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 4 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (4:03 PM)
Good afternoon from rain-drenched Rochester, N.Y., where I was supposed to be covering the first round of the LPGA Championship today. But it's been raining non-stop for hours, and other than a few hearty souls who were swinging in the rain at the driving range an hour ago, there are no golfers in sight. Play was rained out today, and they hope they can have the first round tomorrow. It's going to be a mess here, though. Alas, there is something comforting about weather typically not affecting indoor sports like basketball. :) Let's get chatting.
With all the talk about Phoenix & LA do you think Minnesota could sneak up on everyone and take the West for the third year in a row?
Mechelle Voepel (4:05 PM)
Well, that's what I picked - for Minnesota to win the West - not that my predictions are known at all for their accuracy. But the Lynx have most of the same weapons as last year, and they seem to have their chemistry developing well early.
I know its wishful thinking but I hope one day WNBA brings back a team to Sacramento. It seems like so much talent is left out of the league due to it being so hard to make a roster spot. do see an expansion in the WNBA anytime soon?
Mechelle Voepel (4:06 PM)
Every week, there are questions about expansion. I just don't see it as being imminent. But it would be nice to get the league to 14 or 16 at some point in the next decade or so.
Softball(& baseball jointly) are being considered to be added back into the Olympics for 2020. Any chance they get put back into the Olympics over wrestling (
Mechelle Voepel (4:08 PM)
I think that's a possibility. It irks me no end that wrestling and softball, in particular, have ended up in this predicament. Baseball has the Major Leagues and the World Series, which are bigger in the sport than the Olympics. But the Olympics are the pinnacle for softball and wrestling, along with those sports' world championships. There is no way softball and wrestling should not be in the Olympics. It was just more IOC politics, which is a whole other sordid topic.
Emily (San Antonio)
I know it's still early, but what does the win over the Sparks say about the Silver Stars' chances this year? Also, are you and your media friends regretting picking them not to make the playoffs ... AGAIN?
Mechelle Voepel (4:10 PM)
I don't think the "picks" have any meaning whatsoever, and mine are wrong so often I'd be in bad shape if I spent much time regretting them. :) If the Silver Stars can overcome the odds after losing Sophia Young for the season, good for them.
Matt (South Bass Island)
If you were Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve preparing to play the Sky, which starter would you rather have match-up against Elena Delle Donne: Rebekkah Brunson or Maya Moore?
Mechelle Voepel (4:11 PM)
I guess I'll say Brunson - to have a little more bulk and physicality against EDD, not that Maya wouldn't have the latter. It's going to be interesting all season to see how the other teams try to defend Delle Donne.
Matt (South Bass Island)
Which of the following was the most important factor in the Silver Stars' upset win over the Sparks: Alana Beard's absence, San Antonio's bench depth, or home court advantage?
Mechelle Voepel (4:14 PM)
There was an element of all of those, of course, but I'll say Alana Beard's absence was really key. She is the Sparks' top perimeter defender when healthy, and the SASS guards (starters Jia Perkins and Danielle Robinson, and Shenise Johnson off the bench) clobbered the Sparks.
kevin (macon ga)
If Seattle drops from playoff contention as expected, what are the odds they trade Tina Thompson to a team that gives her a chance at a 5th ring?
Mechelle Voepel (4:16 PM)
Tina has a good relationship with Brian Agler and the Storm brass, so I think if the right situation presented itself, it seems like that could happen. I won't count out the Storm just yet, though. :)
Barry (Phoenix, AZ)
Serena or Sharapova?
Mechelle Voepel (4:18 PM)
I always pick Serena. How great to have such a blockbuster matchup in the French Open women's final.
Sofia (Durham, NC)
In tonight's Lynx -Mercury game, I'm pretty interested to see how Phoenix helps Prahalis guard Whalen and what sets the Lynx run to exploit that matchup. Hornbuckle got a lot of floor time instead of Prahalis against Seattle. How do you think the match up of point guards will go?
Mechelle Voepel (4:19 PM)
Lindsay Whalen has the experience, of course, and her team is starting this season with better chemistry than Phoenix. I'll say Whalen and the Lynx will prevail.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the 2013 WNBA Rookie Of the Year?
