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February 20, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Mechelle Voepel

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:01 PM)

Good afternoon. I admit to being somewhat distracted during this chat, as I'm watching the USA-Canada gold-medal women's hockey game. I will blame that for any bad answers. Let's get going!

jbb1985 (watching Women's USA Hockey)

Is WVU vs. Baylor going to be close, or WVU just the next Big XII contender turned into a very good team, but pretender, by Sims and squad?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:06 PM)

Since that game is at Baylor, I don't have as high a hope for a really close game. The LBears have been so good at home, even challenging UConn there. Baylor, of course, won the first game between these squads this season, at W.Va. Last night's Mountaineer annihilation of Oklahoma State certainly suggested, though, that W.Va. is the clear No. 2 now in the Big 12. I am going to see W.Va. at K-State on Saturday; look forward to watching them in person.

glenn (Fresh Meadows)

WHAT The hell happened to Oklahoma State on the Mountain last night and should there be panic in Stillwater over it?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:09 PM)

That was brutal, and considering how bad it was and how late it is in the season, I think there should be some real worry among the Cowgirls.

Al (Columbia, MO)

Mizzou's Robin Pingeton has a nice recruiting class assembled for next season. Do my Tigers finally make the tournament again?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:10 PM)

Maybe so! She does have a good class, and the Tigers have played better in the SEC than I think a lot of us thought they would. The problem is there are so many good teams in the SEC, and it's hard to climb. But there are a lot of good signs at Mizzou.

glenn (Fresh Meadows)

Who suffered more Tuesday: St. Johns with another very bad RPI loss to lowly rival georgetown, Depaul losing a chance to take the lead losing to Marquette or the Big East trying to get a 3rd team in with their elite both stumbling badly?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:11 PM)

The Big East, I'm afraid.

Adam (Miami)

I know Arizona has a strong recruiting class led by Taryn Griffey, but at 5 and 20 (1 - 13 in the Pac 12) and 61 and 69 in her 5 and a half now six years is it finally time to cut bait with Niya Butts and possibly get an experienced mid major coach like a Jen Rizzotti or even a top DI Assistant?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:12 PM)

Maybe one more year, considering the recruits coming in. But if there's not significant progress then, it's probaly time for the Cats to move on.

glenn (Fresh Meadows)

If Geno Runs the regular season (Ville at the bucket only challenge) is he coach of the year given all the injuries?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:15 PM)

He certainly deserves consideration. Depending on how South Carolina finishes, Dawn Staley will be high on the list for COY, too. And how about Kim Mulkey?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:15 PM)

Or Andrew Calder?

glenn (Fresh Meadows)

UConn just won by 50 with 6 active scholarship players and 1 hand tied behind their back! Is Uconn that good...or the AAC below the former BEAST teams that bad?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:16 PM)

Combination of both, I think.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:16 PM)

I am not at ALL distracted by the hockey game, of course. :)

Megan (Cincinnati) [via mobile]

Do you believe the eastern conference will be won by either Atlanta, Indiana, or Chicago? Don't see the other three teams having enough to outlast them.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:18 PM)

Right now ... I will go with Indiana.

kevin (macon ga)

Is Skylar Diggins putting even more pressure on herself to have a great WNBA season by doing so many brand building activities in the off season? Won't the question of whether she is more concerned about improving her personal brand as opposed to basketball be asked even more openly if she disappoints on the floor again?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:21 PM)

Oh, I don't think so. One thing the league has needed is real cross-over appeal beyond just the hard-core women's basketball fans. Skylar is doing that. Obviously, she needs to play well enough to maintain her roster spot and all that, but I think she helps the league with the exposure she gets as a "celebrity," if you will.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:21 PM)

OMG ... the hockey game.

jbb1985 (watching Women's USA Hockey)

What do you anticipate when the disciplined and breadth of ND stars face off against the run-and-gun, many young stars or stars-to-be of UNC?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:23 PM)

If UNC hits perimeter shots, they can challenge the Irish. But I think ND will defend the Tar Heels well enough - and will out-execute them offensively - to win.

Mike (Virginia)

Geno winning COY with Muffet McGraw this close to a perfect season after losing Skylar Diggins??? Sorry, Geno, the AAC ain't the ACC . . .

