home matchup with No. 15 Nebraska on Monday night. The Hawkeyes then visit Northwestern on Thursday and fifth-ranked Maryland on Sunday.
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