Mechelle Voepel (4:20 PM)
I picked Elena Delle Donne in the preseason because I figured she would be such a key part of Chicago's attack. So far, she's off to a great start.
How can Chicago avoid plummeting down the standings without Epiphanny Prince?
Mechelle Voepel (4:23 PM)
The Sky knew she would be gone for a stretch with her Russian commitment, so they should be prepared for it. Let's hope the ankle injury Pip had overseas is not that serious. I think this is where the Sky's stars (Fowles, EDD) have to play very big, but they also need to get a collective effort from other players to make up for Prince. I think they will do OK.
In the Spark loss to the Silvestars, Lindsey Harding took 17 shots _ four more than Toliver and Ogwumike combined. Do you think this is something Carol Ross will address with her point guard?
Mechelle Voepel (4:27 PM)
I would guess Harding is aware that's not the recipe for Sparks' success. Toliver wasn't hitting (1 of 8) so she didn't need more shots. But Ogwumike should not have games where she gets only five shots. Harding has won games before with her scoring, and I think sometimes when her team is struggling (in college and the WNBA) she has tried to carry the load herself. But that's not an ideal situation for the Sparks.
MARI IL [via mobile]
Can Delle Donne be better than Taurasi or is that too much and if it is who would you compare her potential to
Mechelle Voepel (4:30 PM)
EDD is just starting out, and she is very promising. But Taurasi is one of the greatest players in women's hoops history, especially in regard to her ability to win championships. We don't know exactly how EDD will do for a whole season surrounded by other talented players, but I think she will flourish. It's too early, though, to start making comparisons against anybody as established as DT. But do I think EDD is going to be a major star with MVP potential? Yes.
Matt (South Bass Island)
What are the factors that go through the mind of a GM when trying to determine whether to suspend a severely injured player recovering from surgery or just keep them on your team's 11-player roster?
Mechelle Voepel (4:32 PM)
I think it's one of the hard decisions that GMs face with roster management. They have to discuss things with the player and her agent, and try to predict the future, which can be so tricky in regard to recovery from injuries. They also have to accurately gauge how well their team can play short-handed.
kevin (macon ga)
Does Serena need a second French Open title to be in the "greatest of all time" discussion?
Mechelle Voepel (4:34 PM)
Nope, she's already there. Martina Navratilova only won two singles titles at the French, if memory serves.
Any thoughts on Sally Jenkins recent article on women's basketball?
Mechelle Voepel (4:44 PM)
Sally makes some good points in that story, and I respect her a lot. She is a great, great writer. I don't agree with her in everything she wrote, but I do think there are some things in her column that are good food for thought. The NCAA tournament is an issue I've thought about a lot ... would the women be better off financially and fan-wise to have early rounds at home sites and then have an Elite 8 or Even Sweet 16 in one site over a few days? I know it would be a big change, but has women's college basketball been trying too much to emulate the structure of the men? As for college coaches' salaries, they are out of proportion in a lot of places, but I'm not sure how you backtrack on that. But there also is still sexism that women have to deal with, and that filters into how the game is promoted by schools and how it is covered by the media. And how it's accepted - or even given a chance - by fans. That is a real part of what WBB has to deal with. Same for all women's sports. That said, more creative thinking would help at the college level for women's hoops.
Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles and Brittney Griner were all placed on your list of top 5 centers. With Nneka Ogwumike playing the power forward, do you think there is a good chance that all 5 of these post players make the 2016 Olympic Team? Or is 5 post players too much?
Mechelle Voepel (4:47 PM)
I think it's at least possible all five make it on the U.S. team. BTW, we put Parker as a center even though she is a C/F ... Carol Ross said she does not distinguish between her post positions. We run into this "what position is she really?" issue all the time in both college and WNBA when we try to do top fives.
Mechelle Voepel (4:49 PM)
Thanks for all the questions ... I will now get in my canoe and leave the golf course. Just kidding. I think I can just swim out. Ha-ha. Chat with you next week.