Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat about the women's college hoops season.
Voepel is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.
Send your questions now and join Voepel Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (2:04 PM)
Good afternoon. Thanks for joining me at the regular Thursday time. We are not going to discuss LeBron here. Figure that might be getting covered elsewhere. :)
Is there any word on Mingo's recovery/return to the team?
Mechelle Voepel (2:08 PM)
Purdue sent out a release this morning that Drey Mingo, who is recovering from meningitis, is scheduled to be with the team for warmups for tonight's game against Maryland. She is not expected to be on the sidelines for the whole game, though. She is still recovering and has not met with the media. The illness had some impact on her hearing, which is still being evaluated. So to some degree the long-term effects do remain to be seen. But it's still overall great news compared to where Drey was a week ago. I know we're all thinking about her and pulling for her.
Candace Wiggins was interviewed during the Stanford-Texas game, and she mentioned that she was back on campus finishing up her degree. How many women players actually complete their degree requirements before turning pro? The men's game, with its one and done provision, makes a mockery of the whole scholar-athlete concept, but what kind of graduation rates do the women have? It seems kind of futile to study for three and a half years, then have to sputter out just before the finish line because you got drafted in April.
Mechelle Voepel (2:11 PM)
I don't have graduation numbers in front of me right now, but they are on another planet compared to the men. The majority of players in the WNBA have college degrees, and I think it will stay that way. Female players have to know how important the degree is to their future. Just not very likely too many women are going to be set for life playing basketball.
Barry (Phoenix, AZ)
Do you have a Folkl update? :)
Mechelle Voepel (2:15 PM)
You knew I would take this question. :) And, actually, it's funny you should ask, because I'm currently in St. Louis, Kristin Folkl's hometown. At least the last I heard, which was at the 2009 Final Four here, she and her husband live here in St. Louis and have two small children. I was just thinking about KF the other day from a volleyball perspective after ruminating on the vball bracket ... when she was just a freshman in high school here in Missouri and I was covering HS sports, she was so much better than all the other kids it was just amazing. Truly a woman among girls even when she was 14.
How would you grade Brooklyn Pope?
Mechelle Voepel (2:19 PM)
You know, she's doing OK with Baylor. I don't know about a letter grade ...she's at 9.6 ppg and 7.0 rpg, and the latter figure to me might be the most important. Baylor needs more rebounding the way Morgan Medlock often provided it last year. I think Pope is still figuring out her place on the court, but she's progressing. I'm sure Kim Mulkey would like her FT percentage to be better ... think it's in the 50s.
Any opinion on TCU in the B-East??
Mechelle Voepel (2:26 PM)
I think it's goofy as hell for a Texas school to be in the "East" for anything. :) But conference affiliation has little to do anymore with geographical sense ... and it's not like the Mountain West was necessarily the perfect fit for the Frogs, either. Obviously, this was only driven by football, and the rest of the sports go along for the ride. But it means an "odd" basketball road trip during league play when Eastern teams come to Fort Worth. Although, I guess it won't be that much different than UConn playing a non-league game at Oklahoma like it did last season. TCU is one of the more competitive women's hoops teams that isn't in a major conference, so just from the standpoint of being a program that has a high bar, it's a good addition for the Big East.
Barry (Phoenix, AZ)
Why couldn't Hollywood come up with a concept for both Madeline Kahn AND Leslie Nielsen?
Mechelle Voepel (2:29 PM)
It is sad, isn't it? But you know, these things are harder to do than they seem. I was hoping so much Leslie Nielsen and Anne Bancroft in a Mel Brooks comedy would be great ... but "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" was GODAWFUL! Luckily, I only paid the matinee price for it back in '95. By the way, you didn't ask, but my movie recommendation for the week is "Fair Game" ... Naomi Watts is fantastic.
Mechelle, a volleyball question if you don't mind. Hawaii makes the Final Four as a 12 seed, then brings back Danielson, has a similar year, and is seeded 15th. Why is there so much bias against a Mid-Major?
Mechelle Voepel (2:35 PM)
The volleyball committee doesn't know what it's doing. :) OK, that's harsh, but well ... they blew it this season. I admit, I went off on them on my blog. Totally unbalanced bracket. I don't think Hawaii losing a meaningless WAC tournament final match should have "penalized" the Wahine the way it apparently did. But what's the explanation for the entire Seattle region being as ludicrously loaded as it is? The committee can't explain this bracket in a satisfactory way. Whoever gets out of Seattle alive will feel like they've already won the NCAA title ... but they've still got two matches to go.
kevin (macon ga)
TCu joining the Big East gives them 17 teams. Is that sustainable?
