Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (3:01 PM)
Good afternoon, and hopefully everything will work well this week. The questions from last week are still in here, so to the degree that they are still timely, I will try to answer some of them, too.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Do you see Dream-Lynx rematch for the title?
Mechelle Voepel (3:06 PM)
I picked the Lynx to win the championship this year; so far, they are playing quite well ... except at LA. I think Minnesota has a very good chance to make it back to the finals; had to be encouraging for Cheryl Reeve how good they looked last night even without Augustus. As for Atlanta, we saw them at far worse than their best last night. They have some depth injuries like Tiffany Hayes, and Minnesota is just a tough place to play. Can Atlanta make the finals for a third time? Yes, but we just didn't see the "real" Dream last night.
kevin (macon ga)
What are the chances that Becky Hammon's knee injury is career ending?
Mechelle Voepel (3:07 PM)
I don't think she will let it be. Obviously, she is near the end, and will be 37 by the start of next WNBA season. But I don't think she is emotionally ready to step away, and if she can take the time to heal and rehab, I believe we will see her back for perhaps a couple more seasons.
kevin (macon ga)
The first two 9 for IX films have been good, but both seemed too short for their subjects. Is ESPN limiting the films about women's sports to one hour, or will some of the later ones be more in depth?
Mechelle Voepel (3:10 PM)
I believe they will all be one hour. Admittedly, a Pat Summitt film could be as long as "Dr. Zhivago" and "Gone With the Wind" combined, and many of us would eagerly watch the whole thing. But, realistically, an hour-long window in prime-time on the main network is pretty good treatment of this series, I think.
Will we still see the Indiana Fever in the WNBA playoffs or have the injuries put them in too big of a hole to make it this year?
Mechelle Voepel (3:15 PM)
This was one of last week's questions; the Fever have now won three games in a row, and at 4-7 overall, certainly are in the playoff picture. The hole really isn't that deep at all. But this depends, as usual, on the Fever getting healthy. They've treaded water, actually, better than we might have expected considering how many things have gone wrong. So if enough folks can come back relatively good by late July or even in August - and nothing else major goes wrong - the Fever could be dangerous again come the end of the regular season and the postseason.
The NCAA punished Baylor coach Kim Mulkey for her criticism of the refs vs. Louisville. A lot of people feel Mulkey was correct in what she said. Do you think the NCAA will now finally address the poor state of officiating in the women's game, especially if they watched the game?
Mechelle Voepel (3:22 PM)
I think the Louisville-Baylor game will, to a degree, live in infamy in some folks' minds. Which I do understand; the officials did not have their best showing that day. But ... the officials didn't hit 16 3-point shots. There are polarizing views of this game, and there is the view that both sides have legit points. As for as the officials, though, I think they do work harder than they are given credit for in regard to improving and evaluating mistakes. People complain about officiating/umpiring at all levels of every sport. Especially now with everyone having high-def TV and slow-mo, it's easier than ever to second-guess, and see things in a way the officials don't get to see them. I also think when people are fans who are hoping for a certain outcome, they really see things more with their hearts than they can even admit. I'm subject to that myself in my "fan" sport, baseball, at times. Ultimately, I understand why Mulkey was upset, but at some point the reality is that the officials didn't lose that game for Baylor. She and Baylor had opportunities to win, but they did not. Louisville did a lot right, regardless of the calls that were made/not made.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
With Uconn's AD Stating that they will not chase a new conference. The question needs to be asked, over time, will Geno be able to sustain his National Success and Recruiting in the very weak WBB Wise AAC?
Mechelle Voepel (3:27 PM)
I think UConn will continue to be a success as long as the Auriemma/Dailey stewardship is in place. (I don't know what will happen after that; not saying it will be bad. Just hard to envision them not there.) UConn women's basketball has become a brand name that is bigger than the conference it is in. UConn remained a popular choice for recruits despite playing in so many -let's be honest - crappy Big East blowouts. Now, don't get me wrong: I think this is a terrible conference, awful travel, too many dull match-ups. But UConn has the cache to rise about that, plus it will put all the more emphasis on their "interesting" games. Also, while the AD says he is "not pursuing" anything else, I believe that like I believe all ADs ... which is to say, virtually never. He is saying what he needs to say, though, because they're going to have to make the best of it until/unless something else comes along.
Jonathan (New York)
Last year Chicago traded the no. 2 pick for Swin Cash. Looking back, would the Sky be a stronger championship threat today if they used that pick to take GloJo?
Mechelle Voepel (3:31 PM)
I think this hits the heart of trades/predicting the future. We all knew Glory Johnson was an exceptional athlete, but she had some ups and downs during her Tennessee career. I thought she would blossom as a pro, and probably a lot of other people did, too. I know Brian Agler really debated in regard to taking Stricklen or GloJo with the No. 2 pick. What would Chicago have done if it had kept the pick? Easier to say in retrospect. Another thing, of course, is that Chicago wanted someone with WNBA championship experience to help foster that mentality, and Cash has that.
kevin (macon ga)
Steph White was given a "promotion" to Associate Head Coach for the Fever. Are they grooming her to replace Lin Dunn? Is Dunn considering retirement?
