Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (2:06 PM)
Good afternoon! Let's get started.
kevin (macon ga)
Where does the founding of the WNBA rank in David Stern's legacy?
Mechelle Voepel (2:14 PM)
As for David Stern and the WNBA ... funny you should ask. :) I am writing about that now for a story that will be on ESPN.com Friday. I talked to Val Ackerman, Donna Orender and Laurel Richie about working with Stern, who has short-term firm goals but also long-term vision about everything.
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
I think the WNBA is a very important part of his legacy, and will be even more appreciated as time goes by. The league would not have launched when it did without him, and he has been steadfast in his belief in it. But Adam Silver, who is taking over for Stern, was also in on the ground floor of the WNBA, helping to write its original business plan. He is also invested in the WNBA's future.
Buzzmaster (2:29 PM)
Hey folks, Mechelle ran into some technical difficulties. We'll get it straightened out and have her back chatting tomorrow.
Mechelle Voepel (2:00 PM)
OK, happy Friday. Let's try this again.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
How strong is the upper Middle Class of WCBB's 99% (aka not Uconn or ND) Maryland got tripped up by a UVA team in disarray, Baylor got KOed by lowly Kansas and taken to OT (on a shady clock review) by a strong but 2nd tier OK St team and Nebraska dodged 2 bullets before getting smacked around by NORTHWESTERN of all people, is the middle that mediocre or is it strength in numbers of high quality teams providing hard competition in the major conferences
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
If you're asking how much parity there is beyond the very top teams, I would say there is a quite a lot. The ACC showed that Thursday night with some of the "upsets" and almost upsets; same for the SEC. I do think most of us who follow women's basketball know this ... but if UConn goes unbeaten and wins a title, the people who don't follow the sport will just say there is no parity based on the success of that one team. Grumble.
Kimberly (New Albany, MS)
What's your opinion of Oklahoma Women's Bball team this year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:12 PM)
I would imagine they are disappointed in themselves so far. They lost at Kansas State this week; Oklahoma had not done that since 2004. It seems like the Sooners have not been the defensive team they hoped to be. There is still time for them to turn things around, but right now they are middle-of-the-pack in the Big 12, and that is not where most expected them to be. And the same goes for Iowa State.
jbb1985 (Arnold's illegitimate owner's shack)
Is PSU the best of the Big Ten, when the Midwest dust settles (or ice begins to thaw a tad)?
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
I think so. Don't ask me, then, who is the second-best. :) Is it Michigan State? Maybe. There is a lotta logjam in that league.
kevin (macon ga)
Larry Burnett suggested Tuesday that the W would make a statement about the Sparks "within the next week". Is that a realistic time frame?
Mechelle Voepel (2:18 PM)
Heck, why not? They've had time to work on it, and if there are the multiple investors that Larry suggested there are, then the league has options that don't have to include moving the franchise. It's time to get all this stuff cleared up ... the CBA, the Sparks, the date of the draft.
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
Tamika Catchings is in Kansas City as a keynote speaker for a luncheon today. I talked to her yesterday. She said she was optimistic that the CBA would be done "soon." For whatever that is worth.
Dave (Cleveland, Tn )
If ND convincingly beats Duke on Sunday, will voters consider giving ND 1st place votes in the Polls? IMHO ND has more depth and great guard play.
Mechelle Voepel (2:22 PM)
I would be really surprised if anything short of a loss knocked UConn out of No. 1. The Irish may indeed have more depth, especially with the injuries the Huskies have dealt with. But in regard to guard play, UConn's guards are superb, too. We just won't know how these two teams match up head-to-head unless they meet in the NCAA tournament, of course.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Never got this answered last year, but still curious about it. If Uconn and Baylor had met in the 2013 title game, who do you think would've won? Before the tourney, the obvious answer was Baylor, but that was really before B. Stewart emerged and added a completely new element to that Uconn team.
Mechelle Voepel (2:24 PM)
We will never know, but considering how Oklahoma State almost caught up with Baylor in the Big 12 tournament, and then Louisville beat Baylor ... I think the edge would have gone to UConn had the Huskies and Bears met in New Orleans. Baylor was showing a few cracks in the armor, and UConn was not by the time the NCAA tournament started last year. It would have been a fun game if it had happened. No offense to Louisville.
The Big 12 has won 2 of the past 3 national championships and continues to lead the country in attendance. Yet, in polls and bracketology, the SEC, ACC and teams like Duke and Maryland continue to get more of a "bias." Why?
Mechelle Voepel (2:31 PM)
Do you think there is a bias? I live in Big 12 territory, and I am lukewarm on the league. Maybe I'm judging it harshly compared to past years. The poll voters are spread out across the country, and the idea is that it cancels out geographic bias, which is usually inadvertent anyway. I was surprised Iowa State was still ranked in the last AP poll ... they've been on a major skid, and I haven't had them on my ballot for a couple of weeks now. As for the past NCAA champions, one of them, of course, is no longer in the Big 12. :) As for Bracketology, Charlie is using a mathematic formula (procedures and priciples) and, yes, applying some judgment calls. But I really don't think "bias" is coming into that. He really is always looking at it pretty scientifically, if you will.
jbb1985 (East of the Abbey)
Which of the close calls or actual upsets surprised you the most from yesterday evening's games: Duke-Miami, MD-NC St., UK-UGA, 'Cuse-UNC, or Cal-Stanford?
Mechelle Voepel (2:36 PM)
Syracuse winning at North Carolina surprised me most. Not that I don't think the Orange are good, but I was not expecting them to get the win in Chapel Hill. Miami can be a "danger" road game for any of the ACC teams, and has been before. I actually did wonder if Duke was going to make it out of there with a win. Kentucky is struggling with consistency. Maryland is, too. And Cal is supposed to make Stanford sweat. :)
NC State's current turnaround from its past couple of seasons is phenomenal: what's Moore got as a coach that Harper didn't? Or is it more than the coach turnaround?
