It was an incredible weekend for James Madison coach Kenny Brooks.
He became the school's all-time winningest women's basketball coach Sunday when the Dukes beat Delaware for his 303rd win, which moved him past Sheila Moorman. He then got to see his youngest daughter win her first AAU championship. Now Brooks has the Dukes ranked for the first time in five years as James Madison entered The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 23 on Monday.
''It's been surreal,'' Brooks said. ''What we have here is very special, and James Madison is a very special place. To play in front of 4,000 fans yesterday and to be recognized was wonderful. It's a great run that I'm proud to be associated with.''
James Madison (22-2) last was in the Top 25 on Dec. 28, 2009. The Dukes' only two losses this season came against No. 5 Maryland and Vanderbilt.
''It's an honor to be recognized on the national level and it brings credibility to our program,'' he said. ''It's a major accomplishment. Last year we could argue that we had the best team I ever had - we were dominant in so many different areas. We lost the player of the year and defensive player of the year to graduation, so there was a little bit of doubt surrounding this team. Right from the start we were motivated to do well.''
While James Madison has been in the Top 25 before, Florida Gulf Coast made its first appearance in the poll Monday, jumping in at No. 22.
''We talk about it at points in different years, our goal is to get in the Top 25,'' coach Karl Smesko said. ''The last couple weeks we've reiterated that goal that we want to get in the Top 25. Now the next logical talk is what you have to do to stay in the Top 25. We'll be having that talk the next time we get together.''
The Eagles' first game as a ranked team comes Thursday at Kennesaw State. James Madison visits UNC Wilmington the same night for its first game of the week.
The new teams at the bottom of the poll joined a change at the top, with UConn ascending back to No. 1 after its 25-point victory over then-top-ranked South Carolina last Monday.
The Huskies spent two weeks at No. 1 to start the season before their loss to Stanford in November. The Gamecocks fell to No. 2 after spending the last 12 weeks atop the poll. They are followed by Baylor, Notre Dame and Maryland. The Irish beat No. 10 Duke 63-50 on Monday night, while the Terrapins held off Michigan State 75-69.
Tennessee, Oregon State, Louisville and Florida State round out the first 10 teams.
Here are some other nuggets from the poll:
NON-POWER SUCCESS: For the first time since March 7, 2011, there are five mid-major programs in the poll. The 16th-ranked Princeton Tigers are joined by No. 20 Chattanooga, No. 22 Florida Gulf Coast, No. 23 James Madison and No. 24 George Washington.
UNBEATEN: Princeton continued its march to an unbeaten season with victories over Brown and Yale this past weekend. The Tigers (23-0) had to rally past Yale for a six-point win. It was their closest game in the conference this season. Princeton hosts Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.
UPCOMING MATCHUPS: The only other contest between two ranked teams this week is Thursday when 11th-ranked Kentucky hosts No. 15 Texas A&M.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg