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April 01, 2007

If I were a big-name college coach at the Final Four, the one place I would try to avoid at all costs would be my own hotel.

The Hilton across the street is the coaches' hotel, and another reporter and I wandered over there yesterday morning for about two hours to check out the scene. The place is like a crowded airport, only filled with familiar faces.

Here are a few sightings:

Bruce Pearl - NOT wearing his usual orange, caused quite a stir around the rumor mill.

Roy Williams - Breezed through but stopped to sign a few autographs.

Jim Calhoun - Must not have gotten the memo.

Steve Alford - New Mexico?

Jim Larranaga - It's not the same without you, man.

Leonard Hamilton - Hey, he made it to the tournament after all!

Lefty Driesell was wandering around on the second level, and I stopped to chat with him. He said his son Chuck, now an assistant with Maryland, was here but left already. No sign of Gary Williams.

I met a George Mason assistant who has been coming to the Final Four for about 15 years and said he had a different - more unpleasant - experience this year. After Mason's magical appearance in the Final Four last season, coming back as a spectator stinks because now you know what you're missing.

Some coaches were using the place to angle for a new job.

- Heather A. Dinich

If Billy Donovan can pull this off - have his Florida Gators repeat as NCAA champions while dealing with speculation that he is headed to Kentucky - it will be an unprecedented display of coaching focus.

The Florida-UCLA semifinal matched the first teams to return to the Final Four since Kansas got there in 2002 and '03. Roy Williams was the Jayhawks' coach back then, and spent the weekend of the 2003 Final Four in Indianapolis denying the obvious - that he was heading to North Carolina.

Remember the aftermath of his title-game loss to Syracuse? Bonnie Bernstein wouldn't back off and old Roy, making like Tommy Bromwell, told her and everyone watching CBS that North Carolina didn't matter to him.

He was headed, of course, to Chapel Hill.

The morning after Selection Sunday, my son Don filled out his bracket and put Florida, UCLA, Georgetown and Ohio State in the Final Four.

A day later, I did the same, but we disagree after that. He has UCLA and Georgetown winning last night. I picked Florida and Ohio State.

That sound you heard echoing around Sue Creek last night might have been the two of us shouting at each other. Hopefully, it wasn't too disturbing to the neighbors.

- Paul McMullen

A bit of history was made with yesterday's announcement of the Kodak All-America team as Baltimore, a city with a rich tradition in girls and women's basketball, saw its first area native named to the team.

Louisville sophomore Angel McCoughtry, The Sun's girls Player of the Year three years ago at St. Frances, was selected to the 10-member team, announced this morning by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), making her the first Baltimore player to be so honored in the 33-year history of the team.

McCoughtry, a 6-foot-1 forward, averaged 22 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season and was named Big East Player of the Year. Maryland's Crystal Langhorne, who nearly set an NCAA single-season record for field-goal percentage this year, became the first Terp since Vicky Bullett and Deanna Tate in 1989 to be voted to the Kodak team.

In addition to McCoughtry and Langhorne, other selections were Ohio State senior Jessica Davenport, LSU senior Sylvia Fowles, Duke senior Lindsey Harding, North Carolina senior Ivory Latta, Oklahoma sophomore Courtney Paris, Tennessee sophomore Candace Parker, Mississippi senior Armintie Price and Stanford junior Candice Wiggins, the daughter of the late Alan Wiggins, a former Orioles second baseman.

The prestigious Kodak team is voted on by a panel of WBCA members.

- Milton Kent

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