Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat about the women's college hoops season.
Voepel is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.
Send your questions now and join Voepel Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (2:04 PM)
Good afternoon from snowy Kansas. Looking forward to seeing how UCLA will compete with Stanford tonight. Let's get started.
Any word yet on the new WNBA president? Its getting closer to the season, and I'm getting closer to being nervous.
Mechelle Voepel (2:12 PM)
The NBA is keeping a tight lid on this, and I'm not entirely sure why it's happening like that. I'd think being just a little more public and openly pro-active about the search process would be a good thing for the league. But, I swear, it seems to me that there is a lack of awareness that there really is a hard-core fan base that maintains interest year-round. I admit, I'm irritated by so many things with the league right now. I could think of about a half-dozen fans/observers who regularly contact me who could at least have a decent chance of running it better than it's been run. But I don't think any of them are being considered as candidates. :)
kevin (macon ga)
Chamique Holdsclaw is an unrestricted free agent. Where does she fit best?
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
She seemed relatively happy - for her - in San Antonio. Right now, we don't know about SA's coaching situation ... still ... and there's a fair amount of things that may or may not shake out with free agency. Plus, this is Chamique ... she is not a predictable player, obviously.
Any news on Swin Cash still wearing the green and yellow of the Storm this season? Please say yes.
Mechelle Voepel (2:16 PM)
Talking to her in November, she did seem very interested in returning to Seattle. But not like, "It's a done deal, it will definitely happen."
Any chance of Xavier getting a No. 1 seed come March if they win out?
Mechelle Voepel (2:21 PM)
If they win out, then they finish the regular season/league tourney with just two losses ... then, obviously, it will depend on how the other teams who are projecting now as No. 1 seeds finish. I would have to say it's not that likely, just based on how I expect other teams to finish. But a No. 2 seems very likely. All that said, I've never been much into projecting seedings until right before the tournament. Too many things can happen.
I'm assuming you have heard of the other athletes who have tested positive for the same drug at the same lab around the same time as Taurasi. I have never believed the accusations and this pretty much cements my stance, however, what can be done (if anything) to truly prove that DT did not take the drugs?
Mechelle Voepel (2:27 PM)
Diana Taurasi and her lawyer will go through the process just like everyone else who tests positive. If there really are problems with this particular lab, then I think we have to trust in the process that they will be exposed. Or it could be that everyone really did take this substance. Perhaps unknowingly? People who are fans of Taurasi are naturally not going to believe she took any banned substance, and I totally understand that. I would expect them to feel that way. But there are procedures to follow for defending yourself in this situation, and I'm sure that's what she's going to try to do.
Jack Anders (Waco)
With Baylor's dominating performances against everyone except Geno's Girls, what are Texas A&M's odds of pulling off a No. 1 upset in 10 days?
Mechelle Voepel (2:34 PM)
The game is at College Station, so that helps the Aggies' cause. Both teams have a lot of strengths ... AM has very experienced guards, but so far her youth hasn't been a weakness for Baylor's Odyssey Sims at all. It is obvious, but a big, big key for AM is Danielle Adams' offense. She's had some games where she got off to a slow start and missed several shots. She can't afford to do that against Baylor. (And, again, if I use the ampersand for AM it messes up the chat answer ... but not the question. I don't know why. Quirk in the system.)
Jeff Holley (Little Elm, TX)
You got to witness the BU game versus KU. Do you think BU can run the table in the Big 12? Texas A&M loss perhaps???
Mechelle Voepel (2:36 PM)
I really do think Baylor is going to go undefeated in Big 12 play, and not because there aren't other good teams in the league. But there is just a feeling of such confidence with Baylor now. They stay focused and play hard even when pounding someone. I'd say they looked like UConn in that, and that's a huge compliment, obviously, because that's one of the hallmarks of the Huskies.
Genise (NY, NY)
What does UCLA need to do to win tonight? They looked really great against Oregon...
Mechelle Voepel (2:41 PM)
The Bruins are not big inside, but they're used to that and they have adjusted their defense to be more about quickness. Bruins coach Nikki Caldwell talked about that in a teleconference a couple of days ago, and she's been pretty pleased with how they've defended. And remember, she has Tennessee standards when it comes to defense. Stanford is so good about doing exactly what they want on offense, it's up to UCLA to disrupt that. Or ... maybe the Bruins try to win an offensive battle. Both teams have shot over 45 percent from the field on the season. It is hard for me to fathom that the Cardinal are going to fall at home, but UCLA can go into this game with a nothing-to-lose attitude.
Mechelle, if Oklahoma wins at Kansas on Sunday, are you planning to add them to your top 25 next week?
Mechelle Voepel (2:44 PM)
Yes, I will. Some people are convinced - and I understand why - that if you live in a certain region, you favor the teams from there in the poll, almost subconsciously. I do think that can happen, but not always. Sometimes it's actually the opposite: You know the teams in your region so well because you've seen them so much over the years, you evaluate them more harshly.
