The Colorado women's basketball team has felt all along that it was pretty good.
The rest of the country is finally starting to notice.
CU landed in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings on Monday for the first time since Jan. 14, 2008. The Buffaloes are ranked No. 25, the same spot they were in the last time they were ranked.
This is just the second season in the last eight that the Buffs have been ranked.
"The good thing about being ranked is that people are talking about Colorado basketball again and that's necessary in order to reach our ultimate goals," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "Obviously we don't want to stop there and we have much bigger aspirations and things that we're shooting for. But it is an honor to be back in the top 25 and it shows that people are recognizing our program, and I think that's always good."
CU got quite a bit of attention Monday. The Buffs were featured all day as the top story on ESPN's women's basketball site, with a picture of senior guard Chucky Jeffery. ESPN named Jeffery its national player of the week. Jeffery was also the Pac-12 player of the week.
"It's real exciting for our program," Lappe said of Jeffery's honors. "We look at any individual award as a team award. She knows, as well as all of her teammates know, that honor is more so about people recognizing our team than any one individual player."
Jeffery averaged 18 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in helping CU go 2-0 last week.
Lappe played for the Buffs from 1999-2003, when they were routinely in the rankings. The Buffs vaulted as high as No. 10 during Lappe's junior year, 2001-02. That year, the Buffs reached the national quarterfinals and defeated No. 5 Stanford along the way.
That win against Stanford was CU's last against a top-10 team until Friday when the Buffs knocked off No. 8 Louisville. Beating Louisville surely opened eyes around the country because prior to this week, the Buffs received just one vote, at No. 25, from the 40 voters.
This week, the Buffs were ranked as high as 14th by one voter (Harold Gutmann of the Durham, N.C., Herald Sun). Twenty other voters ranked them between 17-25.
CU hasn't won over everybody, though. Of the 40 voters, 19 didn't rank the Buffs at all. But, the votes they did get were enough to be among the Top 25, and the Buffs are ready to accept the challenge.
"Every single night you're getting everybody's best, but I think that's a good thing because I think that's how you grow and get better as a team," Lappe said. "It's a step in the right direction. You're no longer an underdog and people are going to be out for you and shooting for you. It changes things a little bit in terms of that."
Lappe and the Buffs also know that being ranked now means very little in terms of its ultimate goal of getting to the NCAA Tournament. The 2007-08 squad, which was ranked four weeks in a row, struggled in the second half and wound up in the WNIT.
This CU team hopes to avoid that and get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
"To us, ultimately it's a number and we have to go out and continue to get better every day and work extremely hard," Lappe said.
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