Mechelle Voepel (2:35 PM)
I think it's nuts.
Of the unbeaten, unranked teams, is Kansas the best of the bunch?
Mechelle Voepel (2:42 PM)
How about this ... other than UMKC, Kansas is the closest Division I program to my house (34 miles), but I haven't seen the Jayhawks in person yet this season! But I have monitored them ... they scored a school-record 126 points against Maine last night! Kevin asked me earlier this year about coach Cindy Blodgett getting her contract extended at Maine ... it certainly wasn't for results like a 126-63 loss to a team that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament in a decade. Yikes. Is Kansas that good? Well, I know they have talent. Maybe the best possible thing from last night's game is center Krysten Boogaard's career-high 33 points. Never seen anything like that out of her before, but I've long believed she's capable of big games. She's a senior, so it's time. And it's time for KU to finally have some good luck, because the Jayhawks haven't had a lot of that for a long time.
Nebraska seems to be plugging along nicely, not at all like the 'rebuilding' team it should be. Have you seen them in action yet, and are their wins impressive?
Mechelle Voepel (2:45 PM)
Now, the Huskers I have seen in person. Jordan Hooper is really good - and wow, what an athlete. The Huskers are relying on some young and/or inexperienced players, so they are going to take some lumps at some point. But they are building confidence, they play hard and they have some talent.
Is there ever any watch live womans basketball on this espn?? All I ever see is mens college.. there are soooo very few college womans bb games on tv-- was hoping to be able to catch them on this epsn live web site???
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
Not sure if I'm supposed to say this on an ESPN.com chat but ... it's important to have the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports along with ESPN networks for women's games. That helps you get a pretty good mix of games. As far as I know, if I'm reading the schedule right, the next ESPN2-televised women's hoops games are Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern, Purdue-Notre Dame, and then Monday at 5 Eastern, Texas A
Notre Dame has taken quite a beating in the past 2-3 weeks. Their preseason schedule has been brutal so far. Will playing such tough competition early reap benefits down the stretch or will it damage the collective psyche?
Mechelle Voepel (2:52 PM)
I think it will help. Notre Dame has a really strong tradition of doing well in the postseason, and I think that has to do with Muffet McGraw being able to really improve her teams as the season goes along. They will get better from these games, I think.
Ellen (Springfield, MA)
What is your prediction for when UConn loses? Do you think the streak has been a positive for womens basketball?
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
Well, I was wrong with my first prediction, which was Baylor. So ... like most everyone else, I'll go to the fall-back position and say Stanford on Dec. 30. Of course, we'll see if Ohio State surprises all of us, right? Or maybe there are some believers in the Buckeyes beating the Huskies? As for whether it's been positive ... it's certainly been positive for UConn, and from a general sense, anytime a women's program gets a lot of attention for something, it should positively impact the sport. I certainly don't think it's been a negative ... other than the UConn beat writers might be quite weary of trying to find new ways to talk about how great the Huskies have been. :)
Stacey (North Carolina)
What are your thoughts on the women's ACC-Big 10 match up games? I don't think Duke will have much trouble w/ Wisconsin but what about UNC vs Iowa; UVA vs OSU; and MD vs Purdue?
Mechelle Voepel (2:58 PM)
I actually like all these matches, but Iowa-UNC has my eye the most going in, actually. Let's see how the Hawkeyes deal with that Carolina chaos.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Which is the most historic...88 vs OSU 89 (if it happens) against FSU or whenever the streak ends (Likely vs Stanford)
Mechelle Voepel (3:03 PM)
Well, I gotta say ... if we are going to make this comparison with UCLA's men, then what is the game that everybody who is old enough (I am; I was almost 9 and it's imbedded in my brain) remembers from that UCLA 88-straight streak? The game in January 1974 where it ended against Notre Dame. That's the highlight we always still see. So I think whenever the UConn streak ends, that's the one that will get the most attention, because then that will be the new benchmark. Which may not ever be threatened again.
kevin (macon ga)
ESPN's schedule for televised WCBB games: http://www.ncaa.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/101910aaa.html
Mechelle Voepel (3:04 PM)
William Thomas (Buchanan)
I know this is WNBA but i wanna ask if the UCONN women will ever lose?
Mechelle Voepel (3:08 PM)
Yes, eventually. Sometime. We think. But I really posted this question to say it's kind of problematic what to "call" my chat. It's WNBA, it's women's college hoops, throw in some volleyball, occasional tennis, movies. I know virtually nothing about "Dancing With the Stars," though.
Mechelle Voepel (3:08 PM)
Except hearing about who wasn't any good. Hahaha.
