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Augustus, Hatchell nab top honors from AP

BOSTON -- Seimone Augustus brings a double-dose of offense and the smoothest pull-up jumper in the game. Sylvia Hatchell tries to make the game fun, yet still finds a way to win.

Both have succeeded in a big way, and Saturday they received the top awards from The Associated Press in women's basketball.

Augustus, LSU's go-to 6-foot-1 senior, was voted the player of the year for the second straight season, making her the second repeat winner in the award's 12-year history. Chamique Holdsclaw of Tennessee won in 1998 and 1999.

Hatchell, who guided North Carolina to the program's first No. 1 ranking, was voted coach of the year and received her award amid great fanfare. The school's pep band showed up for the ceremony and struck up the fight song as she walked to the podium, accompanied by rhythmic clapping by the cheerleaders.

Both winners have led their team to Sunday's Final Four.

"I don't deserve this award," Hatchell said. "I learned a long time ago to surround yourself with great people and they make you look good. That's what I've done."

Augustus was the only unanimous All-American this season and leads the nation in scoring at 23 points a game. She edged North Carolina's Ivory Latta 18-17 in the voting by the 46-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.

Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers received nine votes and Oklahoma freshman Courtney Paris had two in balloting conducted before the NCAA Tournament.

Earlier Saturday, Augustus became just the second two-time winner of the Wade Trophy, another player of the year award.

"It means a lot," Augustus said. "All those things my dad helped me with when I was growing up, just to know that didn't go to waste is special. I can always see the glow in his eyes when I do something."

Augustus' father, Seymore, began working with his daughter when she was 5. He'd tie a hand behind her back so she'd learn to dribble with the other hand. He'd fit her with special glasses that prevented her from looking down at the ball so she'd see the court in front of her. He made her wear a bowling glove so the ball would come off her fingertips.

Augustus said she never tired of the work.

"I was trying to find a sport that I liked," she said. "Whenever he said something about going to the gym, I was always ready to go."

Augustus has used her fluid jump shot to put up impressive numbers from the moment she stepped on campus, a Baton Rouge high school star hailed as the biggest recruiting catch in LSU history.

She scored 27 points in her debut against Arizona and has scored in double figures an NCAA-record 131 times in her 139 games, including the last 96. This season, Augustus has shot 57 percent while leading the Lady Tigers to their third straight Final Four.

LSU coach Pokey Chatman said it's how Augustus gets her points that sets her apart.

"She's so active without the ball," Chatman said. "She knows she's drawing the most attention, that she's going to be held, bumped, pushed and challenged. But it's not going to change her game. It's not going to make her stop cutting and screening and staying active."

The last time Augustus failed to score in double figures was Dec. 18, 2003, when she settled for eight points a 76-53 victory over Richmond.

Hatchell, who has won more than 700 games in her career, was a runaway winner with 20 votes, giving North Carolina a sweep of the AP coaching awards. Roy Williams received the men's award Friday in Indianapolis.

Oklahoma's Sherri Coale received 10 votes and Maryland's Brenda Frese, whose team also is in the Final Four, had seven.

In a history-making season, Hatchell has guided the Tar Heels to a 33-1 record, the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference championship and the ACC tournament title. Her team was the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and climbed to No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time on Jan. 30.

The Tar Heels have won with a fast-paced, crowd-pleasing style that leaves opponents rattled. Hatchell said he decision to play that way has invigorated her career.

"When I was younger, I wanted to prove myself as a coach," she said. "But with the different things we have accomplished, now I don't have to prove myself as a coach. The main thing now is I just want my players to experience success and I want to see the smiles on their faces. I want them to have fun."

Hatchell guided North Carolina to the 1994 national championship and is 445-187 in 20 seasons with the Tar Heels. She's 717-267 overall in 31 years, including a 272-80 record in 11 seasons at Francis Marion.