Larkins, Gearlds left off Kodak team

Updated: April 1, 2007, 1:47 AM ET
By Mechelle Voepel | Special to ESPN.com

CLEVELAND -- OK, besides all the news conferences and locker-room chatter with the national semifinalists, there are a few other things that happened Saturday. Here's a recap of what's always the busiest day of the Women's Final Four.

Courtney Paris
AP Photo/Tony DejakCourtney Paris, who has posted 61 straight double-doubles, was named AP's national player of the year Saturday.

The Kodak All-America team -- which will next year become sponsored by State Farm -- was named. The Kodak committee seems to have this problem of not realizing that just because someone was on the team last year and is still in college, she should not automatically make the team again.

The 10 on this year's squad are all very fine basketball players. But Kodak's committee doesn't decide its team until after the regional finals. And especially taking that into account, it's a mystery why North Carolina's Erlana Larkins and Purdue's Katie Gearlds were not Kodak All-Americans.

Later in the afternoon, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris and Duke's Gail Goestenkors were named Associated Press player and coach of the year, respectively. Their teams are meeting in the national championship game Tuesday … according to my pre-tournament bracket predictions. It was another stellar year for me in that department.

After receiving her trophy, Goestenkors glanced around at all the sharks, eh, reporters circling her and then said that she is still deciding between staying at Duke or leaving for Texas.

"I'm taking it one day at a time; I'm still in the process," said Goestenkors, who had accepted the coach of the year award saying it should have gone to colleague Kay Yow of NC State. "The support [from the Duke community] has been phenomenal. I love Duke and all the fans and friends and my team. They've all been incredibly supportive through this process.

"It's been pretty stressful. They're both unbelievable institutions. They both have a tremendous combination of academics, athletics and people. It's about the people."

Goestenkors soon will leave for Italy with the U.S. national team, for which she is an assistant coach.

"I'd like to make the decision as soon as possible, just for peace of mind and peace of heart," she said, adding that Texas was likely the only school that could have lured her into considering leaving Duke. "Texas is a job I've always thought was one of the best in the country. So that was very appealing."

She said she hasn't had much opportunity to think about the Blue Devils' painful loss to Rutgers in the Sweet 16 a week ago.

"It's been such an emotional time for me," she said. "Coming off a tough loss that was extremely emotional and then, obviously, heading out to Texas. There wasn't really a lot of time to sit back and think through things. I hate to think too much in the past; I always like to look forward. It's probably been part of the healing process."

In accepting her award, she had found her Duke point guard in the audience and said, "Lindsey Harding, you are my hero." Goestenkors then joked, "She's been wanting me to say that all year."

Next up was Paris, whose Sooners also lost in the Sweet 16, to Mississippi. In her acceptance speech, Paris said, "Lindsey Harding, you're my hero, too. If anyone deserves this award, you do. It's been a joy watching you all season."

Talk about a sweet moment. And what do you bet that someday, these two will be USA teammates in the Olympic Games and World Championship.

Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at mvoepel123@yahoo.com.

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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