If Boston College can beat Penn State tonight and Rutgers next Sunday (and thus go 9-0), will they have earn some recognition or will no one take them seriously until they hit the conference part of their schedule?
Mechelle Voepel (3:11 PM)
Graham Hays did a piece on BC a little earlier, at the start of the season. I definitely think if the Eagles get to 9-0, they are going to catch some eyes. By the way, Graham is in the NC Triangle this weekend for the women's soccer College Cup (semis Friday at 4 and 6:30, final Sunday at noon) and so he'll be able to catch some hoops, too, including Texas AM-Duke on Monday. I am going to the men's soccer College Cup next week in Santa Barbara, and admit I'm hoping to catch some warm weather.
Rosa (Washington, DC)
Any update on the Mystics alienation of their STH's?
Mechelle Voepel (3:13 PM)
I sure haven't heard any from any happy Mystics fans lately. So if they are out there, they can chime in on the chat and I'll let everyone know. :)
Thanks for your piece on Teresa Edwards. I am still thankful I got to see her play and coach with the Lynx and hope she does well with the Shock.
Mechelle Voepel (3:15 PM)
Thank you. Talked to Teresa yesterday, and she seems very energetic and ready to try to help the franchise get some traction. Clearly, there's a lot of work to do to make that roster really on par with other teams in the WNBA.
kevin McCaffrey (Brookfield,ct)
Does the UCONN Womens win streak have any meaning outside of Connecticut? Will you be Ohio State-Uconn Game in NYC?
Mechelle Voepel (3:20 PM)
I definitely think it has impact ... certainly in the women's basketball world everywhere, and to whatever extent the sport will get national recognition, it will get it from something like this. I am not scheduled at this time to be at Ohio State-UConn ... I'm doing the volleyball Final Four in Kansas City and that championship match is the night before, Dec. 18. So right now the plan is I will follow that UConn-OSU game Dec. 19 on TV. Who knows if that might change ... but I'd have to hustle on out there to New York early Sunday if it did. I am scheduled to be at UConn-Stanford on Dec. 30, though.
Does having Kayla Pedersen on the perimeter in college hurt her pro prospects?
Mechelle Voepel (3:21 PM)
No, I think her all-around game is a big part of why scouts like her so much. As I've mentioned before, everyone I've talked to is really high on her.
So Sacred Heart knocks off an SEC team in hoops and the NCAA sends their volleyball team to Nebraska as punishment? Not Fair!
Mechelle Voepel (3:22 PM)
You don't think Sacred Heart volleyball has much of a chance in the House of Husker? Well, you are probably right. Few ever do. :)
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Hey Mechelle will they change that sign ;) or did hays steal it (and then noshowed his chat :-P)
Mechelle Voepel (3:23 PM)
Graham was very sick last week so that's what happened on his chat. He's gutting it out to get to his beloved College Cup this week, though. :)
I saw an interview once with the Notre Dame coach who broke UCLA's winning streak. He said that as the game was winding down, they were down by (I think) 12 points and they slowly kept chipping away at the lead. He said that he knew John Wooden never wanted to take a timeout, so he knew that if they could keep chipping away, Wooden woudl not disrupt their momentum, and so Notre Dame ultimately won by one point. Keeping that historical perspective in mind, what would you say is Geno Auriemma's greatest coaching weakness?
Mechelle Voepel (3:27 PM)
What a great question ... honestly, I don't know what it is. It's hard to say he's made many mistakes ... how many times has UConn had a team that SHOULD win and hasn't? I don't think the UConn loss at the 2008 Final Four to Stanford was really much of an upset. I suppose every coach has something that they know is more of a weakness for them, but who really has been able find a "weakness" with UConn's coaching and exploit it? It just hasn't happened much. I think Geno would give Chris Dailey some props for that, too.
Mechelle Voepel (3:28 PM)
I'm telling you, Glenn and Kevin should have their own chat, with a few others making regular guest appearances. You guys keep me hopping. :) But I will throw this final question out to all of you.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who are the 5 best head coaches of all time in NCAA Women's College Basketball?
Mechelle Voepel (3:33 PM)
Chris has been asking me this question *forever.* Like every chat. And I kept avoiding it. Chris probably thought, "Dang you, Voepel, I will keep doing this until you answer it!' But the thing is, some of our greatest coaches are still in the midst of their careers. Everybody knows two people who are automatically on this list, right? So who might be the other three? You guys give me your answers next week ... although I might be chatting at a different time next week because of men's soccer. Still figuring that out. But we will chat. See. Chris, persistence pays off.