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)
Good afternoon a week out from WNBA season launch. Let's get going.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
Given how many players will be sitting out before the Olympics...would a baseball style split season make more sense for the WNBA in Olympic years? Those are done all the time in the Minors because of the mid season changes in Rosters. In that case top 2 in the first half and best 2 records not in the playoffs already in the 2nd half make the playoffs instead of top 4.
Mechelle Voepel (2:05 PM)
I haven't heard this discussed seriously by the league, but maybe it would have some merit for 2016. I don't know if at that point, the season might be a few games longer. There's no ideal solution to the issue, but since it's once every four years I don't necessarily think it's a huge problem. Just another part of the WNBA's schedule issues that are always going to be there in some form as long as they play in the summer months here. Don't see that changing.
kevin (macon ga)
Most people seemed to think it was funny when the fan wandered out on the floor during the Nuggets-Lakers game, but all I could think about was Monica Seles getting stabbed in a similar situation. What are the chances of a Seles-like attack happening in 2012?
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
It wasn't funny at all because it's never a good situation when spectators cross the boundary onto the playing "field" in any sport, but also because this woman appears to be very mentally ill. Obviously, Seles' situation was horrific, and she was attacked from behind where she didn't see the attacker. I don't think there's any way you could even try to compute odds on that happening again ... tennis took some safety measures in terms of where players sit in proximity to the stands and having someone always literally watching their backs. There's no sure way to avoid all danger when you're dealing with people who are deranged, unfortunately.
What do you know about Ziomora Morrison? I got a chance to see her last Saturday and was very impressed with her. She looked like she could be HUGE upgrade over Appel. Do you think she has a shot at making the Stars roster? And what are your thoughts on Shenise Johnson and how she might fit with the Stars, she was very impressive! I think we hit the jackpot with her! And finally who do have winning the NBA title this year? hint - GO SPURS!! ;)
Mechelle Voepel (2:14 PM)
I think Dan Hughes is pretty savvy about bringing in people he thinks really can make a contribution. Several SASS fans have communicated that they liked what they saw of Morrison, and that there is still concern - maybe even a LOT of concern - about Jayne Appel's development. In the end, this is what training camp is for ... you wish it was a little longer and that everybody was there for it, but ... like we were talking about with the Olympics disrupting the season, there are certain unfixable things about the WNBA scheduel. As for Johnson, SASS was thrilled to get her and I think she has the right mentality to learn from all the guard experience at San Antonio both with the players and coaching staff. As for the NBA ... I'm bad enough trying to "pick" winners on the women's side which I supposedly know something more about. :)
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
How big of a deal is Griner's injury. Broken wrists are what, 2-4 months...she withdrew from the Olympics a good month before the injury happened which puts her ETA still weeks before the season and this isn't a Jeff Kent or Terrell Suggs situation, she's still in college, she has no professional commitment to abstain from ANYTHING at this point in her life. Although I fully admit I find the image of a 6'8 woman surfing on a longboard amusing, there was Nothing wrong with it since it was during the off season. So why the headlines, seems like much ado about nothing. She'll be back for her senior year.
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
Last year at Big 12 media day, Griner told a story about how she had to jump off her long board one day and then it ran out into the road and got run over by a truck and broken in half. I was thinking that was scary, but Brittney just smiled and brushed it off. Coach Kim Mulkey has let BG be the "big kid" that she is. Whether this accident will change BG's attitude toward riding longboards, we will have to see. Because she could have broken her wrist in a lot of other ways, too, so I'm not necessarily saying she shouldn't ride if it's something she gets great enjoyment from. Everything is a calculated risk, right? As for as "why the headlines" ... it's still news when the top player in the women's college game breaks her wrist.
Danni (San Antonio)
What do you think is going on with Jayne Appel? She got some good playing time Saturday in the preseason game here is SA and I expected to see an improved confident player. Instead what showed up on the court was a player that looked scared and lost on both ends of the court playing with ZERO confidence. This is her 3rd year, shouldn't she have a better handle on the system? She was passing up WIDE open looks at times she wasn't even covered, she would give up on a play at the first sign of contact and showed no hustle on either end of the court. I had high hopes when we drafted her but am starting to wonder if she is built for the WNBA both mentally and physically. Is she one of those made for the NCAA but can not make the leap to the W or is she just not suited for San Antonio? I really believe this is a make or break year for her.
Mechelle Voepel (2:21 PM)
You may be correct about this being a make-or-break year for her, at least with the SASS. I wonder ... do other SASS fans feel this same way about Appel?
kevin (macon ga)
Since Seattle lacks the salary cap space to sign her, where will Svetlana Abrosimova sign now that she unexpectedly has her summer free?
Mechelle Voepel (2:25 PM)
Part of it may depend on where she's willing to go. Abrosimova has some positives in terms of experience and scoring ability. She's still more of a high-risk type player than some teams might be really comfortable with, but she could be an asset off the bench for a few squads. Or she could potentially start for a franchise such as Tulsa that doesn't appear to have much to lose. But she'd have to be willing to be on a team that was trying to build something positive, as opposed to being a cog in Seattle, which she knew was at least very likely to be a playoff team. Maybe she rests and waits out the early part of the season - or even the first half of the season - and sees what the best situation is.
There was a story about the NCAA's concerns about transfers. I've never understood the NCAA's stance that a recruit commits to a school because the NCAA legally set it up that way. I'm am sure that was at the behest of the schools. I would bet 99% plus recruits commit because of the coach and current situation at a school. Is there any logical reason you can think of why a recruit who hasn't set foot on campus as a student shouldn't have an opportunity to opt out if the coach leaves?
