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 (3:57 PM)
Hi folks. Am on some golf duty today, so I may have to keep the chat short. We'll get started a bit early (for a change) and try to get to as much as possible.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Ackerman Report on the whole: Accurate, Too Harsh, Too Light, Focusing on the Wrong things, or wait and see what is implementable.
Mechelle Voepel (3:58 PM)
I go with wait and see what is implementable. There were things in there that are good suggestions, but we don't know if they will actually work unless they are tried. Some things I didn't agree with. On the whole, I think it's positive that the NCAA wanted her to do this and is publicizing it.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Val deflected this in the way only Val can (Gave me WNBA memories LOL) But did you find it disturbing that her survey included issues regarding the appearance of the athletes (namely Tattoos). I dunno but I was having Rene Portland nightmares on that one and I know other fans were offended. When will we move past this...PLEASE!!! For it to be in the Ackerman report just made me sad!
Mechelle Voepel (4:00 PM)
Agree ... didn't like that at all. Nobody needs to be telling players what they are "supposed" to look like, or how they should express themselves through dress, etc. If that's what someone thinks it takes to supposedly make the sport more popular, forget it. I don't buy it, and it is wrong-headed. We've had too much of that in the past.
Most surprising team so far this season, either good or bad?
Mechelle Voepel (4:01 PM)
Well, the Atlanta Dream sure has surprised me, but maybe I was just so far off in my evaluation that it's really *not* a surprise. But I have been impressed with how well Atlanta has played. I think everybody is.
Tom (San Francisco, CA)
Still hearing nothing from Baylor and Kim Mulkey. What gives?
Mechelle Voepel (4:03 PM)
I assume Baylor/Kim Mulkey feel the less said on the situation with Brittney Griner, the better. They may feel it's best to not talk about it. I don't know if they are at some point going to feel "forced" to talk about it, or if they will steadfastly avoid it.
ladybears4eva (los angeles)
Former Baylor Players have gone on interviews talking about how supportive Mulkey, staff and Baylor nation is to the women's basketball players regardless of secual orientation, and they all acknowledged many lesbian lady bears in the past? Why is this BG/mulkey situation any different?
Mechelle Voepel (4:11 PM)
I always got the sense that Griner and Mulkey got along and had a good relationship. I don't know exactly what happened after this season to change that, or if I had a wrong reading of it all along. I didn't get any sense from Kate Fagan's story that Brittney had indicated that Kim made it "difficult" for gay players, and I never had that vibe, either, in covering the program. I can understand the former players defending Kim; I respect their loyalty and I think they are honestly communicating their positive experiences. But I can also understand if BG feels a little frustrated that she was told to keep "quiet" on something that was fundamental to who she was. It has always been my reading that Kim Mulkey does not "meddle" in players' personal lives. But maybe she felt it necessary to tell BG to stay quiet because she thought she was protecting BG, as well as protecting her own interests in recruiting. This is a complicated situation. We have a lot of people in the country - a lot - who may not be homophobic, but still aren't comfortable with public acknowledgment of it. I would guess all of those things factored in with what's happened.
kevin (macon ga)
Will the Fever's injuries put them in a hole that's too deep for them to get out of? They remind me of the 2002 Monarchs, who started 2-14 when Yolanda Griffith and Ticha Penicheiro got hurt then finished 12-4 when Yo reentered the lineup.
Mechelle Voepel (4:13 PM)
Good comparison. It depends, of course, on how well the other teams in the East play - in other words, how deep the hole ends up being. I think with the news of Katie Douglas' extended time out, on top of everything else, there have to be some real worries in Indy.
Is the ref cam supposed to serve any functional purpose, or is it just a gimmick? Keep it or ditch it?
Mechelle Voepel (4:14 PM)
Seems gimmicky to me, but what do you guys think as fans?
It's still early in the season, and there's a lot of basketball still to play, but do you think Elena Delle Donne is the leading contender for Rookie of the Year? Who was the last number one draft pick to not win ROY?
Mechelle Voepel (4:18 PM)
The Sky lost this afternoon, of course, but yes, EDD has had a really nice start to the season. If I end up being right in my prediction that she would be ROY, then that ups my "winning" percentage on predictions to about .00006. :) As for the last non-No. 1 to be ROY, I believe it was Armintie Price in 2007, when she was No. 3 behind Lindsey Harding and Jessica Davenport. I think before that, it was Temeka Johnson, who was the No. 6 pick in 2005.
It's a moot point now, since she's already on the job, but do you think Rutgers should have found somebody else to be their athletic director instead of Julie Hermann?
Mechelle Voepel (4:22 PM)
I think Rutgers and Hermann should have been much better prepared to deal with scrutiny into her past. Instead, they weren't prepared at all. It's an NYC media market; it amazes me how unprepared they were. I actually do think she was a good hire, and can do the job. But why Hermann didn't think her past would be a factor and understand that it needed to be acknowledged publicly upfront by her, I don't know. That baffles me. Now, she's made it much more difficult to have a successful stay there, because she's starting with so much negative baggage.
Todd (New Jersey)
Are you as surprised as I am that the Storm are currently 3-3? If the Storm somehow make the play-offs, is Agler a favorite for Coach of the Year?? Can Tina Thompson's name be thrown into the MVP race as well??
Mechelle Voepel (4:24 PM)
Yes, I am surprised, considering the absences of Sue Bird and LJ. Good job by Agler so far. As for Tina Thompson, if she can manage to help get this team to the playoffs in her final season in the WNBA, I'd guess she will be getting some attention in regard to MVP. What a finish that would be.
kevin (macon ga)
Will we ever see Cheryl Ford in the WNBA again?
Mechelle Voepel (4:25 PM)
With a player past 30 and a history of physical issues, you just can't tell. Laimbeer didn't let sentimentality get in the way of making the right roster move, but I know he would like to coach Cheryl again at some point.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who was your Preseason Pick to be the 2013 WNBA Champions?
Mechelle Voepel (4:25 PM)
When will Becky hammon and Sophia young be returning to the silver stars and what kind of impact will they make?
Mechelle Voepel (4:27 PM)
As far as I know, we won't see Sophia Young until next season back in the WNBA, and Becky Hammon is still uncertain as to when she will be able to play. Clearly the Silver Stars miss their leadership and experience. They are just two of the most dependable vets in the league when they are healthy. And great teammates to younger players.
Tulsa definitely looks better this year, but their win-loss record is still pretty dismal. Do you think things will improve for them, or will they be cellar dwellers again this year? What do you think is their biggest missing piece?
Mechelle Voepel (4:33 PM)
The Shock got a good win today over the Sky, with strong offensive performances from Riquna Williams, Nicole Powell, Glory Johnson and Candice Wiggins. In general, though, I think one of the bigger things they're missing is another really consistent rebounder beside Glory Johnson. With Liz Cambage and Tiffany Jackson-Jones out with injury, that leaves the Shock often playing pretty undersized, and GloJo can't average 20 rebounds a game all by herself. Although I'm sure she's trying. As to if they can avoid the cellar ... yes, but they need to get healthy. Something you can say about other teams, too, though.
Ivory Latta for MVP? Right now, I can't think of anyone who'd deserve it more than her. Maya Moore would be my second choice, though.
Mechelle Voepel (4:34 PM)
Ivory has been terrific, and it's a good indication of how well Mike Thibault prepared to take on the Mystics. He knew he wanted Latta's leadership as a centerpiece for this team.
Mechelle Voepel (4:36 PM)
Sorry I can't go longer on the chat today. Thanks for all the questions! I will be at the U.S. Women's Open next week, but hope to still have Thursday's chat. Will update via Twitter.