DREAM COME TRUE: Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb owes a lot of her success to friend Hillary Hike.
When the two were kids they used to hold fake press conferences imaging what it would be like to be at a Final Four.
Hike as a player and Gottlieb as a coach.
"I would take like a fake tape recorder and we would do imaginary press conferences," she said. "And she would dream about playing in the Final Four, which she got to do, and I would dream at some point about coaching here."
Hike's a big reason for Gottlieb's success. She starred at Duke, helping the Blue Devils upset Tennessee in 1999 to reach the Final Four.
Former Cal coach Joanne Boyle was an assistant on that team and hired Gottlieb as an assistant for the Golden Bears a few years ago. Gottlieb left to coach UC Santa Barbara before returning to the Bay Area when Boyle took the Virginia job.
"I joke that I have a job because you went to Duke," Gottlieb said. "She and her whole family are here. It's kind of fun. 'We joke: 'Wow, we both ultimately made a Final Four.'"
GETTING OLD: UConn coach Geno Auriemma says he is enjoying his 14th Final Four as much has his first back in 1991, which was also in New Orleans.
He cannot say as much for the grind of pressure-packed games one must win just to get back to women's college basketball's marquee event again and again. The Huskies have been to a record six straight Final Fours.
"Being at the Final Four is still fun. It's still great. It's easy. When you're here, you know your team deserves to be here. You know you're going to play well. You know you're playing a great team," the 59-year-old Auriemma said. "For me, it's gotten harder and harder to enjoy the process leading up to this."
The subject came up during a discussion of how much different this Final Four must be for Auriemma or Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw than it is for 35-year-old California coach Lindsey Gottlieb, who has led Cal to its first Final Four — and her first as a coach — in her second season with the Golden Bears.
"Lindsay doesn't know it yet," Auriemma began with a grin, "but 10 years from now, she's going to look back on this year and go, 'Man, that's when it all turned for me. I used to love this game."
AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg contributed to this report.