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 (2:01 PM)
Good afternoon! There's less than a month left of the WNBA regular season, and a lot still unsettled. Let's get going.
stever (RebKell Reader)
Is Anne Donovan getting too much flak for the Sun's season so far?
Mechelle Voepel (2:06 PM)
I'm not sure how much criticism she's getting from fans, but I think she was put in a tough situation. I was chatting with some ConnSun fans who happened to be at the Solheim Cup golf event last week that I was covering. I asked them what they were feeling as fans, and they said they felt like some of the players were unhappy with Donovan because of the regime change, when that's really not her fault. Once management made the decision to part ways with Mike Thibault, somebody else had to take his place. But this "discontent" scenario was why I thought the Sun would not be a playoff team this year.
Jonathan (New York)
Do you think Chicago will have success in the playoffs? While Fowles, Delle Donne, and Prince are pretty potent, it seems that the rest of the team remains unreliable offensively.
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
I am not sure if "unreliable" is the right term ... those are three pretty potent scorers, and I think the rest of the squad knows their roles are supporting on offense. But I understand the gist of your question; after all, we saw that Indiana won the WNBA title last year because the Fever had people who had been more in supporting roles step forward in the post-season to carry a lot of offensive weight. I think the bigger questions for the Sky in the postseason are how will they react since this is a first for the franchise, and will EDD be healthy throughout.
The WNBA seems to be a Dickensian tale of two halves with some early hot teams gone into a tail spin and cold/ injured teams gone hot. In your experience, does the 2nd half momentum hold going into the playoffs, or is that the 3rd half so a flip-flop for many teams is likely to occur.
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
That's a pretty good way to put it, in terms of how teams can be cruising along and then start to hit some bumps. But as to how that plays out in the postseason, we've seen a mix. Go back to 2009, '10, and '11 and the team each year that most people would say was "the best" won the title. Then last year, I thought the Lynx were still "the best" going into the playoffs, but they didn't win. I think it's really hard to pinpoint what goes right/wrong in the latter part of the regular season for teams. Sometimes it's injuries, sometimes fatigue, sometimes a tough scheduling stretch, sometimes it's looking ahead to the playoffs and getting just a little lax about taking care of business beforehand.
Charles Bingham (Delaware)
It look likeTulsa is in the lottery again, do you think that Simms is the best fit for them. Out side of the hype Diggins is a bust.
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
The 2014 draft is a long way off, and I wouldn't label Diggins a "bust" just yet. But ... if the Shock do end up in the lottery, which appears likely, and they actually get a No. 1 pick (don't hold your breath with Tulsa's luck), I think Maryland's Alyssa Thomas would be hard to pass up. Just her combination of skills and her physicality. But, again, a lot will happen between now and 2014 draft day.
Honestly, Im not a fan of the WNBA at all. But its hard not to like Delle Donne! If last years draft was done over shouldnt she be the #1 pick?
Mechelle Voepel (2:23 PM)
I thought perhaps EDD's terrific-to-watch game and her "backstory" would lure in some sports fans in Chicago who previously were not interested in the WNBA. It appears that is the case. As for whether she *should* have been No. 1, I still think Brittney Griner is extremely talented and is going to have a very, very good career with Phoenix. Last draft was one of those times when, as I think Rebecca Lobo put it, you had essentially 1 and 1A choices atop the draft, and both were really the equivalent of a No. 1 pick. I don't think Phoenix made a mistake - the coaching change might have been needed even if EDD had been the Mercury's pick - and ultimately, both players have seemed very happy to be with the team they are with and in the city they are in.
Jonathan (New York)
If you are Cheryl Reeve, what is your biggest concern about the Lynx?
Mechelle Voepel (2:29 PM)
Probably two things: that the Lynx may have games where they have lapses defensively, and that they might run into a team that is a little "hungrier" than they are. Because if you look at what happened in the WNBA Finals last year, those are things that hurt the Lynx. Especially not playing defense at the level they are capable of. Maybe Coach Reeve has a tape of Finals Game 3 that she is holding back for the moment she really wants to fire up her squad. But overall, I think the losses the Lynx have incurred in their last 10 games might be used to Reeve's advantage in terms of inspiring the Lynx to finish strong heading into the playoffs. That said, I don't think you can underestimate how difficult it is to maintain long winning streaks in this league when there is talent on every team.
kevin (macon ga)
Gary Kloppenberg's contract is apparently up at the end of the season. Will the Shock make a coaching change?