Mechelle Voepel (3:34 PM)
I don't think Lin is thinking of retirement just yet, but she will be 67 next season. White wants to get back to being a head coach at some point, but she's not going to leave for just anything. She's pretty happy with the Fever, doing broadcast work in the off-season, and raising her little son. So I think she'd really like to stay with an eye on moving into the Fever head coaching job at some point in the next few years. Now that Dunn has a championship, she may feel a little more like she can craft her exit - whenever that is - more to her liking.
Jerod (Bangor, ME)
Do you think Corey Gaines is the right coach for The development of Griner? And do you think Phoenix would be better off with a new coach.
Mechelle Voepel (3:37 PM)
I think Gaines knows what he's doing, but he's never had a player like Griner before. I still think she and the Mercury are finding their way together. Let's see how the rest of this season plays out and how comfortable she is able to get with how they play. I think it will work out.
Who is your starting five for each side in the WNBA All Star game?
Mechelle Voepel (3:44 PM)
Right now ... let's go with these. East: McCoughtry, Delle Donne, Pondexter, Catchings, Fowles. I know, leaving off Charles is a question. West: Taurasi, Parker, Moore, Glory Johnson, Whalen. Should be a fun game to watch, especially with a few new faces.
What's up with Sammy P.'s rapid decline into irrelevance in Phoenix??
Mechelle Voepel (3:47 PM)
Last year, with all the injuries and whatever else was going on with the Mercury, Prahalis got a lot of time, of course. With the team back closer to full strength, she just doesn't have those opportunities. The Mercury are at their best with the ball in Taurasi's hands a lot. I just question whether Prahalis will be a really important player in that system with DT playing full strength/full time. We'll see, but it's a really different scenario than last year.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
One difference between the bad Big East and the AAC, the big east had teams with strong and large men's budgets who could grow a women's program to boost Uconn's Cache (Louisville, Georgetown, WVU, and to a lesser extent Cuse and STJ) Aside from MAYBE memphis, the ACC doesn't have that...Sounds more like what happened to ODU and La Tech, who people said the same thing about and both are now as mid major talent wise as their conferences despite their best efforts.
Mechelle Voepel (3:51 PM)
I can see those parallels to an extent, but I don't think UConn will diminish to a large degree. ODU and La Tech as universities don't have all the advantages that UConn does, even when you put aside conference affiliation. I'm not saying UConn doesn't have concerns, but I just don't anticipate they are going to fade a lot and do so quickly.
What are the chances the Sparks get four players into the All-Star game?
Mechelle Voepel (3:52 PM)
I think three is probably more likely.
kevin (macon ga)
Poor Marion Bartoli gets swept aside in Murray-Mania, and the only story that resonates about her win came from a stupid, sexist comment by a BBC announcer. Is it really necessary for female athletes to be judged by appearance over performance?
Mechelle Voepel (3:59 PM)
A rhetorical question, right? :) I don't know that it will ever "change" completely, but it comes down to the media being held accountable for things like this. If the BBC guy would have said the same thing about Andy Murray, what would have been the response? If this guy got fired for his remarks about Bartoli, would others think twice about letting such drivel out of their mouths? It really comes down to how much responsibility the media will take for doing this, and trying to change a mentality. By the way, did anybody see that recent clip about Dustin Hoffman talking about his "revelation" while portraying a woman in "Tootsie" back in the 1980s? He said he realized that he had been - as he said - "brainwashed" into ignoring women who didn't reach a certain level of attractiveness to him. He got very emotional about it, and I think that was because in playing that role, he really had to *feel* like he was this woman who was not considered "attractive." Empathy can do a lot for your views on your fellow human beings.
Keith H (Seattle)
I'm thinking I really miss Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. Next year can't come soon enough (unless the Seahawks just go nuts this year).
Mechelle Voepel (4:01 PM)
Definitely have sympathy for Storm and SASS fans, both being without their "dynamic duos." Good luck to the Seahawks. :)
Can you give your impressions thus far of Pokey's offensive schemes? Seems there is alot of standing around while a player goes 1-on-1. Worries me.
Mechelle Voepel (4:04 PM)
I didn't like the way they played against Seattle (of course, Fowles was out) but they were pretty good in New York and today against the Mystics. Fowles was excellent today. I think there are some times when the Sky doesn't seem as cohesive an offensive unit as, say, Minnesota. But ... Chicago is 9-4, so I'm not going to be very critical. :)
kevin (macon ga)
After Monica Wright's performance last night, I heard that Kevin Durant got marriage proposals from at least a dozen other WNBA players and a couple of NBA players. Can you confirm this?
Mechelle Voepel (4:06 PM)
Hahaha! I was going to say, engagement sure seems to agree with Monica Wright. :) Perfect timing, too, with Seimone getting hurt, and the Lynx needing a lift from another scoring source. Having gotten to know Monica a bit during her college and WNBA careers, I think she's a top-notch person. And it seems like Mr. Durant is a good guy, too. Congrats to both of them.
Mechelle Voepel (4:08 PM)
Thanks for tuning in again! Sorry about last week's chat issues! Have a great rest of the week. I will be motoring down to Tulsa tomorrow to see if the Shock can own their home court or the Sparks can win their first road game of 2013.