Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat some hoops.
Voepel has covered women's college and pro basketball for ESPN.com since 1996. Read her blog at www.mechellevoepelblog.com.
Send your questions now and join Voepel Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (3:04 PM)
The Lynx-Shock game is just finishing up ... big day for Maya Moore. Let's get started.
Genny (Western MA)
Your 5 all-stars so far in this season without an all-star game? I like Parker, Charles, Fowles, Hammon, and Augustus (you gotta choose one of the great Lynx players). It is hard to vote for Bonner when Phoenix is in the cellar or for Prince when she has been out for half the season. Both are/were having all-star seasons, though.
Mechelle Voepel (3:07 PM)
I might get criticized for leaving off a Lynx player, and I totally understand that. But how about this list: Parker, Charles, Fowles, Hammon and McCoughtry.
Tasha (San Antonio, Texas)
Do you think the Silver Stars can remain on their hot streak? Do you think the Olympic break will help or hurt them?
Mechelle Voepel (3:08 PM)
I'll be chatting with SASS coach Dan Hughes a little later today, so we'll see what he thinks about the Olympic break. At this point, I'm sure he'd like to just keep playing. That said, I think the chemistry that is helping make this team so good will not disappear during the Olympics. I think they will be a good second-half-of-the-season team, too.
Mechelle, there has been talk on messageboards from some Sparks fans that they should trade Toliver while she has value this season. Do you agree with that assertion?
Mechelle Voepel (3:12 PM)
It seems to me that Carol Ross has a pretty good handle on how best to use Toliver for what she is: a shooting guard who kind of plays point guard. I see the value in letting her continue to grow as a player and feel comfortable with a Sparks team that seems built to be good long term _ as long as there are no behind-the-scenes issues that we don't know about. If the chemistry between Toliver and her teammates really is good, I think there good reason to keep her.
Ohmri (New Orleans)
I'm a mercury fan and I'm so proud of them; but What needs to happen for Phoenix to have a respectable second half of the season if they are still without Diana?
Mechelle Voepel (3:16 PM)
This may sound a little crazy, but I actually think they have had a respectable season considering the many injuries. It seems to me the Mercury has played hard and isn't going in the tank. They just don't have all the pieces needed, especially in the West this season. We'll have to see what kind of shape DT is in for the Olympics and afterward. I do have to commend the Merc for the fact that they've played very hard and I think that will continue regardless of DT's status.
kevin (macon ga)
Re: the Saudi Olympic team's lack of women. The latest news is disgusting. The Saudis say their women who qualify will be allowed to compete, but decline to hold qualifiers in Saudi Arabia or offer institutional support for female athletes to compete in regional qualifiers. Will the IOC show some backbone and ban the Saudis from the games?
Mechelle Voepel (3:20 PM)
No, the IOC isn't going to have a backbone here. The Saudi treatment of women as essentially children who must be monitored and managed at all times is quite frankly like something out of a horror movie to most of us. My understanding of the latest news is that two women - who both train outside the country - will go as representatives of Saudi Arabia, but absolutely nothing has changed in regard to opening up sports participation to girls and women in that country. This tiny amount of so-called "progress" in regard to the two competitors shouldn't be enough for the IOC.
Did you attend the ESPYs? The Pat Summitt tribute was incredible.
Mechelle Voepel (3:22 PM)
No, I did not. Watched it on TV, and yes, that was a terrific tribute to Coach Summitt. Highlight of the show.
Will the Mystics fire Trudi Lacy during the Olympic break? Is the Mystics FO completely deaf and blind to what is going on with the team and the fan malaise, which could haunt the franchise for years - even with a top draft pick in 2013.
Mechelle Voepel (3:25 PM)
To get rid of Trudi Lacey would mean acknowledging the mistakes of 2010. And I wonder if the Mystics' brain trust is willing to do that.
stever (ann arbor)
What's your take on the Tulsa franchise, after your recent visit..is their ownership patient enough, and deep-pocketed enough to withstand another season or two out of the playoffs?
Mechelle Voepel (3:27 PM)
I think so ... when I was there, the Shock brass made a point of saying that they are in this for the long haul, and they believe the franchise is not that far away from being a contender with a few more pieces of the puzzle. I do think their hearts are in the right place, but that doesn't mean they aren't serious business people. They realize some of the mistakes they've made.
What are your thoughts on Dottie Pepper's comment about American LPGA players being out worked by the Koreans? Do you agree?
