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December 22, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Mechelle Voepel

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:02 PM)

Good afternoon. Hope everyone's holiday plans are shaping up well. Let's get started.

Gilda (New York)

Nneka was amazing in the game against Tennessee. What's your take on how the rest of her team performed?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:06 PM)

Overall, I though Stanford played pretty well. Toni Kokenis had 26 points and Chiney Ogwumike 14. It was just one of those games where the Cardinal knew it had a weapon the opponent could keep up with. Feed the hot hand. I do think Tennessee had some weariness, being on a long road trip, that kept them from being as sharp defensively as they can be. But that isn't to take away from Nneka or Stanford. They just dominated that game.

jbb1985 (ny)

Of the remaining undefeated teams not named Baylor, such as Maryland, OSU, Texas Tech, Green Bay, Delaware, and Colorado -- who do you think holds up best when their schedules get much tougher?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:08 PM)

The one school on that list that I think has the most to prove in terms of whether the record is legit or not is Colorado. Especially because the Buffs will be starting play in a new conference, so we'll have to see how well they adjust. I do think the other five are going to do well in their conferences. We'll have to see about the Buffs. But it would be great for that program if this strong start is indicative of what's to come.

kevin (macon ga)

Christine Flores and Missouri have looked good against a weak early schedule. Can they contend in the B12?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:13 PM)

Flores is a good player, and Missouri competed fairly well in certain Big 12 games at home last year. I will be very surprised, though, if they "contend" in the league. I do not think that will happen.

jbb1985 (ny)

If there was one Big XII team that could beat Baylor this year on their home court, who do think that might be, or do you see Baylor, after wins over ND, Tenn, and UConn, running the table until the NCAA's start given their remaining schedule?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:15 PM)

Texas Tech and Texas AM are the best bests to upset Baylor ... Tech won at home last year against the Bears. Right now, you wouldn't think Oklahoma would be able to do that, but you just can't count out the Sooners, especially at home. That said, I also won't be surprised if Baylor does get through the Big 12 unscathed.

Levi (Oklahoma)

The Tulsa Shock have more or less said their coaching serach is down to 5 candidates with the coach to be announced after the New Year. One has WNBA head coaching exprience while the others are top assistant coaches. Is this too late to be announcing a coach? Or is this crossing the i's and t's? I am not for sure but whomever gets the job he or she needs some time to work the kinks out. I think due to the Olympics this must be a May start to the season not giving too much time.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:18 PM)

It's not really too late ... it's in keeping with how a lot of things are done in the WNBA, for better or worse. In talking to a couple of WNBA coaches this past weekend, they weren't sure what direction the Shock might go, but your summary of the coaching search is accurate. Whoever gets the job has a lot of work to do, but I do think there are enough people involved in this organization who really care that this can work out. But it's going to take a multi-faceted person to get it done right.

Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)

Do you feel courage or insanity at Gemelos saying she wants to try to play somewhere next year? Shouldn't your body be telling you something by the 5th ACL?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:24 PM)

Everybody has a different tolerance for pain/disappointment. Jacki obviously has a sky-high tolerance. Basketball is something she clearly loves very much, and maybe she thinks that she's finally going to reach a point where she will get and stay healthy. She's 23, and probably feels that she has the rest of her life to NOT play, so she is trying to keep that window from shutting - even if that means going through yet another rehab. I admire that, because she's being true to how she feels.

Helen (New York)

Just because they're out of the headlines doesn't mean they're out of mind: how are the folks at Oklahoma State doing?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:29 PM)

Sometimes the demands of the season are a good way for people to deal with their grief. I remember Baylor's Morghan Medlock, whose mother was murdered during the season a few years ago, said people kept asking her how she could play despite going through that. And she said that playing was what *got* her through it; the thing she dreaded was when the season was over. Jim Littell has been named head coach at Oklahoma State now - the interim is off his title - and he's been very much a stabilizing factor for the Cowgirls. I think that for some of them, though, they may find that there is still a grieving period to go through - when they won't have the season to occupy their minds.

Helen (New York)

So, is UCLA the next volleyball dynasty?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:32 PM)

Dynasty? I don't think so ... I'm not sure we will see a run quite like Penn State's four in a row again soon. The Bruins will have to get a new setter for next year, although most of their other weapons return. Speaking of Penn State, they were still very good this year in a so-called rebuilding season, and look out for the Nittany Lions next season.

kevin (macon ga)

What should we make of South Carolina walloping North Carolina?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:34 PM)

It was a really nice win for the Gamecocks, and a pretty embarrassing performance by the Tar Heels. UNC has traditionally not challenged itself much in the non-conference, and that may have had something to do with this. It sure seemed that South Carolina took this game a lot more seriously than UNC did.

