Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat some hoops.
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!
Mechelle Voepel (2:02 PM)
Sorry to miss the chat last week, had a delay in traveling back from Denver. So ... no, I did not do a mock draft. I don't fare so well with predictions on anything. The world needs a WNBA mock draft from me about as much as it needs another Kardashian wedding. On with the countdown.
sportsfan0360dejavu (draped in mourning)
Did Skylar miss her best chance for a NC?
Mechelle Voepel (2:04 PM)
You want to bask in misery, huh? :) Seems reasonable to say she missed her best chance last year in Indy. That said, I don't like to judge seasons or careers on only that. Getting to two NCAA title games in a row is pretty darn fantastic.
Auriemma has historically not started frosh stars, unless an injury opens up a slot a la Maya Moore for Greene. From his comments to date and what you've seen of Breanna Stewart, might he change his approach next year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:05 PM)
Sure has sounded like it. Auriemma is reasonable, not rigid for the sake of being rigid. If she's ready, I'd think he'd start her.
kevin (macon ga)
WIll the IOC bar Saudi Arabia from participating in London after the Saudi's decision to not include any women in their delegation? Brunei and Qatar are sending some female athletes.
Mechelle Voepel (2:07 PM)
They should have been barred before now. Saudi Arabia is ridiculously out of line by a million miles from what the IOC's purported goals and views are.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
What's your take on Coquese Washington interviewing for Michigan, Really a homecoming attempt or is something Rotten in Happy Valley? Going within the conference isn't exactly a sign of a good relationship.
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
Of course, Washington is from Flint, Mich., so there's validity to it being a homecoming, if you will. But this is also kind of the way of the coaching world now on the women's side _ just as it's long been on the men's. Washington has elevated and energized the Penn State program, and perhaps the dalliance with Michigan is a bargaining chip.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When is the 2012 WNBA Draft?
Mechelle Voepel (2:11 PM)
That's easy: Monday at 2 p.m. Eastern time in Bristol, CT. The hard question is who gets picked, in what order, after Nneka Ogwumike at No. 1. Lots of potential answers there.
Matt (New Jersey )
Will UConn win the National Title next year or are they just a different team without Maya Moore
Mechelle Voepel (2:14 PM)
Yes, the Huskies are different without Maya, but it appears the recruiting cavalry is riding to the "rescue" for 2012-13. Because UConn made it to "only" the national semifinals this year. :) Baylor, which brings all its starters back, and UConn project as the favorites. And they face off in the regular season. Cool.
Rumor had it that LSU "poached" Allison Hightower away from a verbal commitment to Baylor. Remember the Mulkey/Pokey showdown in January 2006? I wonder if that made Kim paranoid she'd lose Brittney Griner, bringing on the impermissible contacts.
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
Adele sang about that, didn't she? Rumor has it ... oooh. Anyway, yes, we recall the bad blood between Kim and Pokey, and the "You ask her what she said," press conference. Fun times. :) All coaches are paranoid constantly, I think. A verbal commitment is not binding, and coaches are used to "baby-sitting" their top recruits no matter how "strongly" they've verballed. So I guess that may have something to do with it, since it does seem Coach Mulkey could have been more careful about the appearance of impermissible contact. But the NCAA has spoken, and accepted Baylor's self-imposed penalties.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
So with Baylor closed, was the matter settled, or did the NCAA look away from serious issues (namely the conflict of interest with Makenzie being on Sims and Griner's AAU team and how that may or may not have resulted in improper contact by Mulkey)
Mechelle Voepel (2:24 PM)
Because the NCAA said it's settled, then for all practical purposes, it *is* settled. The NCAA folks did the investigation and have all the information, and they are the only ones who can make the call on penalties. I think people will have some pretty strong opinions on both sides of this, but the reality is the NCAA accepted Baylor's penalties and put the program on three-years' probation. It seems that the NCAA is indicating what happened was not very serious, right? It's hard to read the NCAA, so make of that what you will.
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Has Baylor's perfect 40-0 season now been blemished by the news that their coaching staff violated NCAA recruiting rules in order to build their national championship winning roster of players?
Mechelle Voepel (2:33 PM)
I'm not trying to be wishy-washy on this topic, but people will make up their own minds on it. Yes, some will say it's blemished, and some will say it isn't. Some will say the rules are antiquated and impossible to truly enforce anyway. Others will say the rules are the rules, and you follow them or you don't. My take is that Baylor really did have some competence problems in their compliance office, which reportedly have been addressed. And as for whether the Mulkey/Griner family relationship through the AAU team was totally within the rules ... clearly it was not. But the NCAA interviewed Mulkey and others at Baylor, so they must have been satisfied enough with the explanations to accept the self-punishment and probation. I doubt all of Baylor's competitors are satisfied, and that's to be expected.
Just wondering...how strong is the interstate rivalry in Texas? Just seems like Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor have no love lost...don't know where SMU fits in the equation, recruiting-wise.
Mechelle Voepel (2:39 PM)
Everything is bigger in Texas ... including rivalries. Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech and Texas AM basically can't stand each other. But it varies sport-to-sport and depending on whom you're talking to as far as which school loathes which other school the most. Considering Texas AM's fight song is entirely about beating Texas, I've always figured they win out on that scale. Of course, now they're going to the SEC, where they will continue to sing about beating an opponent that they no longer face, right? Anyway, in women's hoops, the Baylor-Texas Tech loathing is pretty high, for reasons I'm sure I don't have to explain. As for SMU ... not really in the same picture. What's really interesting, though, is how TCU will be regarded now that it's joining the Big 12. Will TCU be able to hone in more on top Texas recruits by being in the Big 12? It's gotta help. And how will Texas AM's recruiting change with going to the SEC?
