Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (4:08 PM)
Good afternoon ... I am actually at US Figure Skating championships in Greensboro, N.C., but it's OK to talk hoops. Well, it's *especially* OK to do so in Greensboro.
I'm on record saying A&M takes Baylor at home in front of a sellout crowd. What do you think, and does that make UConn-Duke the game for #1?
Mechelle Voepel (4:11 PM)
Indeed, that will be an interesting game Sunday at College Station. I'd guess most people have circled it as Baylor's biggest "danger" game in Big 12 play. I still think Baylor will find a way to prevail. Duke has been very low-key about everything this season, including being undefeated. Personnel-wise, I think they actually do match up OK with UConn. But winning up there? Probably not.
I read sadly where Shanna Crossley tore the ACL in her left knee for a second time and will miss the upcoming WNBA season. Do you think she'll play in the league again, or is this the end of her WNBA career?
Mechelle Voepel (4:14 PM)
I talked to Shanna for quite a while this past summer down in Tulsa about all the injuries/illness she's overcome. It's tough to keep rehabbing, and she may be at an age where she wonders how much she wants to go through to get back to playing again. That said, she has a great deal of determination, and she was a valued player in Tulsa. I don't want to write her off yet, but every year a player gets older, the more difficult it is to gain a roster spot after coming back from an injury. Plus, there's the rest of her life to think about.
Why has North Carolina struggled so much this season. If you watch their team they have just as much talent as anybody else?
Mechelle Voepel (4:18 PM)
Unfortunately, I think you can say that same thing a lot of seasons ... yet they have not won more than the one NCAA title (in 1994). Sylvia Hatchell believes in transition basketball, but I think you also have to know how to play in a system, too. The only person who seems close to being a leader in terms of personality is Jessica Breland, a post player who's had had her own person health battle to fight. UNC doesn't have the guard leadership it needs.Talent alone can't do it, and UNC seems to be a case study in that.
j (Dallas, Texas)
At time when so many big time programs are experiencing transfers, do you have insight into how Coach P at Duke has been able to keep a full roster?
Mechelle Voepel (4:22 PM)
It's not as if there's really an unusual number of transfers, I don't think. The bottom line is that it's just hard for a lot of reasons to be sure that a player and school are the right "fit" until they are together and realize it isn't working. Duke has five freshmen on the team this season,and it's hard to keep a class that big together. I'm not predicting any imminent transfers or anything like that. But it will be interesting to see if all five remain Blue Devils for their college careers.
kevin (macon ga)
When will the WNBA announce their new president?
Mechelle Voepel (4:24 PM)
I keep asking. I don't know. If someone does, they aren't telling yet.
Jeanne Chew (Von Ormy, Tx)
It appears that Glory Johnson is finally playing up to her potential for the Lady Vols this season. I think she is perhaps the most athletically gifted player Tennessee has ever had. How do you think she stacks up against other great Lady Vols like Mique, Catch, etc.
Mechelle Voepel (4:28 PM)
If you're talking about how does she stack up in terms of sheer athletic ability, you're right - she's probably got as much as anyone who's played there. But in terms of how well she's played basketball and how consistently she's performed at a high level, she's not in the same conversation with Chamique Holdsclaw or Tamika Catchings. They were go-to, All-American level players from freshman year on. Johnson is not at that level, and it will take a lot to elevate her to that while at Tennessee, even for a brief time. But at least she has the talent to try to be that valuable of a player.
Do you think with the situation surrounding the validity of Taurasi's positive drug testing, some players not getting paid in Turkey, and the bombing in Russia, that it might impact whether WNBA players head overseas in the offseason?
Mechelle Voepel (4:30 PM)
Those things may impact *where* players choose to play, and perhaps how long they stay. But most players are likely going to assess the risks as incidental compared to the potential rewards.
Mechelle Voepel (4:35 PM)
Sorry, I accidentally deleted the question about Texas and the Longhorns winning two in a row after their 0-4 start in the league. Does it have more to do with them playing better, or whom their playing? Well, maybe a little of both. Texas is playing better, but it helps to not be playing one of the top-five teams in the country as Baylor and A&M were. The loss to Missouri, though, is one that should still bug the Longhorns.
What are your thoughts about Louisiana Tech this year...They defeated Georgia by 15 and had an awesome victory over Fresno State a few weeks ago...How dangerous are they?
