Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat about the start of the college season.
Voepel has covered women's college and pro basketball for ESPN.com since 1996. Read her blog at www.mechellevoepelblog.com.
Send your questions now and join Voepel Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
sportsfan0360 (mensa town)
I'm a huge UConn fan. I know our young team should not be expected to win this year. But should I climb out on the windowledge if they don't get to the FF?
Mechelle Voepel (2:10 PM)
Please don't do that. :) The Huskies are depending on some younger players. Others are maybe playing roles _ either in leadership or in their place on the court - that they are less comfortable with. And, of course, they lost a three-time Wade Trophy winner in Maya Moore. It's not *normal* that teams should just be expected to make the Final Four. :) That said, nobody is saying that UConn isn't going to make it that far. Geno Auriemma had a lot to say after the loss to Notre Dame that I'm sure was meant to motivate the Huskies.
sf0360 (deep below Purcell Pavillion)
Were you surprised that Notre Dame had never won an outright BE regular season or a BE tourney until 2012, even if they joined the BE in mid-1990s I think?
Mechelle Voepel (2:13 PM)
Not really ... not with UConn in the league. :) It really is a testament to how tough it's been to top the Huskies, but also to some of the other Big East teams that may not have been as consistently good as UConn, but have had some very good seasons.
Barry (Phoenix, AZ)
With the whole ND/UConn/Becca Bruszewski/Geno/Muffet situation, is this really a story because of the lack of coverage of other women's basketball stories, especially as compared to the media coverage of men's hoops? Seems to be much ado about nothing. Still dating the Jayhawk, by the way. :-)
Mechelle Voepel (2:20 PM)
It was a story in Connecticut and South Bend ... and anything involving UConn becomes a bigger deal (at least in Connecticut) because that program has more local media covering it. Having read Bruszewski's explanation, I am inclined to believe it as she told it. There is security at every locker room door at the Final Four... any reporter who's tried to enter a little too early knows that. I think it's all just good grist for the mill, if you will. :) There is often so little drama in covering UConn - especially after those two perfect back-to-back seasons - that people do kind of jump on it whenever it might happen. I think most outsiders just think it's all pretty amusing. :) And glad to hear you and Big Jay are doing fine. :)
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Which of the following two is the more likely upset in the Big Ten Tournament this weekend, Michigan State over Penn State or Michigan over Ohio State?
Mechelle Voepel (2:24 PM)
Ah ... league tournament time! Sparty beat Penn State and Michigan beat Ohio State during regular season, if I recall correctly. I don't think either of these upsets is going to happen, but if I have to pick one most likely, I'll say Michigan over OSU.
Bradley (Oklahoma City)
I keep hearing how KU and UT need only one more win and they are likely in the NCAA. Is OSU in that same situation? The only difference between the 3 teams is overall wins, and OSU lost 2 games because of the tragedy early in the season. Will the Selection Committee consider that if the Cowgirls win Sat to get on the bubble?
Mechelle Voepel (2:27 PM)
Charlie's last bracketology went up Monday, before the Cowgirls' victory Wednesday at Kansas. I think that officially killed Kansas, frankly. If Oklahoma State wins its regular-season finale against Missouri and then wins one game in the Big 12 tournament, maybe the Cowgirls do make the field. People can say what they want about principles and procedures, but the idea that what Oklahoma State has had to deal with won't enter the committee's mind at all ... that's preposterous.
kevin (macon ga)
The Storm made all these trades to get younger, then signed Tina Thompson. What direction are they headed?
Mechelle Voepel (2:30 PM)
Seems like this is a "safety" signing. Thompson won't be playing in the Olympics, she's always stayed healthy for the most part, and even though she's near retirement age, you know what you're getting with her. Yes, I know a lot of folks thought she was mailing it in to a degree last year, and maybe at times she was. But that might reflect an unhappiness with the Sparks, too. Clearly, TT isn't in any team's long-term future, but she could be a good person for the Storm to have for this season.
I assume MD can't get a #1 seed. How far do they need to advance in the ACCT to guarentee a #2 seed? Which #1 seed (Baylor, UConn, ND, Stanford) would the best match-up for them if both got to the Elite 8?