Mechelle Voepel (2:41 PM)
He's definitely got seniors who have bought in, both as leaders and not just adjusting but thriving in his system. I've said this before on a chat, but Wes Moore was not *that* optimistic that the Wolfpack would be this good at this point in the season. He credits his seniors, particularly the leadership of Kody Burke, and how well his guards have shot the ball. I think Kellie Harper is a good coach, but she was in a tough situation replacing Kay Yow, and maybe the team really did need a fresh voice with Wes.
Yvonne (Cold North)
What are your thoughts about potential 1 or 2 seeds, ND, Louisville, and Stanford, hosting the regionals. How can this be fair to the rest of the field?
Mechelle Voepel (2:44 PM)
This is a one-year situation, going back to the way the tournament *used* to do things. It will return to neutral next year. But I think it was a mistake to do this even for one season. The regionals should be at neutral sites, and even the coaches who are hosting them this year think so.
Matt (South Bass Island)
Which game will feature the more intriguing player match-ups to watch on ESPN/ESPN 2 this Sunday, Notre Dame @ Duke or Stanford @ Cal?
Mechelle Voepel (2:48 PM)
Notre Dame vs. Duke should be VERY interesting in many different ways. Don't want to make the folks on the West Coast mad ... it's just that I've been looking forward to ND vs. Duke since the schedule came out. It's the biggest thing going on for me Sunday. :) Even bigger than the Puppy Bowl.
Brandon (Nashville, TN)
The cities for the 2017-2020 WFF came out, and there are some head scratchers in the list i.e. Pittsburgh & Columbus. Do you think those cities have a chance over say Dallas or Houston? What about another FF on the West Coast? Seattle maybe? Also, is there a lot of talk about the FF this year in Nashville? We are hoping to put on a great show for everyone!
Mechelle Voepel (2:55 PM)
Actually, I really like both Pittsburgh and Columbus. Seriously. OK, especially Pittsburgh. I just genuinely think it's a cool city to visit. As for Dallas and Houston ...zzzzz. Maybe I've been to both too many times. I will go to Seattle anytime anyone wants to send me. That is an awesome place to visit, even in the rain. Then again, I spend 99 percent of my time at the Final Four indoors with my laptop, so anywhere is fine. As for fans ... I think they probably like warmer weather and more activities/night life. I have no doubt Nashville will be great. It's a fun city, hopefully it will be warm or at least not too cold, lots to do, and the state of course has a big women's basketball fan base.
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
By the way, the last time I was at a basketball tournament in Nashville (SEC tourney in 2012) I had my car in a parking garage that I didn't realize locked up at 10 p.m. So I was stuck downtown and had to get a hotel room there and wait until dawn to get my car. Same thing happened to a photographer at the tournament. So I don't hold that against Nashville (we both just missed the sign on the garage) but ... parkers beware.
If Lacob doesn't end up getting the Sparks, how long do you think we wait before they give him an expansion team?
Mechelle Voepel (2:59 PM)
Can I vote for immediately?
A'ja Wilson ... I've read UConn, UNC, USC and Tennessee. Who do you think she ends up with. She'd be excellent, teaming up with Breanna Stewart down low at UConn.
Mechelle Voepel (3:06 PM)
How do you read a teen-ager's mind? Glad I don't have to. From what I've seen/heard of her, she will team up well with anyone anywhere. I can't speak for women's basketball fans, but were I to try to read *their* minds ... I'd bet most of them who aren't fans of any of these four teams *desperately* would prefer A'ja stay home to play for South Carolina. Just my speculation. :)
Irving Matchen (Washington DC)
We are deep enough into conference play now and there have been some surprises (we like that); who do you see surviving to win the ACC?
Mechelle Voepel (3:06 PM)
Sticking with the Irish.
Whose idea was it to have Bill Walton call a NCAA women's basketball game? :P
Mechelle Voepel (3:09 PM)
I think Rebecca Lobo's husband, Steve Rushin, made that call. He thought it would be hilarous. Just kidding. You know it was ... different. :)
jbb1985 (Arnold's illegitimate owner's shack)
Besides the old standby, the long-awaited Godot game between Tenn.-UConn, what game that isn't going to happen would you most want to see in the NCAA's -- ND vs. Stanford, Duke vs. Stanford, L'ville vs. ND or for sheer different styles, UConn vs. UNC?
Mechelle Voepel (3:13 PM)
OMG ... the LAST thing I want to see is UConn vs. UNC. That is control vs. chaos in UNC's most veteran years. This "year of the freshman" at UNC ... please don't even put the vision in my head of UConn scoring 5 million points off UNC turnovers. So ... with that out of the way, I'll say Louisville vs. Notre Dame.
Robbie (Catonsville, MD)
What's wrong with MD?
Mechelle Voepel (3:18 PM)
Good question. I imagine Brenda Frese is asking herself the same thing. Is there a confidence problem of sorts that started with the loss to U.Va.? Some kind of chemistry issue? Or is it bad luck that they caught two hungry teams who play well at home (Virginia, NC State) sandwiched around a team that is just really, really good (Notre Dame)? Whatever it is, the Terps have a dangerous game coming up Sunday at Syracuse, because the Orange will be tough at home, too.
Mechelle Voepel (3:20 PM)
OK, sorry about the chat issues on Thursday. Hopefully, we'll be back on the regular day next week. Thanks for all the questions. And remember, we all win with the Puppy Bowl!