Mechelle Voepel (3:35 PM)
A golf question - thanks. I spent last weekend at the U.S. Women's Open in Wisconsin, always one of my favorite events to cover. I must have passed the putting green 25 times or so during the week, and I have to say I saw the very same thing Dottie Pepper did. There's something else to consider: In order to get this far for many of the foreign players, they have to work harder in several respects: They must become at least someone familiar with a totally different language, country and lifestyle. They tend to be pretty exceptional people even before you start talking about their golf. That doesn't mean the Americans aren't exceptional, but .... I'm just saying that when you've sacrificed and worked as hard as some of the foreign players to make it to the American-based LPGA, you've had to absolutely work your tail off. And that becomes totally your mindset. I also notice that the players from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, for instance, do double the amount of time with the media, because they speak with American reporters in English and then reporters from their native countries. They tend to be very diligent about that, too, just like their golf. I admire them immensely for their hard work, their intelligence and their demeanor. If this sounds like I'm knocking the American golfers, I'm not ... but they might need to recognize more what they're going against when it comes to work ethic.
This is roughly the midpoint of the season. Which team has most underperformed your preseason expectations?
Mechelle Voepel (3:37 PM)
Chicago, but admittedly Prince's injury is a big factor with that.
When I watch the Mystics, I see a team that plays great defense, plays hard (both a reflection of coaching), but lacks enough offensive talent to make them a competitve team. How come nobody else seems to see this? It's like a witch hunt in DC.
Mechelle Voepel (3:38 PM)
I have not heard that sentiment from any Mystics fans, but that doesn't mean some don't think that way. I want to be fair to different points of view.
Sun fan (Connecticut)
What's up with Renee Montgomery this season? She's hitting 1 of everyone 3 shots she takes and has more turnovers than assists. Also, do you see her turning her performance around after the break?
Mechelle Voepel (3:40 PM)
Renee Montgomery is one of the most intense players you'll find, and I do wonder if she might be putting a little extra pressure on herself this year. That said, the Sun is playing very well, and maybe the break will be pretty good for her personally to have an even stronger second half.
Is there anything Candace Parker can do, short of declaring UCONN the college of choice for her 3 year old, to slow down the constant "princess of the league" claims every time she wins a POW or POM award?
Mechelle Voepel (3:44 PM)
OK, that's funny. I honestly don't even notice that chatter much ... I think I see Candace Parker objectively. I criticized her at times early in her career, and I know there will always be some things about her that people don't care for. But ... I think she's matured in some ways that more people in the media than just me have noticed. I don't see how you can argue about how talented she is. And if you saw her last night talking about Pat Summitt at the ESPYs, that emotion and gratitude is very, very sincere. All that said ... the WNBA does need those players that get on some people's nerves, right? :)
Tracy (Los Angeles)
Mechelle, what is your take on the West right now and do you think that LA or SA has the team to beat Minnesota in a three game sereis this year. I must say that those three teams are loaded and good.
Mechelle Voepel (3:46 PM)
Loaded is a good word for it. I think a few weeks ago, I would have said no, SASS or LA would not beat the Lynx. But I am not so sure now ... both those teams have impressed me. If everyone stays healthy, the Western Conference playoffs could be really, really good.
2012 vs Dream Team? I say the '96 team isn't as good as the '12 team. They couldn't cover Fowles or Parker inside!
Mechelle Voepel (3:52 PM)
I guess there has been some controversy over Kobe Bryant talking about 2012 USA men beating the '92 Dream Team? I think he's right to suggest that possibility. Sports doesn't stand still ... athletes today have some advantages in training, diet, video study, etc., that they didn't have in '92 or '96. So in regard to Team USA for the women today vs. 1996 ... I think athletically, '12 perhaps does have an edge. However, the '96 team had cohesion from all that time touring together ... and Lisa Leslie is still, overall, the best player in the history of Team USA. Be fun to watch that imaginary game.
What do you think about Hope Solo's recent public warning for using a banned substance? I believe she's the first US women's soccer player to be sanctioned in at least 15yrs. Shouldn't an experienced international athlete like Solo be more on top of things? Do you think being distracted from her primary job (soccer) by doing photo shoots & tv shows over the last year played a role?
Mechelle Voepel (3:54 PM)
All things considered, yes, she should be more on top of it. But as far as her other endeavors, I don't think you can blame her for trying to strike while the iron is hot in terms of her visibility and endorsement potential. Plus, there are chunks of time when there is not a lot of competitive women's soccer to be played at her level, unfortunately.