Mechelle Voepel (2:37 PM)
The Terps will have to at least be in the ACC final to possibly be a No. 2 seed. They are slated for an ACC semifinal matchup with Miami if seeds hold. As for the better matchup if Maryland meets one of the projected No. 1's down the road (with the Terps as a 2 or 3 seed), I would say UConn or Notre Dame *might* be more favorable matchups for the Terps than more post-heavy, great rebounding teams like Baylor and Stanford. Unless the Terps would prefer to go strength vs. strength.
sf0360 (hiding in Storrs)
Which regular season rematch do you want to see the most in the NCAAs -- Baylor-UConn, UConn-Stanford, UConn-ND, Baylor-ND or ND-Duke? Which would have you diving for the remote control?
Mechelle Voepel (2:41 PM)
Of the rematches ... I'd say Baylor vs. Notre Dame. The game that wasn't contested during the regular season that I think would be pretty awesome is Stanford vs. Baylor. And I would watching any of these matchups if they took place, so I wouldn't be looking for the remote to turn them off, if that's what you meant. :)
Maria (San Antonio)
What can you tell us about Ziomara Morrison, the player from Chile that the Silver Stars signed? Videos make it seem like she's a pretty good player.
Mechelle Voepel (2:43 PM)
I don't know anything about her other than what I've read. Dan Hughes does spend a great deal of time scouting, so he must have seen something that made him think she was worth a chance. Silver Stars fans, based on questions I've gotten today and in past chats, are pretty anxious about San Antonio's post situation. I can understand why.
How far do you think Kentucky advances in the tournament? And how good will they be next year, since they return almost everyone and add 3 more McDonald's AA's?
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
Kentucky just swept the major SEC awards and the regular-season title ... despite the Wildcats' three-game stumble in early-to-mid February, I see no reason not to be pretty bullish on Kentucky in the NCAAs. And you're right, next year looks potentially even brighter. I will be going to the SEC tournament in Nashville on Saturday and expect I will have more to say about Kentucky then.
Hey Mechelle! The Thomases gone and Williams in sparkling, how different/not different is Duke, really? Do you foresee a deeper run in the NCAA tourney this year, or about the same odds as last year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:53 PM)
Duke should get credit for dealing with graduation, injuries, and a suspension as strongly as it has. But it really hurts not to have Jackson, Wells and Henson this season. The Blue Devils, I think, are likely to hit a wall in the Elite Eight if they get that far. But that won't be a bad result at all for this group. That would be very good, in fact. Then look out for Duke next year if the Devils can stay healthy.
Do you think the NCAA will ever change its pre-determined sites to eliminate some teams having the luxury of playing at home?
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
Of course, we've all gone round and round on this for many years. I still feel that the system of the top 16 seeds hosting made the most sense and was the most fair. And it still did provide for at least some upsets. It's not ideal, but neither is the predetermined system that will give certain teams an advantage that they didn't earn specifically through their play. As for whether it will change back to top-16 host or some other system, I don't think so for the immediate future. Television broadcasts every game, and it's in TV's financial and logistical interest to have predetermined sites.
WCBB fan (Cyberspace)
Why no mention of Matthew Mitchell @ Kentucky for Coach of the Year in your article last week?He lost Vic Dunlap to the WNBA and still came back to win the tough SEC regular season outright for the first time in 30 years. He is undefeated at home and beat Duke AND Louisville, and gave Notre Dame a tough game on the road. He is doing this without a top recruiting classes or a previous history of winning at Kentucky. He is also doing this without a Griner or Donne, but with a collection of ladies playing as a team. Unlike Delaware or St Bonventure, he has won playing a strong schedule.What more does the man have to do to at least warrant an honorable mention?
Mechelle Voepel (3:01 PM)
Matt Mitchell should have been on my list of COY candidates last week. I took him and Muffett McGraw off because I thought it was getting too long. They both won their conference regular-season titles, so I look stupid. You could also put Rick Insell and Joanne P. McCallie and a few other deserving candidates on such a list. I don't think Kentucky is as under-talented as you're portraying them, though.
kevin (macon ga)
Who is your national freshperson of the year?
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
Elizabeth Williams of Duke. I've been very impressed with her poise, even as the Blue Devils have relied on her more and more.
Helen (New York)
Van Chancellor talked about the "eye test" for teams and the tourney. Is that simply shorthand for "Give the Big Six conferences a spot just 'cause they're from a big conference?" Wouldn't a mid-major get more out of the experience?
