AP Basketball Writer
Tennessee’s 31-year run in the Top 25 is over.
The Lady Vols streak of 565 consecutive weeks in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll ended Monday as Tennessee fell out of the Top 25. The streak started Feb. 17, 1985.
“It’s really an amazing streak and a tribute to all of the players and coaches who’ve contributed to the Lady Vols’ rich tradition of excellence,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “The results this season haven’t been what we wanted, but I assure you my staff and I are working extremely hard to ensure that our players reach their potential and, in turn, help our program attain the level of success we expect at Tennessee.”
Tennessee (16-11) had been teetering on the edge the past few weeks and finally dropped out after losing two of its three games last week. With the Lady Vols out, UConn now has the longest active streak. The Huskies, who remain No. 1 in the poll this week, have been ranked for 428 consecutive weeks. It would take them roughly seven more years to match Tennessee’s record.
“It’s very impressive,” said Tamika Catchings, who starred for the Lady Vols from 1997-2001. “That’s huge. Like anything else, streaks come to an end at some point and time. Thirty-one years, that’s amazing. To be a part of it was really awesome. Highs and lows. Unfortunately they are going through a little low right now, but it will get better.”
During that 31-year run the Lady Vols had been ranked No. 1 103 times. They were in the first five 407 weeks and top 10 506 times. Since the poll began in 1976, Tennessee had only missed a total of 15 weeks before Monday. The Lady Vols were not in the first poll then missed four weeks in 1981-82. They also had a 10-week gap in 1984-85.
While the Lady Vols fell out, UConn continued its run at No. 1. The Huskies cruised through two more easy victories. They host SMU on Wednesday and then Tulane on Saturday. This was the 200th week overall that UConn has been No. 1 in the poll.
“I think it’s a reflection of the players we’ve had and the consistency,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “That’s what I’m most happy with. It’s been going for a long time and you look around the country and realize how difficult it is to sustain this. It’s not as easy as people think sometimes.”
The Huskies were followed by Notre Dame, South Carolina, Baylor and Ohio State.
Colorado State entered the Top 25 for the first time since 2002. The Rams have won 21 straight games. Missouri also came back into the poll while Florida fell out.
Other tidbits from this week’s poll:
FALLING OUT: With Tennessee dropping out, it’s the 10th time that a team started the season in the top five and fell out of the poll. The others were South Carolina (1980-81), Louisiana-Monroe (1985-86), Old Dominion (1985-86), Louisiana Tech (1990-91), Georgia (1991-92), Auburn (1993-94), UCLA (1999-2000), Rutgers (2008-09) and North Carolina (2009-10).
HURRICANE COMING: Miami’s got a tough week ahead with games against No. 10 Louisville and No. 12 Florida State. The Hurricanes won their only game last week, beating Virginia Tech in overtime.