Dear Shades, Washington are 11th in the league offensively, and 11th in the league defensively. They suck equally at both ends.
Mechelle Voepel (3:55 PM)
Succinctly put. :) Unlike me.
The Lynx have recently went on a long losing streak (by their standards). What do you think happened to them?
Mechelle Voepel (3:57 PM)
It's not easy to be the hunted. It's a cliche, but it's true. The break actually may not be a bad thing for the Lynx. Three of their players go to the Olympics, and everybody else has some time to really think about the recent ups and downs of their season and come back mentally refreshed to take everybody's best shot in the second half of the season.
Genny (Western MA)
The U.S. Olympic team obviously has many amazing athletes, but might the coaching staff be having a little bit of second thoughts for not finding a spot for Becky Hammon four years ago? I am so impressed at how she always finds a way to excel, especially when people do not give her the respect she deserves.
Mechelle Voepel (3:59 PM)
I think Becky Hammon just got lost in the shuffle at some point, and now it looks like a worse decision by USA Basketball folks than it did years back when they were not giving Hammon real consideration. I'm not trying to apologize for USA Basketball, but I do think that Hammon has surprised a lot of folks who didn't disrespect her, but at the same time didn't realize the ways she would continue to grow her game and the immense heart she has to be successful. And how relatively healthy she would stay after that ACL injury in 2003.
The Silver Stars, Contenders or Pretenders?
Mechelle Voepel (4:00 PM)
Contenders. See, I can answer some questions in less than 5 minutes. :)
kevin (macon ga)
The Journal of Labor Economics published a study showing that women who participate in sports as teenagers have healthier babies than those who don't, even when the babies are born years later. Is that a surprising conclusion?
Mechelle Voepel (4:01 PM)
No, not surprising, because I would think it follows that if women were healthier as teen-agers (which sports participation would suggest) than the chances are they'll be healthier later in life as they have children.
Mechelle Voepel (4:02 PM)
There is no down side to all kids - girls and boys - participating in sports, so long as they find the right sport and enjoy it. That's probably the ultimate thing to take away from that.
The Mystics vs. Shock is a game I was interested in seeing just to see the Mystics up close and how they are run. I feel the Mystics organization was where the Shock were last year except the leaders listened and made changes for the better for the Shock. I truly believe our president and owners care about the Shock and I commend them for the changes of firing Nolan and at least hiring Coach Kloppenburg to create a sense of unity. However, someone could write a book on the Mystics alone (I recommend you write a book on the Mystics sometime). I saw the frustration by Monique Currie with the flagarant one on Glory and then Matee's technical. I sense that is just pure frustration. Remember a yr ago the Shock did the same thing. Hopefully, someone will listen to their fans on Olympic break. As for the Shock, I see them doing better at least on terms of believing and they could have easily won 6 or 7 games now so the Shock are there.
Mechelle Voepel (4:04 PM)
The Mystics indeed would make an "interesting" book. :) I do think the Shock is on the right track. Let's see how it is a year from now.
Who is the bigger threat to the Lynx repeating as Western Conference Champions: Los Angeles or San Antonio?
Mechelle Voepel (4:07 PM)
I will say LA ... and it really didn't take me that long to answer. But suddenly, I heard this weird stuff - could it be rain? - falling on the roof and realized that I had the car windows down. So ... now they're up, and it will probably stop raining immediately.
How cool is it going to be having the Olympic tennis final on center court at Wimbledon? Serena's for the taking!
Mechelle Voepel (4:10 PM)
I'll be interested to see how the Wimbledon grass looks for the Olympics... heck we've never seen it in late July/early August. Speaking of rain, they might want to just go ahead and close the roof now at Wimbledon and just keep it closed.
Which team do you think will benefit the most after the Olympics when they get the international players back?
Mechelle Voepel (4:12 PM)
Well, you have to figure, of course, that the Storm can't wait to get Lauren Jackson back. :)
You gonna be coming over to join us in London for the Olympics, Mechelle?
Mechelle Voepel (4:17 PM)
No, I won't be in London. ESPN.com will have other folks there covering the Olympics in general. Actually, you won't hear much from me starting next week until closer to the medal games at the Olympics. Vacation time. Thanks for all the questions. Chat with you again in August.
Mechelle Voepel (4:18 PM)
I'll be watching the Games, but will be trying to stay away from the keyboard a bit. :)