University of San Diego women basketball enjoy first national ranking ever
Life is good right now for University of San Diego coach Cindy Fisher. Her team is unbeaten and ranked for the first time in school history.
Throw in that it's 75 degrees and sunny virtually every day that she steps out of her door and Fisher joked that things couldn't get too much better.
"It really is great right now," Fisher said in a phone interview. "I'm so happy for this team that the hard work has paid off. To actually get them to see what they've been working for in a ranking is great. It's a feeling of accomplishment that they are very excited about."
The Toreros (15-0) entered the poll Monday at No. 24. They are one of five unbeaten teams left in the country, joining UConn, Notre Dame, Iowa State and Indiana.
It's hard to blame Fisher for being excited. There has been little basketball tradition at San Diego for either the men's or women's programs. The women have only made the NCAAs three times — the last coming in 2008 — and have never made it out of the first round. The men also made it to the tournament that season and have never been ranked.
"This will help recruiting and it's nice for this group to get some recognition," Fisher said. "It helps to reconfirm what they've been doing every day."
The Toreros are led by Amy Kame. The senior guard had 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a win over Saint Mary's and then followed it up with a 28-point, 11-rebound effort against Pacific.
"Amy is one of the most underrated players in the country," Fisher said of her captain. "Anytime you have her on the floor good things are going to happen. She leads the way for us every day."
With 15 victories, Fisher's team already has more wins than San Diego earned in 23 of its seasons.
Fisher's team has benefited from not having to play on the road much. After an opening trip to Northern Colorado, the Toreros haven't left California since. In fact, they've only left the southern part of the state once, playing at San Jose State in November.
Now the Toreros will have a tough road ahead of them as West Coast Conference play has gotten underway. The league is one of the best in the country.
"I've been in this conference nine years and also watched from afar," said Fisher, who took over the program in 2005. "It's by far the toughest year that we've had. Every single night it doesn't matter who it is or where it is, it's a barn-burner. Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, Pacific, BYU, go down the line and it's such a credit to the great coaching and great players coming into the league. The WCC has turned into one of the top in women's basketball."
San Diego's first game as a ranked team will be at Portland on Wednesday night. Usually the WCC plays Thursdays and Saturdays, but the Gonzaga men's team is playing a televised game at Portland on Thursday so the women's game was moved up a day. From there the Toreros will head to Spokane to face WCC power Gonzaga.
"We're excited to get some parkas on and head to the Pacific Northwest," Fisher said. "It's going to be a tough road swing for us."