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. I hope everyone is taking good care of themselves as the injury bug seems to be contagious in the WNBA. Yeesh. Let's get started.
Carly (Santa Clarita, CA)
I know the Shock are in dead last and the playoffs seem impossible, but I like watching them play. I have a feeling that they will win some good games and beat some good teams. They have some good young talent like Glory Johnson and Riquana Williams. I just think they need to work on their chemistry and find a coach that works for them. Am I wrong to think that way? Or should I think that they are a loser team forever?
Mechelle Voepel (2:05 PM)
I like that you are enjoying watching the Shock play and keep believing in them. That's just a nice sentiment that you don't hear so much from sports fans. Take me ... I was so excited the Cardinals unexpectedly won the World Series last year, I promised I would not get disappointed by anything that happened this year. Sunday, they lost a 15-inning game to the Royals - the dang Royals! _ and I was fuming. So you have a good attitude. I think we should give Coach K some time in Tulsa, and frankly hope like heck - for the good of the franchise - that they come up with the No. 1 pick in 2013. Nobody except the Chicago Cubs is a loser team forever. Hahahaha.
Mechelle Voepel (2:05 PM)
I couldn't resist.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
Sooo....Angel wants to now rest for the Olympics...or she's Injured...BUT unlike PHX...Meadors is OPPOSING this, she wants to go for it...Who's right...who's wrong, and will it end with Meadors or Angel no longer in Atlanta.
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
Yes, the Angel McCoughtry situation in Atlanta is a bit of a dicey one, isn't it? McCoughtry has a propensity for saying things that can sound a little "out there," and in this case I don't think it was wise to bring up "resting for the Olympics." Yes, the London Games are a big deal ... but her employment obligation is to the Dream. It is hardly the first time Angel and one of her coaches were on different pages, though. So it all may blow over. Or not. We'll see.
Ellen (Lusby, MD)
What's going on with Marissa Coleman? Two teams, three coaches, no real improvement. Will we ever see the Marissa who played those first 3 games of her rookie season? What will it take?
Mechelle Voepel (2:10 PM)
Sometimes it takes a while for things to really kick in for a pro ... but I'm more inclined to say the more time goes by, the less likely that becomes.
I think Courtney Paris has a chance to thrive better in Tulsa. I think her statistics at Atlanta are misleading because Atlanta usually has deep post depth and made a high percentage of their shots as a team. With Tulsa, Courtney will be the main anchor inside.
Mechelle Voepel (2:12 PM)
I am not entirely sure how great a fit it is on court, but considering the Shock's record ... it's not like they're only missing one thing. And it is a great fit in terms of the fan base, of course. The "other" CP3 is back in the state that really loves her. I sincerely hope it works out.
Can we expect many more injuries this season?
Mechelle Voepel (2:13 PM)
Unfortunately, considering all we've seen so far, I'd say the probability is yes. It's a grind, we all know that. Maybe the time off for the Olympics will help ... for those athletes not playing in London, that is. For them, this is going to be a very long summer/early fall.
kevin (macon ga)
Is there anyone in the WNBA with pressure to win a title like LeBron James has? Are Tamika Catchings or Candace Parker close to that level?
Mechelle Voepel (2:18 PM)
Obviously, the external pressure on LeBron James is completely different because of the massive, global attention he gets. He probably feels "judged" all the time to some degree, by the "lack" of a title. Which could be remedied soon. Internally, though, I think it probably is similar ... especially for Catchings, because she's almost 33 now. In fact, it might be that winning a title is even more internally combustive for Catching than for LeBron. I say that having never covered him, so I don't have the same insight. But I know it really eats away at Catchings that she hasn't led the Fever to a title.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
Did you see the OTL on Male Coaches...I still say MALE OR FEMALE the best PERSON should get the job...and this year (Dennis Wolff was last year) most BCS schools did just that. (Maybe BC didn't but they're a worse program than people think). How would you evalulate this and do you think the NCAA needs to put some sort of WBB expierience requirements in place for HC hires in D1?
Mechelle Voepel (2:24 PM)
It's not an easy, open-and-shut answer. Yes, I think most rational people are all for "the best person" getting hired at any job. But I think there are concerns about who's usually doing the hiring - and thus deciding who that "best person" is _ and also about how women still aren't making any dent into coaching jobs in men's athletics. I know folks will say, "Not enough women try for those jobs." I understand that. But I think you can be fully supportive of male coaches in women's sports (which I am) and still be concerned that there are not enough women overall in the profession.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
I know the concept because women won't be allowed to coach men any time soon. But Could you give me an available coach that was better than Miller? Schaeffer? Bollant? Wiggins? which were the big 4 jobs where a woman was replaced by men...also Can't use any coach who went to a different school on their own (like KBA or C. Cooper) as they were afforded and accepted an opportunity. Just an exercise before we boo male coaches for being male.
Mechelle Voepel (2:26 PM)
I'm not booing any of those folks. They have all done good work in women's basketball.
Barry (Phoenix, AZ)
The Jayhawk and I are going to the Mercury-Sparks game on Saturday. Will you be there?
Mechelle Voepel (2:27 PM)
No, on Saturday I will be going to Tulsa for the game against the Fever. Will be spending happy Title IX anniversary day in Oklahoma, where there are some good stories to tell. But enjoy the game ... I hope the Mercury doesn't lose any more healthy bodies between now and then.
Ok here is a Mystics question. I read the Mystics messages boards and these fans are on fire wanting to get rid of Trudi. I always like rooting for WNBA underdogs of course lol but I can't believe they couldn't put away Phoenix with all they were missing. I was on pins and needles seeing the Shock not close out a few times. The Mystics fans need a vailum to get through the leads the team has given up. This team is in dire straights. Should they give Marianne Stanley a chance again to lead? People may forget she did take them to the Eastern Finals in the late 90's.
