Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat about the 2011 WNBA 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 (2:03 PM)
Good afternoon everybody. I first off want to put the rumor to rest: I will NOT be suiting up tonight to help out the injury-depleted Washington Mystics. But they will have Kerri Gardin, who will be a significantly greater help. :) Rough waters the Mystics are going through now. OK, let's get started.
Hi Mechelle, I wanted to ask you if you can share with us here in Colo just what happened with Janel McCarville? I sense that something else is going on in her life , other than basketball.Thank you and enjoy your work.
Mechelle Voepel (2:08 PM)
Thanks, George. I will have a long overdue post up concerning Janel McCarville, Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford on my blog- mechellevoepelblog.com _ later today. But essentially here is the deal: Janel is not "hurt" but she's worn out mentally and physically. She felt she needed time off, and the Liberty felt they couldn't let her "rest" while taking up a roster spot, plus coach/GM John Whisenant really wanted everyone in camp as soon as possible before the season. So it was Janel's decision to sit out. She is still under contract to the Liberty. Her overseas deal does not prevent her from playing in the WNBA. She just wanted a break, and this is also giving her a chance to spend some time with her dad back home in Wisconsin. I don't think there are any "bad guys" here; her agent, Mike Cound, told me he understood the Liberty's point of view and said they did *not* treat Janel poorly. They had a decision to make, and so did she. Her agent thinks there is a good chance we'll see Janel in the WNBA next summer, but perhaps not with the Liberty. They may decide to make a deal and part ways with her. But that's all speculation for later.
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Since San Antonio had three draftees make their roster in Danielle Robinson, Danielle Adams and Porsha Phillips, does that mean that the Silver Stars had the best draft in 2011 of any team in the WNBA?
Mechelle Voepel (2:09 PM)
That is an interesting way to look at it. :) It did seem like the Silver Stars were in need of new blood, so we'll see how well these players are able to perform over the course of the season. Coach/GM Dan Hughes said recently he was rather pleasantly surprised at how well Phillips in particular seems to be adapting to pro play.
kevin (macon ga)
Ticha Penicheiro seems to have lost a step. Would the Sparks be a better team moving Quinn to the point and starting Toliver at off guard?
Mechelle Voepel (2:13 PM)
It might be too early to make a judgment on this, but at the same time, the WNBA season is compacted enough that it forces teams to make decisions pretty quickly. I honestly couldn't say that I feel what I've seen of Ticha would indicate anything that definitive to me, but at the same time, I can't say it's not the case, either. It's really hard to run an offense as well as Ticha does without having the experience she has, but Quinn is also not a newcomer. Maybe that is the back court - Quinn/Toliver - that LA goes with, but dang ... they better understand that Candace Parker needs the ball A LOT. Everything on that team has to revolve around CP3.
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
If 3 of Washington's 11 players are unable to play due to injury, do league rules allow the Mystics to sign a 12th player due to medical hardship before tonight's nationally televised game versus the Dream?
Mechelle Voepel (2:17 PM)
As mentioned earlier, yes, Kerri Gardin has been signed to play with the Mystics, but she has to go as soon as either Alana Beard or Ta'Shia Phillips is back and able to play for the Mystics. They are, of course, down because of Monique Currie being on the roster but out this season with a knee injury. Once you are below nine on the roster who can actually play, you can make the request to the league to go the hardship route.
Charde Houston could be a useful contributor on a number of teams. Is it time for her and Minnesota to split?
Mechelle Voepel (2:20 PM)
So far she has been pretty limited in playing time, although it's still early. But it's definitely different than her last two seasons in particular. I guess this will depend on how she adjusts to this role, if it stays the same. If she's really unhappy, maybe the Lynx look for a deal to make with her? This is a team where some talented people are not necessarily going to get as much time as they would have in the past for the Lynx.
Keith H (Seattle)
Good morning, Mechelle. I realize we paid a high price to get Katie Smith, but after seeing her on the floor with Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Swin Cash on Saturday, my reaction was "Wow!" Do you go along with Brian Agler's apparent motivation to go for it with the 30+'s and worry about getting younger later? You only have so many chances at championships.
Mechelle Voepel (2:23 PM)
Yes, I think he's doing the right thing. We already know Lauren is going to take significant time away next season because she'll be training with the Aussie team for the London Olympics. I just think with the chance to have this group all together this season, with everybody relatively healthy (I know Katie has the achilles' tendinitis thing, but she seems to be managing it), it is a very good chance for the Storm to repeat. So, yeah, worry about getting "younger" in another season.
kevin (macon ga)
Will David Stern ever be inducted to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame?
Mechelle Voepel (2:26 PM)
I think he should be, most definitely, but whether it's really a big deal to him, I don't know. Stern is pretty busy with the NBA finals and the upcoming draft in June, so I don't even know if he'd have time to go to Knoxville, Tenn., for a June induction at the WBHOF. But there's no question that he has done something momentous for women's hoops and women's athletics.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Even though you Cover Women's College Basketball & The WNBA, What is your Favorite WNBA Team?
Mechelle Voepel (2:29 PM)
In all honesty, I don't have a favorite in college or pro women's basketball. I don't mean to sound flip at all, but I always say I get paid the exact same amount to write stories no matter who is playing or winning. :) My favorite team is in a sport I don't cover - Major League Baseball - so I can allow myself the lack of objectivity in rooting passionately for my love since childhood, the St. Louis Cardinals.
kevin (macon ga)
Sylvia Fowles got only five shots in the Sky opener. How much of that is due to Courtney Vanderloot's inexperience working with tall post players?
Mechelle Voepel (2:33 PM)
Well, you are right, the Gonzaga posts were not Sylvia-sized, for sure. :) But I don't really think it's because of that. It's just hard for a point guard to make the reads and adjustments necessary in the WNBA ... everything is happening a lot faster. Also, I'm still not sure that Fowles is the type to really DEMAND the ball on the court ... she's become a better leader, but she is not somebody who really gets in anybody's face, even in a good way. That will be up to Pokey Chatman to make sure the distribution is more to the Sky's benefit.
Why has Marissa Coleman's pro transition been so uneasy, especially after the hot start? She's a very useful bench player, but will she ever own the starting spot?
Mechelle Voepel (2:36 PM)
Alana Beard was actually talking about that before the season - with a young player who'd had great success in college, starts out well in the pros, deals with an injury, and then loses some confidence - how that's harder to come back from than it may seem. Former Mystics coach Julie Plank was hard on Coleman in terms of her defense, from what I could tell, but she liked her and thought she had lots of potential. When you consider the changes the Mystics have gone through and how maybe Marissa is still trying to really find her confidence as a pro player, maybe it's still a matter of time before she really is comfortable and becomes a regular starter. Beard said she's really tried to mentor Coleman, but of course, Beard has had her own troubles to deal with in regard to her ankle woes.
kevin (macon ga)
Would Bill Laimbeer be a good choice to coach the Pistons?
Mechelle Voepel (2:39 PM)
I am going to guess there's nothing that Bill Laimbeer would want more than to be head coach of the team he helped win NBA titles for as a player. Laimbeer is very smart in terms of personnel moves and strategy, which was quite clear in his time in the WNBA. Whether he's the right fit for this Pistons bunch ... I just don't know. I would imagine he thinks he is. :)
Briann January had a terrible debut. Do you see her improving and holding on to the starting PG job this year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:44 PM)
Not exactly a shooting clinic by the Fever in their opener, "led" by January's 0-for-11. But, hey, they still won, and it's only one game. She's got a lot of talent. I'd say let's give her a few more games to settle in and see how she's doing then.
Do you think the Cardinals will re-sign Pujols? Should they?
Mechelle Voepel (2:49 PM)
The realist in me says I don't necessarily want the franchise to be tied up with a 10-year deal, because we all know that reality is baseball players do decline as they get deeper into their 30s. Even if they are as phenomenal as Pujols. You always get into that question with a new contract of, "Are you paying them for what they already did, or what they are going to do?" But ... I don't know of any Cardinals fans, myself included, who are emotionally prepared for him NOT being a Cardinal for the duration of his career. So it's easy to say since it's not my money: Please do what it takes, Cards management! I very much want him to be a Cardinal for life, like Stan Musial. :)
Do you think Pondexter will ever play for USA Basketball again?
Mechelle Voepel (2:54 PM)
She wasn't at the May training camp in Vegas, but Cappie insisted last year - when she didn't play in the world championships - that she still had a very good relationship with USA Basketball. She's clearly one of the best players in the world, and had a good history with USA Basketball as a former Olympian. I just don't know if her not playing last fall did any real damage to her relationship, in reality, or if the damage is lasting. I guess we'll see as 2012 gets closer.
Tulsa looks worse than last year and they've just lost Holt for 6-8 weeks. At this point, do you see Cambage getting so frustrated that she does not come back for 2012?
Mechelle Voepel (2:57 PM)
Oh, goodness, she can't get frustrated THAT quickly, can she? :) Then again, obviously she may have a compelling reason with the Olympics to stay home anyway in 2012. I think everybody was concerned about guard depth with Tulsa this season. Does the Shock roster really make the most sense? Again, we'll repeat that it is early, but this is the kind of thing - a guard injury - that stood out as possible worry for a team that's trying to establish itself as actually competitive.
Who do you think is the best duo ever from Connecticut? Rizzotti and Lobo, cash and bird, taurasi and bird, Shea and svetlana, or Moore and Charles?
Mechelle Voepel (3:02 PM)
I don't know how you'd really decide "best duo," especially since the trio of Bird/Cash/Taurasi started two seasons together, with Ralph and Abrosimova mixed in there, too. Not sure how you separate them into different duos. And are we also looking at how their WNBA careers have gone, or strictly what they did at UConn? If it's the latter, I'd say since Taurasi won three titles, the best "duo" is her and anybody she played with. :) Really, this is a question for the UConn faithful to wrestle with endlessly.
Cambage is 19. The young get frustrated quickly. I heard that Lennox for waived from Tulsa due to knee issues. Why is a guard like Sharnee Zoll still unsigned? She has European experience and looked like she could hold her own against opponents.
Mechelle Voepel (3:05 PM)
Seattle coach Brian Agler mentioned that Zoll has definitely improved from her time spent overseas and that she should have a chance at making a WNBA roster. It just didn't work out in Seattle. Why isn't Zoll getting a shot someplace like Tulsa? I just have to wonder about that.
Mechelle Voepel (3:07 PM)
Appreciate the questions ... thanks as always to "chat warrior" Kevin and tollick, who helped extend the chat this week with some good queries. Tune in tonight on ESPN2 to watch the Mystics (and their injuries) vs. the Dream (and their injuries). Chat with you again next week.