Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Voepel writes for The Kansas City Star and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.
So, send in your questions now and then join Mechelle Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (2:04 PM)
Good afternoon. Let's get started.
Hello Mechelle! This is Evelyn and I was just wondering how you feel about the current UCONN team. After lossing Green and Thomas do you still think UCONN has enough power from the bench and freshman Moore to take the title? Thanks
Mechelle Voepel (2:06 PM)
If anybody can overcome such losses, it's UConn and Geno Auriemma. He made it to the Final Four in 2001, of course, having lost two key players to injury. But it's a lot to ask ... it's just a really tough situation for UConn and for those two players now forced to watch, especially a senior in Mel Thomas.
Shawn (Chesapeake VA)
Mechelle, which mid majors are you anticipating making noise in the NCAA tournament this year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:07 PM)
I'm going to guess you're an Old Dominion fan, and I think that squad could really be a contender in the NCAA Tournament. They are always kind of under the radar nationally once league season starts, but they are good.
michelle Do you think Lsu is ready for another final four run?and do you think they deserve to play the tennessee lady vols again in the sec tournament?
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
The LSU team I saw in Arkansas last week definitely looked ready for a Final Four run. Tremendous on defense. We don't know how the SEC tournament seeds will go yet, obviously, but if LSU and Tenn. play in the tourney it will be a great game, I think.
Jeff (San Francisco, CA)
What's your thoughts on Cal? I watched them over the Oregon teams last weekend and Hampton still was struggling, but she obviously found the basket last night and I think with her nearing 100% and N'Diaye better off the bench after spelling Hampton in the starting lineup for a few weeks, their post trio is one of the strongest in the country and Gray-Lawson is getting better every game...Depth seems to be their only issue, but Boyle has proved to be a great game coach...
Mechelle Voepel (2:11 PM)
I couldn't have said it better myself, Jeff. Depth is a nagging issue, but plenty of teams have gone a long way without much depth. This is really a fun team to watch.
glenn (Morris Plains, NJ)
With RU currently running an 8 man roster and Uconn badly banged up, can you see a sleeper taking the Big East this year, and if so who?
Mechelle Voepel (2:13 PM)
I still think UConn or Rutgers will take the title, but ... that said, the Big East is the most interesting league to me this year with the powers being good but having some weaknesses and teams such as Syracuse emerging. Even several teams with no-so-good league records right now are pretty good teams, I think.
Mechelle, tell me what you think of my OkState Cowgirls. Are they for real? Could Riley be the best PG in women's ball?
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
Oklahoma State is not the strongest or deepest team in the post, but the guard play is really good, led by Riley. I do think she's in the conversation about best point guards, absolutely. And if people haven't seen her, they really need to. She's really terrific.
RG in DC
Who do you think is going to take the ACC this yr? UNC or MD?
Mechelle Voepel (2:17 PM)
I think Maryland, because of the experience factor. Both teams are so talented, but UNC is relying a lot on young guards. But I am really looking forward to Maryland at UNC next Saturday. I'll be covering that game.
Paul (New Britain, CT)
Hi Michelle, Will Someone other then UCONN or UT win the NC this year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
What I've thought since the season started is that UConn, Tenn., Maryland and Rutgers have the best chance of winning. Now, that doens't preclude others, of course. But those were the four that have stood out the most to me ... and even with UConn's injuries, I keep the Huskies in that category for sure.
kevin (macon ga)
Candace Parker: coming out or staying in?
Mechelle Voepel (2:21 PM)
I haven't heard anything to make us think she's staying. Although I guess we should wait to see how she feels by season's end. I would love to see her stay, but she's got to do what's best for her.
Hello Michelle, This is Brad and I want to know why Shannon Bobbit is never mentioned in the top point guard debates. The girl has the best handle in the game and her 100 three pointer in a year and a half are something to notice, but because of Parker, it doesn't get noticed. Just wanted to know what you think.
Mechelle Voepel (2:24 PM)
If she isn't, she should be. If you're a starting guard for Tennessee, you're pretty darn good. Obviously, though, Candace just gets a lot of the spotlight on that team.
Whats your take on Duke so far this season? And can Joanne P. McCallie succeed or is she way over her head?
Mechelle Voepel (2:25 PM)
You know, Duke has a lot of talent but a coaching change is never easy. Especially considering the success Gail Goestenkors had there for so long. I think Duke fans probably just have to be patient and see how things go. It's not the easiest thing to do, I know. Obviously McCallie has had success before, so I'm inclined to say give her time.
Jeff (Des Moines)
Can you ever remember a team having 2 players tear ACLs in the same season, like what's happened with Iowa State? Tragic...
Mechelle Voepel (2:28 PM)
Unfortunately, it has happened. The first one that came to mind for me was Stanford in 1998 with Kristin Folkl and Vanessa Nygaard. But back to Iowa State, I was so sad to hear about Nicky Wieben suffereing an ACL the other night. Not having her or Toccara Ross really puts the Cyclones in a bind. It's very sad and frustrating to see a program go through that.
Do you find it interesting that most of the questions are comming from guys?
Mechelle Voepel (2:29 PM)
No, because I've received more e-mail over the last dozen years of writing my column from men. There are a lot of men who are women's basketball fans, and they know a TON about the game. I think it's awesome.
John: (Kansas City)
Mechelle have enjoyed your stories for years. I am a huge Missouri fan in all sports. I was wondering what is it going take for Missouri to start competing at the top of the Big 12?? I like Coach Stein as a person but is there a change coming at the end of the year to help push my program to the the top??
Mechelle Voepel (2:33 PM)
OK, let me take a question from close to home. Missouri is in a big rebuilding year this season, but the bottom line is the Tigers are going to have to recruit better to stay competitive in the Big 12. It's really an extremely difficult conference. I would assume AD Mike Alden would evaluate the program on many different levels after the season.
