Kim Barnes Arico inherited a talented group when she took over at Michigan this season. Now she's taking the Wolverines to new heights.
Michigan entered The Associated Press women's basketball poll at No. 25 on Monday. It's the Wolverines first Top 25 ranking in a decade.
"Wow, that's really special." Barnes Arico said. "The kids have bought into what we're doing. We have a really great group of seniors that are really experienced."
Baylor remained the top choice for the second straight week, earning 34 first place ballots. The Lady Bears cruised to easy wins over Iowa State and Kansas and now own the longest active conference winning streak, with 32 straight Big 12 victories.
Notre Dame, UConn, Duke and Kentucky round out the first five. The Wildcats switched places with Stanford, which saw its 81-game conference winning streak end with a loss to No. 7 California on Sunday. It's Kentucky's best ranking in nearly 30 years.
Kentucky and Stanford were the only two changes in the first 16 teams in the Top 25. Miami fell out of the poll after losing to both Maryland and Florida State.
Michigan, which was last ranked on Dec. 23, 2002, is 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time in the history of the program. The Wolverines were coming off a strong season which they won 20 games and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years.
Unlike St. John's, where Barnes Arico built the program up, she knew better than to change much right away at Michigan.
"I came into their program. They had established it, and they had gone to the NCAA tournament, and they had done things," she said. "If I came in and just started saying, 'Heck no, we're doing it this way,' there could have been a revolt."
Michigan's first game as a ranked team will be on Thursday at Northwestern before a showdown with No. 8 Penn State next Monday.
Barnes Arico has been in this position before. She led St. John's to its first ranking in 22 years back in 2006 and the Red Storm turned into one of the better teams in the Big East under her leadership. She's hoping for the same success at Michigan.
"We're going to talk about get ranked. Don't forget how we got here and the hard work it takes to stay," she said. "I'm having them come in and we're going to talk about how to handle it. Make sure we continue to work and not let it go to our heads. We're going to enjoy it too. It's a place that Michigan hasn't been in the last 10 years."
As the wins this season kept piling up, Barnes Arico admitted that her son Trevor had been "bugging" her to see when the Wolverines would get ranked. The last time Michigan was in the poll, he was just four months old.
"He'll be really happy when he comes home from school today," she said laughing.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg