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 (2:01 PM)
Good afternoon to anyone who is not watching men's hoops ... or is doing that AND is on this chat. That's some multi-tasking. I haven't filled out my women's bracket yet - which I am forced to do :) - but I'll get to it. So let's get started.
Donnell (Baton Rouge)
Mechelle, why did Van Chancellor deny his basketball team of EXTRA PRATICES by not playin in the WNIT, and do you think this will raise an issue with the AD and booster at LSU.
Mechelle Voepel (2:05 PM)
There are a fair amount of LSU questions ... a lot of fans seem happy to be moving on from Van Chancellor, or at least excited about what may be next. I think it is a mistake to not give a team with so many players coming back a chance to compete in the WNIT, but it seems like there is some behind-the-scenes wrangling at LSU. I wonder if the players feel they are not the top priority right now? Couldn't blame them.
Tracy (New Orleans)
Mechelle, who do you think LSU will try to get to be their next coach, remember they have TONS OF TALENT coming back and a top high school All-American coming in. Thanks.
Mechelle Voepel (2:11 PM)
Should be a good job, and with the SEC down this year, it's perhaps a good time to step into the conference. Perhaps LSU will look at a couple of coaches in the ACC, such as Miami's Katie Meier or FSU's Sue Semrau. Let's see how AD Joe Alleva, formerly of Duke, handles this search. I never really understood hiring Van Chancellor in terms of the long-range objectives of the LSU program. Whatever Pokey Chatman's transgressions, LSU did not handle her departure well - remember their initial press release in March 2007 that she was "pursuing other opportunities" as if no one would question it? _ and then I think they settled for something they figured was easy in Chancellor. Now they need to think about someone who can get back to competing at the top of the SEC and can be successful recruiting for the long haul.
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Which Big Ten team(s) do you predict will end up with the most wins in the upcoming NCAA Tournament?
Mechelle Voepel (2:13 PM)
I'm guessing Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State all make the Sweet 16, but fall in the regional semifinals. Giving the Lions the benefit of the doubt to be able to pull an upset on their home floor if they meet DePaul in second round.
kevin (macon ga)
What's a better job, Virginia or LSU?
Mechelle Voepel (2:18 PM)
Of course, LSU has had more recent success, and it's a very good job. But Virginia is an enormous opportunity for someone. The Cavs had elevated to being the boss of the ACC in the 1990s until overtaken by Duke's ascent. Debbie Ryan is a legend in the game, but sometimes a new approach in a situation is a good thing. Virginia is an outstanding academic institution, has beautiful facilities and is in a very good recruiting hotbed for talent. Someone needs to look at that job like it's a program that doesn't have to be very far from a Final Four appearance again.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the National Champions in Women's College Basketball according to your Brackets?
Mechelle Voepel (2:20 PM)
As mentioned, I haven't finalized my bracket yet, but I have been saying Baylor since the beginning of the season. So why change now? Especially on St. Patrick's Day, we'll stick with the green team.
Debbie and Van both stepped down. Is there a coach that is in danger if they get knocked out in the first round?
Mechelle Voepel (2:23 PM)
No, I don't think so. Although if No. 9 Texas doesn't "upset" No. 8 Marquette in the first round - I never think 9 beating 8 is really an upset - then there will be chatter from some folks in Austin about how Gail Goestenkors hasn't done what they wanted. Which was win the NCAA championship in her first practice on the Austin campus in the fall of 2007. :)
kevin (macon ga)
Which #1 seed has the toughest road to the Final Four?
Mechelle Voepel (2:28 PM)
My gut reaction when I saw the bracket was Stanford. Because they potentially play some teams that could be difficult to deal with. If it's Texas Tech in the second round, that is a team that beat another No. 1, Baylor, during the season. Then if Stanford is in the Sweet 16 vs. Kentucky or UNC, that could be an "ugly" game that the Cardinal won't enjoy playing. And if they make it to the regional final against Xavier, there's obviously the grudge factor from last year and the Musketeers' post presence, or possibly UCLA, which might find the fourth time is the charm against Stanford.
There are a bunch of college jobs opening up, but very few WNBA coaches or assistants seem to be on the short lists. Why is that?
Mechelle Voepel (2:31 PM)
I really don't know everyone who's on the short lists of various colleges. But the WNBA is a different gig, and some coaches have found they prefer working with pro athletes and not having to recruit. But there will still be people, of course, who cross over if they get the right offer and feel it fits them. In general, I think a lot of ADs do not have very good working lists for women's basketball coaches the way they do for their so called "spotlight" hires in football and men's hoops.
It's not madness until the first upset. I think Prochaska and Bowling Green get the first one. Your thoughts?
Mechelle Voepel (2:33 PM)
Certainly, there are some advantages for No. 12 Bowling Green ... the program has played well in past tournaments and they'll be in Ohio for the subregional. I still think Georgia Tech will prevail in this matchup, though.
kevin (macon ga)
Who has the best chance to join 2004 UConn in winning both the men's and women's tournaments the same year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:36 PM)
Heck, maybe behind Maya Moore and Kemba Walker, UConn will do it again this season. :)
The Washington Mystics have been frustratingly quiet during the WNBA off-season. No word on re-signing Harding or Smith and waiving Sanford without making any moves to secure another post player (not to mention Currie's injury). I know, I know, Mystics fans should just be used to this, but I'm trying to be a little optimistic. Any thoughts on what's going on in the Mystics front office? (Hold your laughter, please)
Mechelle Voepel (2:39 PM)
Sorry, had to laugh. I should *not* get into the rumor mill with WNBA moves, I know ... but here goes ... have heard rumblings about Harding going elsewhere. Have not spoken with her; it is rumor. There seems to be a lot up in the air to me about the Mystics, but why would that surprise us, right?
VOLUNTEERS (BIG ORANGE COUNTY)
Err, you forgot to mention in the LSU- VA comparison, you are always going to be second to the University of Tennessee! That is why Va is the better opportunity!
Mechelle Voepel (2:42 PM)
I'll be honest. I thought that, too. Even though LSU had some success against Tenn in recent history, the Orange Crush is still there at the top of the league, and you wonder at what point it can be overcome. Pat Summitt might live forever, you know. :) I wouldn't put it past her.
kevin (macon ga)
Will the Cappie Pondexter Twitter situation accelerate the WNBA's presidential search?
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
The cynical side of me says, "Why start trying to do it in a timely fashion now?" The WNBA points to the time between Val Ackerman and Donna Orender and says, "Hey, there's precedent for a period with no president." Like, seriously, that's what they've said to me, as if that's a reasonable explanation for not having a leader in place now. Was there really no working plan for a transition from Donna? Did she walk into the NBA offices and shock them with this announcement in December? Are there really that many viable candidates that it should be a three-month or longer process? Or are they just saving money because they think nothing happens in the off-season that is drastically important, so why do we need a leader? Having a president in place isn't going to prevent a player saying/doing something that she might regret, as has been the case with Cappie. But it would mean there was an official spokesperson, a "the buck stops here" person in place to deal with it when it happened.
Your thoughts on holding the WNBA draft at ESPN? Would it really be such a big deal to rent a hall somewhere and have an actual live audience cheering when the announcements are made?
Mechelle Voepel (2:51 PM)
I really don't know the genesis of all this, really, but I think it just made financial sense for ESPN and the WNBA to have it on site at ESPN headquarters. I would imagine any such decision is driven by that.
kevin (macon ga)
I love the idea of a WNBA team playing in England, but why are the ticket prices so high? Will they really sell at 23GBP; to 77GBP; (in USD that's about 37$ to 125$).
Mechelle Voepel (2:55 PM)
How embarrassing is it that I can not, off the top of my head, make the financial translation between the British and American currencies? You can tell I didn't major in economics. And I still struggle with metric conversion without looking it up. Well, I am glad you did it for me, Kevin. Seems like a ton of money to pay for an exhibition game in any sport to me.
Diana Taurasi has had about four motnhs of rest (although admittedly not by choice). She's had ample time to let her body recuperate from the constant pounding of year-round play. She's had weeks and weeks of solitude to work on her conditioning and practice alone in the gym. And after everything that happened in Turkey, now she's probably got a whomping big chip on her shoulder, too. Does all that mean the Phoenix Mercury should be considered the frontrunner for the championship this year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
She sure seems primed to have an awesome season. I am curious to see how Lauren Jackson's health is when the season starts ... but if it's good, I still lean toward the Storm again. But there could be some epic Storm-Mercury battles, and Seattle might not get the best of all of them the way it did last season.
Should Cappie Pondexter's remarks about the Japanese people and the earthquake/tsunami deserve punishment, or is an apology sufficient?
Mechelle Voepel (3:08 PM)
Yes, I am closing with this question. Everyone will have their own opinion on this, of course. Some will say the apology is enough, if they believe it's heartfelt. Others will think maybe a game or two suspension would help get the point across, not just to Cappie Pondexter but everyone in the WNBA, about how important it is to think about the consequences before you tweet or write on Facebook or speak. It's just the world we live in now. Media outlets who wouldn't cover a WNBA game if you told them they might find a winning lottery ticket under their seat at press row were all over Pondexter's remarks - even if they didn't know who she was. It was "bad news" and got a lot of hits, some from angry people who said horrible things about Pondexter and showed their own racism and misogyny. I hope Cappie learned something valuable from this. It is up to the Liberty/WNBA in talking with her, I think, to make the judgment of what her mindset really is about the incident. And then decide from there if any further punishment, if you will, is warranted. She has an opportunity to grow from this. I was critical of the way the Liberty, especially, handled it because they were not proactive, nor did they seem to work with her/her agent and say, "Let's stand up, make sure the apology is sincere and well-worded, and let's try to minimize the damage." She is their signature player, but it seemed to me they were unaware of how much negative publicity could come out of this. I really hope it's a lesson for all the teams and the WNBA, along with Cappie.
Mechelle Voepel (3:09 PM)
Thanks for the questions, and hope everybody enjoys the start of March Madness.