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!
Is it time for the WNBA to expand the conference finals to a best-of-5 series??
Mechelle Voepel (2:08 PM)
I was talking to a WNBA official about that in Phoenix on Tuesday, so I think the idea has at least been floated at some point. I'd like at some point to see the conference finals be best of five games and the finals be best of seven. But now? I'm not sure if that's feasible economically, and then you're also adding length to the WNBA season and shortening the already small gap between the end for the WNBA year and the start for other leagues.
kevin (macon ga)
The WNBA decided to only release the totals for the top five vote getters in MVP voting. That's in stark contrast to the NBA, which posted complete ballot-by-ballot breakdowns of every vote. What is the W trying to hide?
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
Do you really think they are trying to hide something, or is it just that the WNBA doesn't usually release information like this in great depth? Whenever there is a question like this, I tend to lean toward the idea that the WNBA did what was most expedient for their staff. I'm not being snarky. I just think that's a reality. I don't see it as a conspiracy to hide anything. Maybe I'm not suspicious enough? :)
kevin (macon ga)
Will Geno Auriemma get in trouble for contacting Mo'ne Davis?
Mechelle Voepel (2:18 PM)
Which, of course, leads well into this question. I don't think he will get in trouble, and I don't think he should. His explanation that he thought it would be a nice thing to call this youngster after her performance ... the fact that she's from Philly and mentioned UConn ... I just don't see it as a big deal. And since she's only in eighth grade, I don't see how it's a violation of any kind. At this point, how good a basketball player do we know for sure she is? And if she is good, how do we know what will be a good fit for her when she's older? I just think it was one of those things that happens, though, because the battle for young minds that is recruiting brings out the pettiness in most everyone. :)
Who do you think will be the more dominant center in the series, Griner or Fowles?
Mechelle Voepel (2:23 PM)
That's probably the most interesting and intriguing individual battle of these finals. I think Fowles is enough of a veteran that, as long as she's healthy, she is pretty reliable and predictable. Griner has been unstoppable when she's gotten her hands on the ball close to the basket in the last four games. But she's also had times where she's not been as dominant as I think she could be. So this is going to be a big early test in Griner's career. Fowles, I think, is the most difficult matchup Griner could face at this stage in her career, because Sylvia is big, strong, experienced, and will not back down. I think this time, Fowles will have a little bit of an edge, but it won't be enough for Chicago to win this series.
Who do you think on Phoenix will be primarily guarding EDD? Bonner, Dupree or Taylor?
Mechelle Voepel (2:27 PM)
DeWanna Bonner is the designated primary defensive "stopper" for Phoenix, especially against perimeter players. So I would think under normal circumstances, DB would have a lot of responsibility for guarding Elena Delle Donne. However, if EDD is still bothered by her back and it impacts her movement and the amount of time she's on the court, Bonner may be spending more time on other Sky perimeter players. No matter what, if Phoenix is at its best, neither Bonner or Taylor will be totally left on an island defending anybody. The Mercury do a really good job this season of bringing help effectively.
Did you not predict that the Sky would finish DEAD LAST in the Eastern Conference?
Mechelle Voepel (2:32 PM)
Yes, but I don't feel that bad about it. When we were making the predictions in May, Sylvia Fowles was sidelined, I'd heard Epiphanny Prince might take some time away, and Swin Cash had been traded. So I thought the Sky might really struggle. Which, frankly, they did for a lot of this season, especially since EDD was also sick and Courtney Vandersloot got hurt. I've gotten to where I really think you could pick the East standings by coinflip and come as close as using so-called "expertise." But the Sky really came around by the time of the playoffs, which is when it counts. I think it's great for the Eastern Conference, although it's kind of sad that Indiana coach Lin Dunn won't get to go out of coaching with one more trip to the Finals. She'll always have that 2012 title, though.
Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)
Dear MechelleCould you see Becky Hamon coaching in the WNBA?
