Tar Heels scale new heights to No. 2

Updated: November 29, 2004, 5:27 PM ET
Associated Press

Pokey Chatman was 9 and playing what she called "bitty basketball" the last time LSU was ranked No. 1.

Now, in Chatman's first full season as the Lady Tigers' coach, LSU finally made it back to the top.

LSU replaced Tennessee as the No. 1 team in The AP women's basketball poll Monday amid a shakeup triggered by several upsets. Three of last week's top four teams lost; only LSU (7-0) emerged unscathed.

"Wow," Chatman said before heading to practice. "It's obviously a compliment to last year's team and our returning players and the incoming freshman class and the run we've put together.

"But it's so early in the year. You know how coaches are. We don't focus on it a whole lot. It won't change how we prepare for tomorrow's game with North Texas, but it's nice to be recognized."

LSU, second last week, received 42 of 44 first-place votes from a national media panel to claim its first No. 1 ranking since 1978, when the Lady Tigers spent four weeks atop the poll. That was the only other time they have been No. 1.

Tennessee (4-1), No. 1 in the first three polls, dropped to fourth after a 74-59 loss at Texas. North Carolina (5-0) moved up three spots to second, its highest ranking ever, and Notre Dame (6-0) jumped three places to No. 3.

Stanford (5-0) went from No. 7 to No. 5, Georgia (4-1) fell three places to No. 6 after losing to TCU in Hawaii, and Texas (2-2) tumbled three spots to No. 7. After knocking off Tennessee on Thursday, the Longhorns lost at UCLA.

Texas still received one first-place vote, as did North Carolina, whose previous highest ranking was third, in 1994 and 1995.

Chatman filled in for ailing coach Sue Gunter in January and guided LSU to its first Final Four appearance, then became the head coach in April when Gunter retired.

So far it has been exhausting run for Chatman and the Lady Tigers, who played in Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado during a 13-day span.

"So many positive things are happening, but you don't have time to sit back and exhale," Chatman said. "That kind of mirrors the season. Win, lose, play well, play bad, you just get ready for the next one. Basically, that's what it's been for me since January."

Connecticut, Baylor and Duke completed the top 10, holding last week's positions.

Ohio State remained 11th, followed by Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Michigan State, Rutgers, DePaul, Minnesota, Kansas State and Boston College.

Louisiana Tech, Maryland, TCU, Villanova and UCLA held the final five places.

TCU and UCLA moved into the Top 25 for the first time this season. Oklahoma and Arizona dropped out of the poll.

TCU, which was ranked all last season, followed its upset of Georgia with a victory over Michigan State to win the Rainbow Wahine Classic. The Lady Frogs (5-1) also have defeated UCLA.

UCLA (3-1) beat Texas 63-60 Sunday and made the Top 25 for the first time since the week of Feb. 21, 2000, when the Bruins were 22nd.

Oklahoma, 21st last week, dropped out after losing to Iowa. Arizona, which was 25th, beat BYU in its only game during the week.

After Tuesday night's game with North Texas, LSU doesn't play again until a Dec. 14 visit to No. 18 Minnesota. Chatman, however, doesn't look at those two weeks as a break.

"It's just a different focus," she said. "You don't play as many games, but you hit the recruiting trail and try to piece together time to get the kids all here for practice so it doesn't interfere with finals.

"Basically, we're getting ready to go to Minnesota after tomorrow's game. That is what awaits you."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press