How do you think WVU will fit into its new conference home?
Mechelle Voepel (2:44 PM)
Speaking of which ... like a lot of these conference-swap things, this makes no sense. The Mountaineers will not fit in, but they'll have to get used to it. I guess it brings "mountains" back to the Big 12 after Colorado left. But I feel bad for West Virginia fans, really, to be part of a conference that is centered so far away and is geographically unrelated. Yes, I know Iowa is far from Texas and all that, but the old Big 12 still lined in a way that just isn't there with the Big 12 and West Virginia. But ... it's a done deal.
How badly will the loss of Penny Taylor affect the Aussies at the Olympics? Can they win the silver without her?
Mechelle Voepel (2:49 PM)
Terrible, terrible, terrible news. So sorry for Taylor, who has given her all to the Opals, and for the WNBA fans, especially those in Phoenix who adore PT. It's obviously a huge loss to the Aussie team's London hopes. Still, *somebody* has to win those other two medals, right? The Aussies still have an opportunity. (And you just know U.S. coach Geno Auriemma *loves* it when everybody acts as if the gold is already won. :) He will not be taking that for granted, though, that's for sure.)
Has Notre Dame-U Conn now displaced U Conn-Tennessee as the new best rivalry in women's college basketball?
Mechelle Voepel (2:51 PM)
It did this year, didn't it? That game in Denver was one of the most physically and emotionally intense you'd ever want to see. I wouldn't have wanted to count the new bruises after that one. ;) That said, just looking ahead, Baylor-UConn next year could be the top rivalry. Or at least it's projecting that way.
Do you think Stanford can make a run at the National Title next year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:54 PM)
To be frank, it's hard to see the Cardinal making as strong a run for it next year as they have in the last five. But Tara VanDerveer isn't left with an empty cabinet after Nneka's departure. She's still got one Ogwumike and some other young talent. And she's still a very gifted strategist.
Maryland and Duke have very young teams coming back next year with probable lessons learned, often brusque, from their NCAA losses. Which team do you think will learn the most and/ or will be the more improved next year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
Wow, I really think that's a toss-up. I could go back and forth on it, because they do have a lot of similarities in that regard. If both stay healthy, it could really be a great battle between the two at the top of the ACC.
Will Sammy Prahalis go to seattle?
Mechelle Voepel (3:00 PM)
Like I said, my predicting isn't that good ... but to my knowledge, Seattle was looking harder at either Shekinna Stricklen or Glory Johnson or Shenise Johnson. At one point in the season, I think the Storm really liked Stricklen to fill a need, but not sure if they still feel that way.
Speaking of realignment, do you think Pitt will fare well in the ACC? They do play defense, which seems sometimes lacking in the ACC...
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
In order to be competitive in the ACC, they're going to have to be a *lot* better than they were this awful year. That lifeless loss to Seton Hall really seemed like they weren't even competing hard, which can happen when the losses pile up. The Panthers do have some young talent, but they have a lot of ground to make up.
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Did Riquna "BayBay" Williams' WNBA Draft stock drop at all due to her suspension during Miami's NCAA tournament run?
Mechelle Voepel (3:07 PM)
The coaches on yesterday's WNBA conference call answered that one carefully. On one hand, they can't and won't deal will players who might cause chemistry issues. (Not saying she would, but just as a general point.) But by the same token, they said they don't know all the details of what happened, and to a degree, it's irrelevant. The WNBA coaches want to win games, and if they feel that Williams can help them do that and not disrupt anything or cause any issues, they will not care about or pay any attention to what happened with her and Miami.
Do you think Tiffany Hayes will go in the first round of the WNBA draft?
Mechelle Voepel (3:11 PM)
I think it would be nuts if she didn't. Hayes' consistency issues are well-documented, but UConn prepares players extremely well for the pros. That's been proven time and again. Hayes in some ways is a good pick almost for the very same reason she struggled at times this past season: She is not a "star," nor does she seem to want that. She wants to blend in. That should be OK; on some teams she will be a very good fit. She's got a lot of talent and a good mindset to be one of the important cogs on a team. I think she's probably more consistent when she doesn't feel as much weight on her shoulders.
kevin (macon ga)
Does Mickie DeMoss leaving Tennessee suggest there's a change coming?
Mechelle Voepel (3:14 PM)
Everyone's been trying to read the tea leaves at Tennessee, and DeMoss's departure obviously means there will be some change in the staff. I'm sure the whole structure and future of the program are front-burner issues for Coach Summitt and the athletic administrators. I feel like they will respect her wishes and also do the best thing for the program.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
Had a LONG talk about this on Rebs, wanted your take. What do you think is the driving force behind this year's faster than normal coaching carosuel?
Mechelle Voepel (3:19 PM)
I don't know what tack your discussion took, but I've always thought that ADs tend to parrot each other and notice what the others are doing in hiring practices in women's hoops. Which is why there are different trends you see in the hiring over the years. Considering how quickly the recruiting "season" starts after the real season ends, it's to a program's detriment to be waiting around for very long to fill jobs. By the same token, though, what's that old saying? "Marry in haste, repent in leisure?" Better make sure you have the right person. :)
Mechelle Voepel (3:19 PM)
Thanks for all the questions! Tune into the draft on Monday afternoon, and we'll all find out who's going where and if there are any big surprises.