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June 24, 2:15 PM ET
Chat with Mechelle Voepel

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:19 PM)

Good afternoon! I believe Tina Charles is finished with her chat, so I'm coming in off the bench!

Rommel (Phoenix)

With all of the recent injuries, do you see WNBA rosters being expanded to 12 next year?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:22 PM)

I don't think so, unless there is some big change in the overall economic picture for the league/society in general. There have been big-name injuries this season, for sure, but really there are a lot of injuries that teams have to deal with *every* year. I don't necessarily see a correlation between 11-player rosters and a great amount of injuries ... more that basketball as a sport simply produces a lot of injuries, and likely more so when players are competing as much as then do when combining overseas and WNBA.

Mary (WV)

My question has to do with the way WNBA players have commitments to their international teams and wind up having to miss most or all of training camp, and possibly a few opening games, too. Has there ever been a concerted effort by FIBA or some similar entity to coordinate things and tighten up the foreign schedules to accomodate all the players' various commitments to the WNBA, the international teams, and their national teams (not to mention giving their bodies time to rest and recuperate)? Or do the other countries just think that would be another example of the imperialist Americans always wanting everybody in the world to do things their way and on their schedule?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:27 PM)

It would be a lot like herding hundreds of cats ... except, um, harder. The overseas leagues will say, "Hey, we have to do what's best for us." And the bottom line is, there are only so many days in the year, and the sports calendar fills up quickly. Do I think FIBA could possibly try just a bit harder help with this process? Yes, I've always suspected it could. However, I am not sure there is any really satisfying solution in the foreseeable future. I used to get worked up over it, but at some point just decided it probably wasn't going to change.

kevin (macon ga)

Did you see the study showing that less than 2% of sports news on TV covers women's sports? What can be done to reach a more equitable allocation of time?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:31 PM)

It's a combination of the fact that women's sports does face an uphill battle getting public attention and advertising revenue for a lot of obvious reasons ... and the fact that the sports media world is the least diverse of any media world. And the downturn in the economy, of course, just made that more the case. In other words, they keep showing what they've always shown, and there are not enough voices who say, "Hey, what about this?" to even begin to counterbalance that. I think it still comes down, though, to the fans of women's sports continuing to demand their needs be met, or at least marginally respected. A lot really is put on women's sports fans to basically "work" to get coverage, and I wish that wasn't the case.

Rich (London)

I asked this back when the Zellous trade happened, and we were both giving him the benefit of the doubt - after the Pierson trade, I ask again: does Nolan Richardson know what he's doing?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:36 PM)

This question - or variations of it - has been posted by several different people. Really, there's no way someone who had never been involved in women's basketball before is going to step in and, over a few months' time, be an expert in it. More likely, that person, no matter their previous success, is going to make a lot of mistakes. And we've seen that so far. How much of this is ego/"my way or the highway" and how much is just inexperience with dealing with these players and evaluating them? That remains to be seen by what further personnel moves are made.

kevin (macon ga)

Do you think cheerleading should be counted as a sport for purposes of Title IX compliance?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:42 PM)

Well, obviously, there are a lot of different interpretations of "compliance" ... counting cheerleaders as part of the proportionality "prong" would seem, in theory, reasonable to at least consider. (IF they were counted on both the men's and women's sides, as there are cheerleaders of both genders.) I am always more open to the idea that "sports" can be very broad-based in terms of "definition." Cheer squads require a great deal of physical fitness, of course, and athleticism and teamwork. I would say I lean more toward saying yes, they could count.

Helen (New York)

It's a yearly discussion re the impact of draft picks on attendance/media coverage, so in the "Maya Moore Sweepstakes" what team would reap the greatest off-court benefit from getting the #1 pick.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:46 PM)

It would seem impossible that any team wouldn't benefit tremendously not just because Maya is so great a basketball player, but so terrific a spokesperson, too. For the last couple of years, I've thought it would be great for the league if she ended up in New York. But if she were to be in a place like Tulsa, she could be a really big, big deal in that town/region. A big fish in a small pond, and that would also be a good thing for the WNBA.

David (Dishin )

Diana Taurasi said in an interview that in the near future she'll have to decide when to take time off, and it isn't going to be in the European season. What will the impact of a Taurasi or Catchings sitting do to the league?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:53 PM)

This is another question that has been posed a few times. I think if players are really worn out and need a break and their WNBA teams are paying them less than they're getting oveseas, then their WNBA teams should work with them and figure out a way to make it the least painful to the franchise. If that means, for example, the Mercury accepts that DT doesn't join the team until July, then so be it. By the same token, though, the players union needs to be pro-active about discussion the risks to the future of the league that could come if a lot of marquee players take a lot of time off from the WNBA. I think it's a tough balancing act to figure out how much the players have to think of themselves and their earning potential, and how much they need to think of the greater good of the WNBA's future.

kevin (macon ga)

The first results from All Star voting were strange, with Jayne Appel having one of the highest totals. What can the WNBA do to keep some sanity in the process?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:58 PM)

This is the question that's been asked for years about baseball, too, though, of course. Usually, the right people do end up making the team, but whenever you have fan voting, there is the potential for weird things happening. I still say it's the game is for the fans, so ultimately they should get who they want to see.

Daya J (Boston)

do you have any two teams you think can make it to the championship by the way they are playing now?

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:00 PM)

If I were picking right at this moment, I'd say Seattle and Indiana. And wouldn't that be an interesting finals, for many reasons. But there is a lot of time left for that to change.

Ryan F. (Tiburon, Ca)

How has Chicago won so many games with Kraayeveld and Christon averaging a combined 16 pts and 6 rbs?

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:03 PM)

I give credit in particular to Jia Perkins and Dominique Canty being pretty solid in their production on a team that has only one real "star" in Sylvia Fowles.

Arty (NJ)

Hi Mechelle,-Really enjoy the terrific insight in your prolific (!) writing for ESPN.-Does your busy schedule ever allow you to check out evolving team chemistry at nearby UCONN or the Sun during practice???

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:04 PM)

I actually don't see much practice at all because I don't live really "close" to any WNBA teams. I write for ESPN.com but am based in Kansas City. However, the addition of Tulsa to the league has been great for me ... that's an eight-hour round trip, which is the closest I've ever had a WNBA franchise to me. Will be going down there again this weekend to see the Liberty and the Storm.

kevin (macon ga)

What's more annoying, Thunder Sticks or Vuvuzelas?

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:09 PM)

You know ... I really am never that "annoyed" by loud noise during games ... I've probably sat in too many "quiet" arenas - like at my alma mater, Missouri - to ever be bugged by noisy arenas. I guess if I were in person at the World Cup now, I might start to get tired of the horns. But I also might not. I kind of enjoy noise _ unless I'm on deadline. :)

Jono (Atlanta, GA)

Do you see the Sparks getting Courtney Paris in the near future?

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:14 PM)

Depends on whether Courtney is *really* completely healthy and can actually help this team ... and not just someone they "hope" can help. The Sparks shouldn't give up on their season because they've lost Candace Parker, though.

kevin (macon ga)

Who's not in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame that should be?

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:18 PM)

If I can, let me actually answer a slightly different question ... *what* is not in the H of F that should be, as opposed to *who.* And I'd say there is not really enough of a feel of the history of the NCAA tournament, plus not a really thorough depiction of the best rivalries over the years.

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:19 PM)

Well, thanks again for the questions, folks. Chat with you next week!