PROVO — When BYU women’s basketball earned its first Associated Press Top 25 ranking since 2012, it made waves around campus and throughout the state.
To go along with Utah’s rise to No. 14 in the nation, BYU’s entry into the poll at No. 25 marked the first time that the state of Utah has had two nationally ranked women’s basketball programs since 2006.
So, you could say it was a big deal.
And head coach Jeff Judkins knew nothing of it.
“For some reason, I didn’t hear about it. I heard they were ranked when we finished practice,” Judkins said after Tuesday’s walkthrough in the Marriott Center Annex. “I congratulated the girls, but told them that it doesn’t mean anything. The season is not over. We have half of conference play to go.”
The Cougars (17-3, 9-0 WCC) are one of two West Coast Conference teams — joining No. 15 Gonzaga — inside the AP Top 25 this week. They’ll play Thursday at Loyola Marymount and finish the Southern California road swing Saturday at Pepperdine.
So maybe the ranking means more to their conference-mates than the Cougars.
“LMU will be psyched up to play us, because we are ranked,” Judkins said. “But it might give us an edge, too.”
AP Top 25
Perhaps the bigger deal for BYU is the latest bracketology report, which has the Cougars squarely in the field as a No. 10 seed against Texas in the Starkville subregional.
That certainly means more to point guard Brenna Chase, one of three double-digit scorers on the team who averages 12.4 points and 4.1 assists per game. One of her teammates found out about the ranking, so she did a quick search — and found women's basketball analyst Charlie Creme's latest bracketology index for ESPN.com.
Now that's something to be excited to see.
The junior guard has never played in an NCAA Tournament, and it’s all she’s thought about since she arrived on campus from her home in Colorado.
“As a junior, all I’ve wanted is to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Chase said. “I hope this is our year. We have a long way to go, but if we can get these next 8-9 games, then I think we’ll feel pretty good.”
Shaylee Gonzales, the electric freshman who leads BYU with 17.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, hasn’t had to wait as long to set her sights on an NCAA tournament bid.
But she doesn’t want to be content with a Top 25 ranking.
“We don’t want to stay there,” Gonzales said. “We need to get better.
“We have even higher goals, like top 15 or top 10 — and we can reach that.”