The women's and men's basketball teams are both currently ranked in the RPI top 50. While the rankings change week-to-week, having both teams in the top 50 at the same time is highly unusual for an NCAA college or univeristy.
Both basketball teams ranked in top 50
University of the Pacific is one of only 14 NCAA universities and colleges in the United States that have both their men and women's basketball teams ranked in the top 50 in the RealTimeRPI.com Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) ratings. Both Pacific's men's and women's teams also are ranked near the top of the Big West Conference.
The Tiger men's basketball team has made a jump recently in the rankings, winning four of the last six games and holding a 5-4 overall record. The team currently is ranked 46th in the latest RPI ratings and has a strength of schedule that is rated the 17th toughest in the nation.
Pacific's women's basketball team was 7-1 and rated number 22 in the RPI before entering Saturday's contest at No. 1 Stanford. The team fell to Stanford 78-43.
On Saturday, the men's basketball team faced Santa Clara. The game served as a preview of next year when the Tigers switch from the Big West League to the West Coast Conference (WCC). Santa Clara is a member of the WCC. The game was a tight one, as both teams repeatedly took the lead throughout the game. Depite a valiant effort, Pacific fell to its future rival 75-71.
Besides the jump in rankings, some of the players have received recent honors for their skills on the court. Pacific junior and men's basketball player Ross Rivera was selected as Big West Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 10. It was Rivera's first weekly award. Rivera led the Tigers to a pair of victories last week, coming off the bench in both games after starting the first seven. He shot 63.2 percent from the field, hitting 12 of 19 shots, and scored a season-high 17 points against USF on Dec. 8, pulling down six rebounds.
He scored the 17 points in just 15 minutes against USF. With USF leading 37-29, he scored nine points in a 13-2 run that gave the Tigers their first lead of the game (42-39) with 11:55 to play. He also scored a basket with 27 seconds left that gave the Tigers a 65-59 lead to help secure the victory. He scored nine points in the first half against Nevada on Dec. 4, finishing with 14 points. For the week he averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
He joins senior Lorenzo McCloud, who was singled out for an outstanding performance and earning All-Tournament team at the DirecTV Classic after helping the Tigers to a second place finish earlier this month.
The Pacific women's basketball team (7-1) is off to its best start since the 1980-81 season. The Tigers opened the year with a seven-straight wins for just the second time in program history and were one of the last 18 undefeated Division I basketball teams (out of 345) before falling on the road at SEC foe Florida. The seven-game win streak was the fourth-longest in the women's basketball program history. Last season, the Tigers defeated Florida in Stockton before the Gators ultimately advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to the loss to Florida, the Tigers were as high as fifth in the RPI.
The women Tigers early season success has been due to depth and defense. Head coach Lynne Roberts has 11 players from last year's 18-14 WNIT team back again this season, including five seniors. Pacific's starting five -- seniors Kendall Rodriguez, Erica McKenzie, Ashley Wakefield, junior Gena Johnson and sophomore Kendall Kenyon - each average more than 9.5 points per game. Kenyon, a Stockton native, is averaging 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, one of 40 players in the country averaging a double-double. Defensively, the Tigers ranked fourth in all the NCAA in defending the three-point line, and 22nd in total shooting percentage defense.
For more information about Tigers basketball, visit http://www.pacifictigers.com.