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:25 PM)

Yeah, I didn't mean to leave out Muffet McGraw in the COY. Of course she's very high on the list. Sorry, the hockey game again.

jbb1985 (watching Women's USA Hockey)

Is Univ. of South Carolina improving its chances of landing SC resident A'ja Wilson by its impressive showing so far? Or in most of these cases do you think the young ladies more often than not pick the nearby school over schools that might provide a better chance to get to FF and win NC's? Or has the latter rationale been making more top recruits like Taurasi and KML leave the west coast and go to the CT hinterlands? They go where the NC is more likely?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:29 PM)

Every kid is different. Taurasi's recruiting was over a decade ago, so it's not too relevant now, of course. South Carolina is a program on the way up, and Wilson is seeing that first-hand there in Columbia. So I don't know exactly what she's thinking, but whatever choice she makes, she'll be going to a good program. She's in a great position.

Rick (Charlottesville)

Is there any one specific thing, something definitive, that the Lady Tigers of LSU need to do to get back on track? While consistent as of late, I think Ballard needs to get back to double digit scoring. Also, while Kenney is a nice shooter, sometimes she takes 3s too quickly and misses everything. Plaisance needs to be a fighter and dominate, and McKinney needs to demand rebounds and make easy layups that I've seen her miss.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:33 PM)

I guess I don't think LSU is really that far *off* track, since their last three losses were at Kentucky, at Texas A&M, and against a very hot South Carolina team. I agree with the things you mentioned as being very important to LSU, but I think they have a chance to finish this regular season very well with Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama left.

Megan (Cincinatti) [via mobile]

If you could place Alyssa Thomas on any current WNBA team based on style of play and current team personnel, who would you choose and why?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:36 PM)

I don't know if I have a specific team in mind at the moment. But more generally, I think a team that could allow her to play more at the power forward position her rookie season and not have to guard some of the best 3 players when she's still young and learning the pro game. Eventually I think she can play both positions, but she'll need to develop her perimeter shot more. And I know there will be times she's undersized at "4" but it still seems like that will be a quicker adjustment defensively for her to the pro game. We'll see.

kevin (macon ga)

First the Sparks sale gets done quickly and with a result that is unanimously viewed as positive, then the CBA gets finished in plenty of time with nobody talking strike or posturing with nonsense about how it's not "financially feasible" to play here. Has anyone had a better year so far than Laurel Richie?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:37 PM)

Got to hand it to her so far, don't we? I will be interested in seeing the full CBA with all the deatails, as I'm sure everyone is.

Megan (Cincinnati) [via mobile]

Any idea or rumors on where Bill Laimbeer is looking at for his 4th pick in this year's draft?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:38 PM)

Not really, except that whatever Bill says publicly is probably NOT what he's going to do. :)

Gil (Washington DC)

Can you win a championship with an undisciplined style like UNC? Can you win 6 consecutive tournament games playing like that?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:44 PM)

I don't know if "undisciplined" is always a fair thing to say about UNC. Even though I've called them a "hot mess" at times so ... :) Maybe more very high-risk? The Tar Heels won a title 20 years ago, and they did not necessarily play that differently then. :) However, that was a much more experienced team, and this is mostly a bunch of kids. But ... Diamond DeShields is a very serious kid about playing well and winning. She is very bright and really understands the game. I don't anticipate the Tar Heels are going to threaten to go to the Final Four this season, but let's see how the next couple of years go. Especially if her teammates really fall in line behind DeShields.

Deep in the Heart (Texas)

Nina Davis @ Baylor is having a breakout freshman season. She has been selected Big 12 Freshman of the Week 6 times. Yet we haven't seen anything from the national press featuring her. Is it a tough climb up when you get branded #52 on HoopGurlz?

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:49 PM)

I am sure that Nina will be getting her due. It's not like we've been ignoring Baylor over the years. :) She is a *very* good player. As for where people are ranked on HoopGurlz ... I have to be honest, I don't pay that much attention. I know Wilson is No. 1, but beyond that ... I am focused on the kids who are already in college.

Mechelle Voepel
  (2:50 PM)

Thanks for all the questions. Chat with you next week!