Mechelle Voepel (2:32 PM)
Let's see how they perform for the remainder of this season; even when they were out of contention for the playoffs last year, they competed well down the stretch. There is no doubt that "we're building toward next year" has worn thin with the fan base, but in some ways Klop has spent last year and this year kind of undoing a lot of the wrong things that were done in the two years before. The Shock will need to look at a lot of things, including how well Klop relates to the players, how they feel about playing for him, how much progress did the franchise actually make this year. I think he deserves at least another season, but let's see how they finish out this one.
Well another season of disappointment with the NY Liberty. Given that the team had players that look good on paper (allbeit some too old) and another championship winning coach who failed to deliver, what will the Liberty need to do to turn the tide & become the winning team they used to be back in the early days?
Mechelle Voepel (2:35 PM)
The Liberty aren't out of the playoff race yet, though; they still could nab a spot. Are they a championship-caliber team? No, not close. I thought if Laimbeer could establish a new mindset and at least make the playoffs this season, that would be a success. Whether those things have or will happen, still remains to be seen.
Chris (Dinkytown, MN)
Should Bill Laimbeer have been suspended for saying that Maya Moore "should be hurt"? It seems that a fine is nothing more than a slap on the wrist for something so egregious; for a mentality that ALL sports seem to be trying desperately to distance themselves from.
Mechelle Voepel (2:46 PM)
That was a ridiculous thing for Laimbeer to say, even if he was ticked off that Moore was in the game when she was. It's none of his business who the other team has in the game and at what time. I'd say that for any coach, not just him. This idea that a pro team has to be worried about another team's discomfort about how bad they're getting beaten and by what players? Give me a break. The idea that Cheryl Reeve had Moore in the game late because she wanted her to get "player of the week" is just silly. Like that's some huge coveted honor that will mean so much to Moore. Please. Laimbeer doesn't regulate himself very well about these things, and it hurts his reputation. Which is a shame, because he does know the sport very well, and he's done some great things for the WNBA. But I understand how - when he says stuff like this - some people really dislike him. Should he have been suspended? Frankly, yeah, I think sitting him at least a game for a mean-spirited - and potentially dangerous - comment like that would have been justified. The last thing the WNBA needs is the mentality that any player should be labeled a "target" for any reason.
jbb1985 (ny hinterlands)
In the past it seems some rare players as soph or later in their career can "double jump" two teams' worth in AA voting (i.e. from Honorable Mention (HM) to 2nd team, or from 3rd team to 1st). A one team jump is much more common. It seems there might not have been a "triple jump" where a soph/ junior/ senior player in WCBB goes from no prior AA status to 2nd team or from HM to 1st team. It appears this upcoming season might have an unprecedented "quad jump" or a "triple jump" with Breanna Stewart not achieving AP All-American HM, and she could look pretty good to AA voters. If you had guess, where is Stewart in pre-season AA -- 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team, if the voters care about precedent before the first dribble, and Breanna had an uneven frosh year that was front- and back-loaded?
Mechelle Voepel (2:53 PM)
OK, wow, when I first glanced at this question, my eyes went to "triple jump" and I initially thought it was about track and field. :) I'm often asked how AP voters "think," and the answer is that everyone has their own ideas about these things, and there is no specified, general thought process that everyone follows. That said, I would guess most people view the ups of Breanna Stewart's freshman year at UConn as the true indication of what kind of player she is, and she'll be on a lot of first-team All-American ballots. She was so dominant in the Final Four, and everyone there saw the player that she had been projected to be. I expect her to pick up where she left off.
kevin (macon ga)
The US Open announced plans for a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. How will that affect play going forward?
Mechelle Voepel (3:00 PM)
I know it's going to cost a lot of money, but I'm glad they are doing it. It's such a bummer during Grand Slam tennis tournaments when there are lengthy rain delays and nothing to watch. I just think it's a good idea to have this option.
Mechelle Voepel (3:01 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. There will NOT be a chat next week, but we will resume the following week.