Mechelle Voepel (2:34 PM)
Yes, I could see her taking for a head coaching job in the WNBA someday if the right opportunity came up.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Is it short sighted for the W to go so heavy on hard and fast dates for TV...something about a likely PHX Sweep being completed in UIC Pavillion when it could have been avoided just by pushing the date back 2 days doesn't make a lot of sense...at all
Mechelle Voepel (2:38 PM)
I think the playoff schedule is done well in advance with ESPN and NBA-TV, and there just isn't much wiggle room. They set TV, and then if there is arena conflict - which has been the case before, unfortunately - they deal with it. I heard from some Minnesota fans that if the Lynx had won, they would have had to play in St. Paul because the big Target convention that is this weekend at the Target Center. At least, I think that's the event. So that's the case, that would have been weird, too.
How much do you think the condensed schedule has effected teams in the playoffs? Both the Lynx & Fever looked tired near the end.
Mechelle Voepel (2:40 PM)
Maya Moore said after Game 3 that both teams definitely were tired. That said, it was some pretty good basketball those two teams played, so I'm not sure it had a huge effect on them. And since every team is pretty much dealing with the same schedule, I don't know that it would favor one team a lot over another. Some teams have a little deeper bench than others, but it's the time when mostly your top players are going to be logging the majority of minutes no matter what team you are.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
The POINT is that the TV needs to be flexible. It's a credibility issue...this doesn't happen in the NBA...you move the dates, even if it means a time buy. and NBATV is just a local feed so I don't buy that part 1 bit.
Mechelle Voepel (2:46 PM)
A lot of things that happen with the WNBA don't happen with the NBA.
kevin (macon ga)
Will we ever see Lauren Jackson in the W again?
Mechelle Voepel (2:52 PM)
I want to say yes, but it's starting to look more doubtful, isn't it? She will be 34 before next WNBA season, and it seems she hasn't been close to really healthy the last several years. Even in her best seasons in the WNBA, she had physical issue. You wonder, with two WNBA titles, if she feels she has any truly compelling reason to come back - unless she thinks she can help the Storm win another title. And considering the strength of the West, you have to wonder if Seattle can realistically contend for a championship in the next few years when LJ might still be able to return.
John CT [via mobile]
Mechelle which team has the best opportunity to dethrone CT
Mechelle Voepel (2:54 PM)
South Carolina. At least from a talent standpoint. Let's see how well that team learned from the good and the bad of last year, when the program had so much success but seemed to go a bit flat in March.
kevin (macon ga)
True or False: Lindsay Whalen is a better PG than Dawn Staley was.
Mechelle Voepel (2:59 PM)
And while we're talking about South Carolina ... I think if you look at their professional careers in total - and Whalen is not done yet - you have to give the nod to Whalen. Statistically, you can make a good case for Whalen as one of the best point guards in WNBA history, and she's stayed been fortunate to stay really healthy. She's become a stronger defensive player, and she sees the court as well as anyone. She has gone away from the 3-pointer as part of her offensive arsenal, but she's still a high-level scorer when she needs to be. Dawn Staley was a fantastic PG, but she really had a lot of knee issues for most of her career that were quite painful. And she never really was surrounded by the talent that Whalen has had both in Connecticut and Minnesota. But ... ultimately, I give the edge to Whalen. And she's still just 32, and may play a while longer. She was the most consistent player for the Lynx in these playoffs.
Any hope for the Sky to beat Phoenix?
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
I guess there is always hope. But ... not really. It's just hard to envision. If Minnesota couldn't beat the Mercury twice in a series, I don't see how the Sky could beat Phoenix three times in a series. But the Sky has been the underdog in both their playoff series so far, so they are used to that. And if nothing else, it's good for a franchise that had never even own a playoff game before to now be in the Finals. It's something the Sky can build on.
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Tune into Game 1 on Sunday in Phoenix.
Mechelle Voepel (3:05 PM)
And, for whatever her flaws, Joan Rivers made me laugh a lot at times. Especially back in the 1980s when she was guest-hosting on Carson often. Comedy is a hard gig, and unfortunately it's always been harder for women. She worked her tail off for many, many, many years and went through a lot of hard times. She was a survivor, and I'm sad she's gone. RIP, Joan.