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 (2:07 PM)
Good afternoon. I am back from the U.S. Women's Open - Michelle Wie major breakthrough - and some vacation spent watching my nephew do cannonballs into the pool. Ready to splash down back into the WNBA world. Just don't make the questions too hard. :)
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
How topheavy is the W right now...looks like 2-3 dominant teams then a whole bunch round 500...right now dead worst team in the W is measured by loss column permutations...legit or is this just a quirk of a compressed schedule
Mechelle Voepel (2:11 PM)
Wow, is that the truth. I have not done power rankings the last couple of weeks - my editor, Mel Jackson, has picked up that chore - and we were talking about that same thing. It seems to me it's the nature of the league in general, just more so in 2014 with the schedule. Twelve teams, at least some premiere talent on all of them, and a schedule short enough that logjams are pretty common.
Shelley (San Antonio)
Are you surprised at how the Stars have played this year? Outside of two games, they've been in virtually every game and had a chance to win several of the games they've lost.
Mechelle Voepel (2:14 PM)
I was surprised at first, but after seeing them in person a couple of times last month, I had a better feel for them. Danielle Robinson is playing so well, and they have very good chemistry. They just seem able to hide (or at least try to compensate for) some of the team's weaker elements.
Given that Alexis Jones has left Duke and is looking to be closer to home....... where do you think she will land?
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
If it's really about being closer to home, one would guess Baylor or Texas would be high on Alexis' list. If it's more a case that she just wanted to move on - and it makes sense, I think, to sit out this year anyway considering how late in the last season her knee injury was - then we could see other schools in the picture. I'm not trying to suggest that she doesn't want to be close to home. It's just that sometimes when people transfer, they use that as a "softer" way to say they just want out of where they are.
Lynx Fan, CA [via mobile]
What I'm the world is going on with the sparks? Do you think they'll get things figured by the end of the season or it this something we should come a custom to?
Mechelle Voepel (2:25 PM)
A few things come to mind ... the Sparks have had a lot of inconsistency at the guard spots, for a variety of reasons. They are so dependent on their front court most of the time that they are an easier team to figure out a game plan for. The struggles on the perimeter are both offensive and defensive. They've let some opposing guards really punish them, either with scoring or assists or both. LA has to become a more diverse and consistent offense, and I'd imagine what frustrates Sparks fans most is that sometimes they see that, and then it seems to go away.
Jonathan (New York)
The Minnesota roster does not have much length, with Damiris Dantas generously listed at 6-4. Do you see this as a problem if/when the Lynx face an improving Brittney Griner and Mercury in the playoffs?
Mechelle Voepel (2:27 PM)
The way the Mercury/Griner have been playing of late, I would say yes, they could cause the Lynx trouble, for sure.
Sam (LA) [via mobile]
Re: the Sparks so far this season. I'm rather frustrated as a fan. People use the phrase they are still finding themselves. The Sparks returned virtually every key player and had some great pick ups. They shouldn't need to be in a "finding themselves" funk with such returning talent? This team has championship type players yet they can continually find ways to disappoint n be a let down..is candace ever gonna win that title.
Mechelle Voepel (2:31 PM)
I'd guess you represent the general view of the Sparks fan base. So much was expected, but the team just hasn't clicked so far. One thing about the WNBA, though, is that what matters most is how you are playing in the postseason. We've seen teams limp into the playoffs, but then play very well. Will Candace Parker win a title? I say yes, but I imagine she thought she'd have one by now.
Is it likely that the WNBA will expand and maintain a league of 20-30 franchises in the next 20-30 years? Or is the market just too small for such a thing to be possible?
Mechelle Voepel (2:34 PM)
I don't know how close the league is to even getting back to 16 teams, where it once was. The idea of 30 teams seems very, very futuristic to me. I don't want to be pessimistic, but if the league is at 16 teams in the next decade or so, I'll consider that a big success.
Chance (Texas) [via mobile]
How have the rookies looked to you so far? I believe Tulsa has a great team and Odyssey Sims is doing great they just come short on a lot of games! What do you think?
Mechelle Voepel (2:40 PM)
The first-year players really do seem pretty good to me. A lot of the coaches/GMs said before this draft that they felt there were people who might not be superstars (at least not right away) but would be able to help their teams. I'd say that's been the case thus far. As for Tulsa, they are a team that has grown and improved since the season started. They have had a lot of "almost" wins, and they'll have to close the deal on more of those for the rest of the season if they are to make the playoffs.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
No fowles, no prince: No problem...Prince comes back a bump in the road then no EDD but now the Sky Recover with no EDD and no VanderSloot...Pokey for COY???
Mechelle Voepel (2:46 PM)
Right now, Pokey Chatman would be really high on the list of coach of the year candidates. The Sky has yet to really have all of its pieces in place, and yet they got off to the strong start, had a really tough June, but are still right there for a playoff spot. If the Sky can finally get completely healthy - or even somewhat close to that - they could be a pretty strong team by the end of the season. Chatman deserves credit for how she's juggled a lot of different problems the Sky has had to deal with.
What did you think of Jayda Evans' article on the WNBA not doing more for the Pride game?
Mechelle Voepel (2:52 PM)
Jayda is a good friend, and I think her voice is important in the women's game. I understood her frustration with how it sort of seems like people won't just come out and say what "Pride" is actually about. Anytime someone writes a column, you might not agree with all of it, of course. But I think she had some valid points to make. I am not part of any production of the coverage of televised games, so I don't know what went into all the decision-making about how much time was allotted to the "Pride" aspect of the game. However, I know that it *was* considered important enough to ESPN as a whole that they sent me to San Antonio to do a story, and the commitment to LGBT issues is there. As for the league, I think it's taken good steps, but there's a need to keep pushing in that regard.
Mechelle Voepel (2:55 PM)
Incidentally, I can't say I can speak for all the San Antonio fans, but the ones I spoke to all felt that "Pride" was being luke-warmly acknowledged, at best, by that franchise. And yet the fans were still very loyal to the Stars. I think that is probably the case at many franchises - the LGBT fans would like more of an open acknowledgment of their importance to the WNBA, but they are still supporting the league even when they don't get as much appreciation back as they probably would like.
Have you notice Carole Ross kind of hinting that her team (LA) has a low bball IQ? And would you agree that they do have a generally low bball IQ as a team?
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
I actually have not picked up on that from Carol Ross. And I don't feel that way about the Sparks. I don't feel that way about any team in the WNBA. However, I do think some teams have better cohesion with their personnel, and make better decisions on court. But a lot of that has to do with having good guard play. If your guards are inconsistent, it's really difficult to overcome that.
The Mystics had a great start in the season but now they are in the bottom. What happened?
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
I know a Sparks fan said earlier that there was frustration with the Sparks supposedly still "finding themselves." But I think that's more an acceptable answer in Washington. The Mystics really are just not a very dynamic team offensively, and if the offense doesn't get better, then the defense has to. Ticha Penicheiro once told me that WNBA teams *have* to figure out an identity and stick with it during a season. The Mystics seem to be trying to figure that out.
Genny (Western Mass)
Do you foresee any teams that can be up there with Atl, Phoenix, and Minn, or are we looking at the three teams competing for the championship?
Mechelle Voepel (3:09 PM)
At this point, those three clearly seem to be the best. If Los Angeles could get its act together then we might consider the Sparks, too. I know that sounds kind of crazy right now with LA being 6-9 with no consistency. But they still have the pieces to make it happen. Or at least I think they do.
Mechelle Voepel (3:09 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Have a safe Fourth of July holiday, and chat with you next week.