Mechelle Voepel (2:27 PM)
The NCAA rules are set up stacked in the favor of the institutions as opposed to the student-athletes. But I think if a coach leaves, a student-athlete should be allowed the option of transferring without a year-sitting-out penalty.
Mechelle Voepel (2:29 PM)
But I'm usually on the side of the student-athletes and not the coaches or administrators. Must be my natural wariness about authority. :)
kevin (macon ga)
Since the W isn't going to bring back inactive roster spots, should they be looking at an Injured Reserve system similar to the NFL, so that teams like this year's Mercury don't have to play shorthanded all year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:30 PM)
Yes, to me that's one of the biggest issues that can be fixed ... and should be.
How does the addition of rookies and new coaches help the Tulsa Shock's showing in the WNBA this season?
Mechelle Voepel (2:33 PM)
I keep saying that the Shock is going to be better but the record probably won't reflect it. It's hard to ask fans to sit through one more single-digit victory season but ... maybe this time the Shock really hits the lottery jackpot. And Griner's wrist heals very well. :)
Arnold Ziffel (Hooterville, USA)
The SEC is getting a bevy of new coaches next season. What's your view on the new hires at Auburn, Ole Miss, and Miss State?
Mechelle Voepel (2:40 PM)
First off, Arnold, I owe you an e-mail ... I am a little backlogged on answering them. Sorry about that, but I appreciate your correspondence. Second ... as to the SEC ... all three of those coaches mentioned are coming in after having significant success at other places. Auburn's Terri Williams-Flournoy is now at a school that has a huge facility upgrade from where she was at Georgetown, and we'll see just how her recruiting pipeline continues in Alabama. Adrian Wiggins did a lot positive in Fresno, which had been a mess. Now he'll try to breath new life into Old Miss. And Vic Schaefer was the perfect fit, in my opinion, at Mississippi State. He's been ready to be a head coach for a while. It's a new era in the SEC with Coach Summitt no longer running the show on the Tennessee sidelines and with Texas A
How did UNC land such a haul in Women's college basketball recruiting? Who does Tennessee need to get them back to the Final Four?
Mechelle Voepel (2:47 PM)
Yeah, that's something isn't it? Clearly assistant Trisha Stafford-Odom has been a boost to UNC, having come over last summer from Duke. (What intrigue *that* is!) Carolina has usually recruited well over the years, but this is quite a haul. The questions remain, though: How exactly to they find spots for all those currently on the team, the 2012 signees, and those from the class of 2013 who've given verbal commitments? Aren't we sure to see a few transfers from Carolina over the next 1-3 years? And will this talent actually develop well enough and play well together? As for Tennessee, I know a lot of Orange fans were - and maybe still are - apoplectic over the UNC windfall, and worried that they are really falling behind in recruiting. But the new-look Tennessee staff is only now really just in place ... they are going to have to hit the trail -figuratvely speaking - hard now and try to catch up, if you will. Tennessee has good recruiting coaches in place.
Damian (Brooklyn N.Y.)
Who do you think should be the x-factor for New York to have a successful season?
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
Two things, potentially ... how well will the inside game play and how much offensively can Nicole Powell contribute. Can she have another season more like her 2009 in Sacto? Or is that not going to happen with the Liberty?
UNC got an unexpected recruiting haul last weekend. The kids are young and no LOI have been signed. But what do you think about the situation where several kids decided they wanted to play together and then BAM did it all at once? Some of us thought Hatchell might retire in a couple of years. Guess not.
Mechelle Voepel (2:55 PM)
I think it might turn out great. Or it might be a group of teen-agers who are overestimating their friendship and/or their power once they get to college. Kids are kids ... sometime they think they know more than they do, and sometimes they know more than we think they do. I don't know that anyone is very sold on UNC's development of players, frankly. Can the Tar Heels change that perception with this group? Will they all (or most of them) get along OK? Like I said, it could be an awesome thing for Carolina women's basketball or it could implode a bit. For the sake of the sport, I really do hope it works out.
Danni's opinion of Appel seems to be higher then most SASS fans I have talked too. You can read some of them of the SASS Facebook. I heard there was a group of fans looking to take up a collection to buy out her contract. She is to the Stars fans what Richard Jefferson was to the Spurs fans. (OUCH!!!)
Mechelle Voepel (2:55 PM)
OK, that is "ouch!"
Bob (New England)
Is it me or is WNBA.com getting even worse? A week until the season starts and no mention of online coverage/LiveAccess or any update to last season's console. A Transactions page that's updated once a month if we're lucky (but with everything backdated to make it look like they're awake, of course). Nothing remotely worth reading among the few articles they bother to post. By the looks of it, no fantasy game of any kind for this season to attract fans and add thousands upon thousands of hits to the website. The League's single-most prominent portal to its fans is a running joke among that same group.
Mechelle Voepel (2:56 PM)
Whenever I speak with Laurel Richie, one of the things I tell her is that the hard-core fans are critical of the Web site and that they usually have great ideas for how to improve it. I'll pass on that message again.
The President of the United States running for reelection was able to come out in support of same-sex marriage. Young people (perhaps student athletes...) seem very supportive as well. Do you see a time in the near future (outside of Portland State University) when women's hoops isn't so closeted?
Mechelle Voepel (3:01 PM)
Yes, I do think we keep edging nearer to that time. Most coaches will tell you the biggest issue is still parents in regard to recruiting, and that's changing with the changing generations. The "fear factor" is so enhanced when people stay in the closet instead of living open lives and letting people know the "gay" or "straight" question about coaches should be irrelevant. The question should be, "Is this a good person to be in a leadership position for young people?" And that has nothing at all to do with sexual orientation.
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
Thanks for the questions. Next week we'll do it again. Be careful on your longboards, everybody. :)