Mechelle Voepel (3:09 PM)
It might be shorthand for that, yes. But I think sometimes people go too far in the other direction, thinking that every mid-major that has a good record is some wondrous, uncelebrated gem that "deserves" something more than a program in one of the Big Six leagues. That's understandable, as most people like to side with the so-called Davids vs. the so-called Goliaths. But I think it's reasonable to say that not all programs in the so-called major conferences have that much advantage over the more accomplished mid-majors (if you want to use that term). In other words, some big-conference teams would get an awful lot out of the experience as well. All that said, Chancellor likely is always going to be beating the drum for the SEC, so you expect his eye-test is much clearer when it comes to those teams. :)
BuffaloDan (Buffalo, NY)
Just to put any paranoia in WNY to rest, even if the Bonnies lose their A10 opener, they are a lock to make the tourney, correct? I have to believe an unbeaten regular season in a high mid-major league has to stand for something. (Stinks that they may very well have to play three straight Philly schools in Philly -Â and Saint Joe's on their home court - to win the tourney crown.)
Mechelle Voepel (3:11 PM)
Right now St. Bonaventure is projecting as a No. 5 seed, so there's no way I can conceive of that one loss will keep them for a bid. So no need for that fear. :) You are right: The league tournament could be tough, but this is a team that's stood up very well to challenges all season.
What are your thoughts on the A-10 this season? Obviously many outside of the conference are surprised by St. Bonaventure's season when Dayton and Temple were chosen to finish 1st. Do you see the A10 as being a 2 bid league as opposed to a 3 bid league in the past few seasons? Who gets in? Dayton or Temple?
Mechelle Voepel (3:15 PM)
You could make a good case for three, but it may indeed be that only two make it. St. B is in, no matter the A-10 tourney result. But it's a *very* big tournament for Temple and Dayton to grab that second bid.
I was curious to know your thoughts on Tennessee's chances on making it to the Final Four? And how they're tournament finish might affect future recruiting; being that players like Kaela Davis have re-opened after initially committing to UT. Or does the recruiting have less to do with their finish and more about if Pat Summitt will remain the head coach?
Mechelle Voepel (3:19 PM)
The tough thing for Tennessee is that this is a team that has shown a lot of inconsistency, especially on defense. It's not that Tennessee doesn't have the talent to make it to Denver. But do they have the resolve and the mindset? I have to say at this point, it would be a surprise if they got that far. It could happen, though. Tournament finish does impact recruiting because of the exposure it provides, and even Tennessee and UConn are always looking for more exposure. But, yes, the situation with Coach Summitt is part of the recruiting issue. It's impossible for it not to be.
Jim (Kansas City, MO)
Mechelle -- What the heck has happened to K-State? Thirty-three points against Iowa State Wednesday night? Losing to Missouri before that? I like and admire Deb Patterson, but she consistently seems to get her teams out of the gate fast and then see them run out of air at the very time you want your team to be peaking. Do you agree?
Mechelle Voepel (3:24 PM)
One of the problems K-State generally has had is that it's rarely a very deep team. This goes back for quite a ways. Deb Patterson tends to rely pretty heavily on her starters, and they can wear out a bit as the season goes on. Also, there are certain factors with those particular games ... both were on the road, Iowa State is playing for its postseason hopes, and Missouri doesn't have any pressure as it's just trying to put a positive spin on the end of its last season in the Big 12. Also, this season when K-State has struggled offensively, the Wildcats have REALLY struggled.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
On this the 40th anniversary of title IX will you see the most competitive field of 64 in the sports history? I look up and down Charlie's bracket and I see more upsets than I've ever seen...almost starts to look like the men where you barely even look at seeds and break it down to matchups. Is this good for the game or what?
Mechelle Voepel (3:26 PM)
I'm not sure I could exactly quantify "most competitive," historically, but it's certainly going in the right direction. That's something that's been gradually happening for a long time _ and was taking place even in those years when UConn was going unbeaten.
Mechelle Voepel (3:28 PM)
Thanks for all the questions, and sorry there were a great many I didn't get to. My brain doesn't work that fast, I'm afraid. :) Hope everyone is ready for a lot of conference tourney action. Will probably switch up the chat day next week as Thursday I will be at the Big 12 tournament in KC. Will let you know on Twitter.