Could you give some insight to what is really going on at the University of Texas..they keep blowing leads, what's up?
Mechelle Voepel (2:52 PM)
Texas' blown lead at Missouri was bizarre, and I can see fans criticizing that. It was almost like the Longhorns thought the game was over, but it wasn't. However, the next three games have been losses to No. 1 Baylor, No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 5 Texas AM, with the latter on the road. Yes, last night Texas did lead the game, but again, they're playing the No. 5 team on its home court. You kind of expect the Aggies would come back. I realize that there are Texas fans who are not happy with the Longhorns or Gail Goestenkors now, but I think you have to be realistic about whom Texas has been going up against. But when you get a big, big salary ... well, there are going to be big demands, too.
What is up with Florida Gulf Coast? Your opinions on them!
Mechelle Voepel (2:58 PM)
It's a fascinating story. I remember a couple of years ago when FGCU beat Florida very early in the season, and I was thinking, "Wow, who is this?" I think it reflects, in part, a surge in talent and commitment at the prep level in the Sunshine State. When you consider Miami's having a good season, Florida State has made itself more of a regular in the rankings the last several years, and FGCU is getting votes, that's saying there really is some increasing excitement about the sport in Florida. Heck, all the attention on basketball in general in that that state with the Florida men's success and the NBA has had to have helped girls/women's basketball grow.
Is Georgia Tech a contender in the ACC this year?
Mechelle Voepel (3:04 PM)
Yes, absolutely. I like the fact that the Jackets play a tough non-conference schedule. They had three losses in a row in November, but they were against UConn, Tennessee and Georgetown. That really does help prepare you for ACC. And it sets up the showdown at Duke on Friday. At this point, why shouldn't Georgia Tech believe it has a chance to beat the Blue Devils? Tech has already played other potential No. 1 NCAA seeds, not to mention beating North Carolina.
Joe Foss (Athens, OH)
Is the absence of Stanford/UCLA TV coverage further evidence of East Coast Media Bias, or just a demonstration of PAC-10 shortsightedness in failing to establish its own TV network?
Mechelle Voepel (3:09 PM)
It's really the Pac-10's responsibility to figure out a way to get its best teams on television. Is anyone surprised that Stanford-UCLA is a big matchup in women's hoops this season? Did this sneak up on us? Of course not. It was easily a game that should have been targeted by league officials. I think every league has seen what the Big Ten network has done - how successful it's been and the kind of exposure it's provided many sports - and hopes to copy that. Of course, Texas is creating its own network, which is a pattern some other schools may follow.
Is Penn State the sleeper team from the Big 10 this season (so far)?
Mechelle Voepel (3:13 PM)
I am not super surprised, actually, at Penn State's 4-1 start in the league. This is a program that has been putting things together, and it just seems like there is some overall moving and shaking going on throughout the Big Ten.
Michael (Fort Worth)
Thoughts on the Mountain West Conference? Air Force beats San Diego State last night. Looks like anyone can beat anyone. Can TCU finish the conference season unbeaten? What is the highest seed they can get if they win out?
Mechelle Voepel (3:18 PM)
There is a lot of parity in this conference, and that's what's going to make it hard for TCU to actually run the table in league play. It helps to have already won at Wyoming, though. I wouldn't count on the Frogs making it through unscathed, but I do think they'll win the league. They have six losses, but that's in part because TCU always challenges itself in the non-conference. If they were to win out, I'd like to see them get rewarded for playing a tougher schedule. TCU hasn't always been treated very well by the selection committee, in my opinion.
Mary (San Antonio)
Were you surprised that Stephanie White and Jenny Boucek decided to remain assistant coaches and not go after head coaching positions? I thought one of them would get the job with the Silver Stars. And since neither took the job, does this mean that the Silver Stars have to go back to the drawing board.
Mechelle Voepel (3:25 PM)
I was not surprised on Jenny Boucek ... she does not care so much about whether she's a head coach or an assistant, she just wants to be in a position where she feels she's doing the most good for players. That really is what motivates her, and she has had a very good working relationship with Brian Agler at Seattle. Her parents live in Seattle; she's happy there ... I think that was the best situation for her. Stephanie White was interested in the Chicago head coaching job, but said she would be willing to take another assistant's job if it was in a place where she thought she could continue to learn and grow as a coach. Obviously, she goes way back with Lin Dunn, and White knows that Dunn has a ton of experience now with coaching at the pro level. As far as San Antonio, the longer this goes on, the more one assumes Dan Hughes may be coaching again.
It looks like Cheryl Ford is healthy again. Will she return to the wnba this summer?
Mechelle Voepel (3:27 PM)
Well, you certainly hope so. I know she's played over the years through a lot of pain, but if she's truly feeling well, she still has plenty to contribute to the WNBA. We will also see how Teresa Edwards' presence with the Tulsa Shock may change some players' attitude toward the franchise. Players with any sense of history or perspective have respect for Edwards.
Mechelle Voepel (3:29 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. As always, several I just didn't get to, but I appreciate the contributions and will chat again next week.
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