Mike (Austin, Texas)
How long before Texas is a national contender every year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:34 PM)
Not long ... give GG a year or two, and I think you'll have your answer. Just based on her history at Duke.
Bill (New Brunswick, NJ)
Hi Michelle, Since you are a voter in the weekly AP poll, I was wondering if you can explain to me why UNC, with no marquee (Top 10) wins, is ranked in front of Maryland and Rutgers, both of whom can boast several resume-building wins.
Mechelle Voepel (2:36 PM)
I always say the poll should be considered only for entertainment purposes. Don't take it TOO seriously, because it's a lot of guesswork. Things work themselves out as teams either have success or don't. With UNC facing UConn and Maryland next week, the Heels have a chance to solidify their ranking ... or not.
Peter (Boston, MA)
Do you think that the Atlantic 10 is one of the top 3 conferences right now and who do you think will win that conference?
Mechelle Voepel (2:38 PM)
Not top three, but I still want to acknowledge the A-10 because there is definitely some good basketball played there. I'll be blogging about the Dayton Flyers soon, in fact, as they are on quite a roll. Still give the nod, though, as far as winning the league to GW. Not exactly going out on a limb. :)
glenn (Morris Plains, NJ)
True or false: Penn State in the Tournement, Coquese Washington as the Maggie Dixon Award Winner?
Mechelle Voepel (2:42 PM)
Well, Penn State may be able to make it to the NCAA Tournament ... it's been hard to figure exactly what's what in the Big Ten. I think so far, Coquese would be a very good person for that award. Penn State's win against Duke was a neat moment for that program - just how happy everybody there was. It was good to see.
What teams have bad feelings towards each other in NCAA Women's b-ball?
Mechelle Voepel (2:43 PM)
That's kind of a funny question - I think fans of teams have more bad feelings than the teams actually do. The kids tend to get to know each other through summer ball and USA Basketball teams and don't have the same animosity toward one another that fans sometimes have. That said ... Duke and Carolina really get after each other. :)
Terri (Oklahoma City)
What are your main feelings on the sooners? please answer!
Mechelle Voepel (2:46 PM)
Oklahoma lost some fantastic shooters who had kind of limited mobility. And the Sooners now have some quicker kids who aren't as experienced or as prolific as shooters. So ... it's been a trade-off that Sherri Coale and her staff are working with. I still think the Sooners will be right there at or near the top of the Big 12 at season's end. Baylor, though, is a team I think everybody is watching very closely ... or should be.
Jason (Custer, S.D.)
Do you think the University of Wyoming is getting the respect it deserves? They may not lose again this season until tournament time.
Mechelle Voepel (2:47 PM)
Well, they are on my list to write about very soon! Promise. The Cowgirls have a terrific coaching staff and a lot of experience and depth. Plus, I love the community enthusiasm shown for that team.
Spencer (Sharpsburg, PA)
What do you think about Beranato as Big East coach of the year? What a wonderful job she has done with keeping the team together after losing Sims. Pitt sure does have a couple of special coaches....Women's and Men's. Thank you
Mechelle Voepel (2:49 PM)
Coach B has done a nice job, and from her days at Georgia Tech she is used to dealing with injury adversity. She keeps a positive attitude. I couldn't begin to guess who will win COY in that league right now, though. Like I said, it's a fascinating conference this year.
glenn (Morris Plains, NJ)
RU/Uconn after the pondexter incident and Geno's non action toward the Imus controversy (Both involving use of similar foul language) should be considered under player bad blood as well.
Mechelle Voepel (2:52 PM)
Yes ... but I'm not up for poking at the UConn-Rutgers hornets nest. :) Duke-UNC is a little more "fun" in the bad-blood department. Or at least, it seems so.
Paul(New Britain, CT)
What can be done to get more coverage of womens basketball and increase the fan base?
Mechelle Voepel (2:53 PM)
It's just an evolutionary process ... players keep getting better and as the product improves, more fans come. Fans are the key - they buy tickets and they propel coverage.
Jenelle Atlanta , Ga
What are your thoughts on Kansas St chances of winning the big 12?
Mechelle Voepel (2:55 PM)
K-State has been the surprise of the league so far, and the key for the Wildcats has been the guard play of Shalee Lehning and Kimberly Dietz. It shows what having a junior and senior in the backcourt can do for you. Especially two player like that who compete so hard and are so good at follwing the game plan. Still, I think Oklahoma or Baylor will win the league ... if I had to pick right now, it would be one of those two.
addam (new haven ct)
who do you think is the #1 team right now
Mechelle Voepel (2:56 PM)
Right at the moment, I'll stick with UConn. Let's see what happens when UNC visits. I can't get Maryland out of my head, though ... the Terps could be No. 1 when it's all said and done.
Paul (New Britain, CT)
What would you give Maya Moore as a nickname?
Mechelle Voepel (2:58 PM)
Mmm-mmm good? OK, that's too long. I think that should be a contest among UConn fans. :)
kevin (macon ga)
Have you heard anything about the status of the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement?
Mechelle Voepel (3:00 PM)
Great question! No, I haven't. It went down to the wire last time ... I'm hoping that doesn't happen again.
AJ (Laurel, MD)
What about the lady vols? They still look like the #1 team to me.
Mechelle Voepel (3:01 PM)
Yes, Tenn. is still right up there, no question. I think the Stanford loss did them good.
Mechelle Voepel (3:04 PM)
That's about all I have time for now ... thanks for all the questions and sorry I couldn't get to them all. Pat from Whitefish Bay ... e-mail me about your concerns; I don't know much about that situation. Thanks to everyone! Have a good weekend!