TheTruthBelow (Carolina)

Why would LA want Tina Thompson to return? Ogwumike is clearly ready to contribute right away, and the Sparks already have Parker, Lavender and Hoffman (and Milton-Jones, if necessary). Five posts is normal, but one obviously has to sit. Pringle would make more sense, right? Also, any news on Penicheiro?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:39 PM)

It seemed to me that Sparks fans were about ready to move on from Tina last year. Like they thought she was not 100 percent emotionally still involved with the game. So we'll see on that one. As for Ticha, I last talked with her in October. She said then that at one point during last season, she was thinking, "This is it. I think I am ready to be done with playing in the WNBA." But then, she got her second wind. So she said she would see how she feels in January and February, and make a decision then. It seemed to me that she was leaning more toward returning.

Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)

Are you surprised that Uconn has done as well as they have. I had them 4th or 5th and as a sweet 16 team and no one has really stepped up and become the star there. It reminds me of the mid 2k teams that were good, but not Uconn. But yet he still beats stanford and Texas AM

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:41 PM)

I have to say I was pretty impressed with the Huskies against Baylor. They were up by 11 points at one juncture, they did a decent job against Brittney Griner in stretches, and their defense was smart/tough for a lot of the game. That was just a fun game to watch in terms of both teams' athleticism and confidence. I think, if that game was an indication of how well UConn will be playing in March, then the Huskies are in the championship mix again.

Mel (MN)

How exciting in person was the final point in the volleyball semifinal match between Illinois and USC last week?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:43 PM)

It was kind of surreal, actually, because USC was playing to stay alive, yet both teams played that point as if their lives were on the line with it. I've watched it again a few times, and there are still moments when I think, "That ball has to be down," but it isn't. :) That was a very entertaining match overall ... USC played the three best matches in the tournament, in my mind, with that one and the two regional five-set victories over Hawaii and Pepperdine.

Judith (Home of Gridlocked Government)

Speaking of walloping, how about that Miami disaster at Georgeown yesterday? The 'Canes shot 21%... Just one of those things that will never happen again?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:46 PM)

Lots of questions about this game. I think it says a lot about Georgetown's perimeter defense ... but I also think that pre-Christmas games where players are thinking about other stuff (and sometimes having just finished finals) can produce some results that are unexpected. Not so much that Georgetown won, but that Miami played so poorly. Not a good thing to dwell on for the Hurricanes.

Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)

Where do you draw the line with cupcakes? Uconn has suffered plummeting attendance with too many cupcakes being a common complaint. While cupcakes are nothing new and are important to developing a team, where is the line with how low a major program should step while scheduling. And with the new RPI rule adding points just for being on the road, will you see it getting worse instead of better, with home and homes against teams with no business playing those teams.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:51 PM)

I don't think anybody enjoys watching these kinds of games, and I'm not sure what good teams gain from them. As far as where the "line" is, it's wherever each coach decides it is. I understand it can be a balancing act when you are a mid-level program trying to gain ground but also needing to have a certain amount of "sure" victories. But I think some coaches are also afraid to challenge themselves and their teams. Ultimately, it just makes us appreciate the actual competitive games even more.

Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)

Prospect question: Is there anyone worth taking past the 5th pick this year, if so who, or is it just better to trade out and stockpile for 13's crackerjack class?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:58 PM)

The WNBA coaches I've talked to still seem pretty "blah" on the 2012 class, unless we get a surprise player or two who bypasses remaining college eligibility because they are eligible for the draft. That said, there are still a few months for some of the seniors to make a case. But in general, there don't seem to be many game-changers available.

Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)

one post mortem on Baylor Uconn, is it refeshing to have a top tilt be as good as advertised rather than some of the poor games we've had in past years (2010 final, Uconn Duke) that we have something to build the game on...and do you think we have more WBB fans today than we had last saturday?

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:02 PM)

Absolutely, it was a big deal for this game to be so entertaining and exciting to watch. As for whether that translates into more fans ... it can't hurt. Monday morning, as I was checking out of my hotel in Waco, I was talking to two little boys in the lobby with their mom. They were telling me how they got to go to the Baylor game the night before. I said, "Who's your favorite player?" They agreed it was a tie between Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims. That pretty much made my day, that they were so excited about women's basketball.

Mechelle Voepel
  (3:03 PM)

Hope everyone's holidays are nice. Thanks for all the questions. Chat with you next week.