Mechelle Voepel (4:39 PM)
They've had some big wins, but also lost to teams from the so-called bigger conferences. The 13-5 record is a bit of a mixed bag. But I think the big thing is that Spoon has been able to instill a lot of confidence and belief in this program. I do think they could be a dangerous postseason matchup.
Stevie G (Chicago)
Michigan sweeps OSU for the first time in eons. Can they make noise in the B10? Win a game or 2 in the dance?
Mechelle Voepel (4:42 PM)
If Michigan can maintain consistency, that is the key. It sounds boring, but the reality is that no one should doubt now that the Wolverines can win big games. They just wonder if they can win all the games they would seem more favored to win. They are a good team.
Ryan (Fort Wayne, IN)
Do you think Kachine Alexander of Iowa will land in the WNBA this season?
Mechelle Voepel (4:47 PM)
I asked Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, and she said there was some interest in her. I think this is the hardest type of player, though, to predict whether she'll make a roster. She's talented, a hard worker and obviously a great rebounder from the guard spot. Will she land with a team that really needs that from its perimeter? I think a lot depends on how healthy she stays and what mix of players she might end up trying to make a team with.
kevin (macon ga)
Any chance that Duke finishes the season undefeated?
Mechelle Voepel (4:51 PM)
Like the whole season? Winning the national championship? No, I don't think so. That's a very good defense, but not sure you can have the offensive droughts that Duke does and go through this season unscathed. Although they've managed it so far. But still .... no.
Attendance and success has been on the decline in recent years for the team I support. Is it fair to question coaching and other elements of the program and still call yourself a fan? There seems to be (at least) two main groups of fans - those who seem to support the team and coach regardless of wins and losses and those who believe a change should happen.
Mechelle Voepel (4:54 PM)
Well, I think you have to be true to what you believe as a fan. If you really think that the program needs to go a different direction in coaching, then how long can you be satisfied pretending you do support it? I think you can call yourself a fan of a program and still disagree with how it's being run. Now, if they give the coach you don't believe in a big contract extension, either you have to just deal with it or become a fan of another program.
I'm going to make you a WNBA GM...you need a post...do you take Lavender, Phillips, Pedersen or Adams.
Mechelle Voepel (4:58 PM)
I'll opt out of answering without knowing whom the rest of the players on the team are. :) That would impact the selection. Seriously, I don't think you can just make picks like this in a vacuum.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
WHAT in the WORLD is wrong with St. Johns? Thank you no further questions ;)
Mechelle Voepel (5:00 PM)
Well, not to make excuses you've probably already heard ... but that run of games - with losses to Maryland, Louisville, DePaul, UConn and Notre Dame - explains a lot of it, I think.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Let's revive an old ESPN show here: 5 reasons you can't blame NC State for the 20 point meltdown at home against Duke (if you can do it)
Mechelle Voepel (5:03 PM)
I don't *want* to make excuses for the Wolfpack. Yes, Duke has a great defense and was relentless in coming back. But those are the kind of upsets you can't let get away, and I'm sure Kellie Harper told her team that.
Will the Big 10 title be the tightest race out of the major conferences?
Mechelle Voepel (5:05 PM)
Yes, I think it will be right down to the last games figuring out league tournament seeding, and then tiebreakers. Exciting.
What are your thoughts on the ESPN The Magazine story about how some college programs use appeals to homophobia in their recruitng efforts? Can any concrete steps be taken to counter these tactics?
Mechelle Voepel (5:13 PM)
Kate and Luke worked very hard talking to a lot of people. I spoke with them during the many-months-long process and tried to suggest some folks they could reach out to. One thing I've found out over many years of covering women's basketball is that there are a *lot* more rumors about things than there ever are confirmations. The challenge of that story and any story the media does on this is that such negative recruiting is usually done in subtle ways, and it can be hard to "prove" it's happened. But by the same token, it can be difficult for programs to prove that they are *not* doing it. It's not necessarily fair to just throw out accusations and see what sticks, either. I think continued dialogue and awareness is obviously important. This topic has been written about a lot and will continue to be. But this is just too big and complex a topic to really even try to do any justice to via discussing it in a chat.
Mechelle Voepel (5:13 PM)
Sorry I didn't get to more questions. Should be back at the normal 2 p.m. Eastern time Thursday. Thanks.