It's gotta be the shoes

The small parade of reporters were walking straight into Lindsay Gottlieb's office on the Cal campus, the coach leading the way past her staff members, who laughed knowingly.

"Going to see the shoes?" one of them asked.

Out of the shopping bag, she pulled the shoebox stamped with the name Manolo Blahnik. And out of the box came a pair of blue, strappy heels with a slightly iridescent design.

"It's my 'Sex and the City' moment," Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb went into the Nordstrom store in nearby Walnut Creek following her team's practice Tuesday looking to splurge on a pair of shoes.

Her Cal team was making its first trip to the Final Four, and knowing that clotheshorses Muffet McGraw of Notre Dame and Connecticut's Geno Auiremma were going to bring it, Gottlieb figured she should try to keep up.

At least with a good pair of shoes.

But the personal shopper who greeted her recognized her immediately and insisted she try on dresses as well. So she bought one of those, too. Fitted, navy blue and a little bit pricey.

"I've worn a Vera Wang dress as a bridesmaid and this was still more," Gottlieb said.

But it's a "once in a lifetime" opportunity, Gottlieb said. Well, hopefully not once.

But she can't assume. Gottlieb said she has new respect for the coaches who get their teams to the Final Four multiple times.

"I now realize how amazing it is for coaches that get their teams four, five, six times in a row," Gottlieb said. "I know there are a lot of great coaches who never get this opportunity, and I don't take that lightly at all."

On the other sideline will be Louisville coach Jeff Walz, who will be wearing a button-down shirt with an open collar and no tie. Walz is a guy who embraces casual Fridays.

"I can't stand wearing a coat and tie," Walz said. "I used to get out there and I used to wear it."

When he interviewed for the Louisville job with athletic director Tom Jurich, he said he clearly looked uncomfortable.

"When I went to meet him and he said, 'If you don't take that tie off, you're not going to get this job, I want you just to be relaxed and be yourself,'" Walz said. "So I said, 'That's great.' I'm trying to start a trend. It just hasn't picked up."