Mechelle Voepel (2:30 PM)
I have a feeling some Mystics fans may have needed valium for a few years now ... or perhaps something stronger. :) I have wondered myself why, exactly, Marianne Stanley isn't the head coach again. The Mystics just have this air about them of not believing they can win games. And some of that - plus the blown leads last year - have to come back to Trudi. That's just kind of the way it is for head coaches.
Naomi (New York)
Why do people continue to compare the WNBA and NBA? Do they really think Tamika and LeBron are on the same par, as it is suggested on WNBA.com front page?
Mechelle Voepel (2:33 PM)
I think it's OK sometimes _ as a frame of reference for excellence in general _ to have comparisons mixing men's and women's sports. I see it not at all as Tamika vs. LeBron - which is silly and pointless - but rather as Tamika vs. her peers compared to LeBron vs. his peers. That said, what WNBA,com might be thinking with the comparison is not something I could be sure of. :)
kevin (macon ga)
I am conflicted about ESPN3 launching a separate ESPNW channel. On the one hand having more women's sports available for viewing is a good thing. On the other it is furthering the ghettoization of women's sports by separating them from "real" sports. Am I over thinking this?
Mechelle Voepel (2:36 PM)
In a word, yes. :) Seriously, I understand what you're saying. I really do. But at some point, I'm just happy when ESPN, or any other entity, puts women's sports on the air in some way so people who want to watch can do so. Especially in this age of "splinter-casting" vs. broadcasting - now that people have so many options and can tailor their viewing to their specific interests - I think this is a great thing.
kevin (macon ga)
You realize that Marianne Stanley's record as a WNBA head coach is worse than Trudi Lacey's was before she became Mystics head coach, right?
Mechelle Voepel (2:39 PM)
I'd be willing to take the risk. :) But actually, the idea of advising the Mystics on anything is probably not really worth thinking about. Unless you're on valium, maybe? :)
Mechelle Voepel (2:40 PM)
I keep promising I'll stop with the Mystics jokes. It's so hard to quit.
Judith (Broiling in DC)
After the Mystics' loss to NY on June 8 that dropped DC to 1-5, Trudi Lacey required every player on the the team to write her a letter, at least one-page long, about why the team couldn't finish and was losing. Since then, they eked out a 1-point win over Indy (scoring only 7 points in the last quarter), were blown out by LA, and last night couldn't beat the Mercury bench. If you were a Mystics player writing a letter today to Trudi, what would it say?
Mechelle Voepel (2:42 PM)
"Trade me, please?" But that woudn't take up a whole page, unless I wrote in first-grade script. I just think the vibe there is hard to overcome. Although I guess you could say there are a few other WNBA teams now that aren't experiencing roses and sunshine, either.
The WNBA is celebrating "Pride" week, do you expect any other players to pridefully emerge for the sideline?
Mechelle Voepel (2:45 PM)
I don't know ... but the fact that the league is celebrating it, and that WNBA president Laurel Richie easily says the words "lesbian" and "gay" publicly, are all good signs.
Do you think men are using the women's game to prepare for a chance to coach a men's team?
Mechelle Voepel (2:46 PM)
A few, maybe, but overwhelmingly no ... most male coaches are in the women's game because that's what they prefer and where they want to make their careers.
Do you think the wear and tear of our Olympic team will cause a less than golden result?
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
Team USA has a big edge in talent, of course, so it would still be highly unlikely to see anything but gold in London. But the injuries already and possibly any distraction with the Geno Auriemma/USA Bball-Kelly Hardwick lawsuit - even though Geno said yesterday there would be no distraction - are little dents in the fortress. That doesn't mean it will fall. But it's maybe just a bit more worrisome for Team USA.
If I wrote her a letter I would say, "Pop yourself a valium quit calling timeouts all the time at the end of the games when the team is ahead and trust us." I am too full on valium jokes lol. Mystics fan need something way stronger though lol. I know it makes the Fever wonder how they lost that game to the Mystics the other night. I am wondering on another note if the Fever can get over that hump if they beat the Sun tonight it would give some glimme of hope. I do want to see Catchings win a title.
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
How did Candace Parker win the player of the week award over Sue Bird and Sophia Young when the Sparks lost twice including by 30 points to Atlanta.
Mechelle Voepel (2:51 PM)
The WNBA picks the winners of those awards ... I'm not sure what their rationale is week-to-week.
In commenting on Kelley Hardwick's lawsuit, it's obvious that the Connecticut sports media is very close to Geno Auriemma. They hang out together on the road, golf together, etc. Do you socialize with the coaches you write about? How do you remain objective?
Mechelle Voepel (2:59 PM)
No, I don't hang out/socialize with coaches or players. At times, I've had lunch or dinner at a restaurant with a coach, but really very rarely and not anytime recently. The folks in Connecticut are in a tough situation in some ways, because it would be hard to cover that team and not have a good relationship with Geno ... he's just a very charismatic person to work with. I know that will irritate some people who don't feel that way, but it's been my experience. The Connecticut reporters may be close to him, but that doesn't mean they don't or won't write things that are critical of him. They are serious journalists. As for objectivity, I think everyone has their blind spots at times. The important thing is to be alert to it, and to not pretend that you never have them. The readers or viewers ultimately will decide things for themselves.
Mechelle Voepel (3:01 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Hope you enjoy the programming and various celebrations on Saturday for Title IX's "birthday." There will always be critics, but this legislation did a world of good for a lot of people. I realize there are those men who "blame" Title IX for their lost opportunities, and I understand their pain. But I think that's misplaced anger and blame. Title IX was and still is necessary for the good of our education system, and the competent and confident women it's helped produce. Chat again next week.