Ask Nancy: 2006 Season Preview Edition

Basketball Hall-of-Famer and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman answers your questions and emails throughout the year. Click here to submit a question of your own.

Who do you believe has the best chance of taking it all this year and who do you think the best regular season team will be. Do you see the team with the best regular season record translating their game to the post season?
-Chris, Scottsdale, AZ

A: "Well I have Detroit winning the East and Sacramento winning the West. That is by virtue of experience, veterans, young players and offseason acquisitions. I think that Sacramento didn't hurt themselves after winning a championship. They had the 13th and 14th pick in the Draft and the only big loss they had was Chelsea Newton. With the Draft, they brought in Kim Smith and Scholanda Hoston, a terrific defender, so I just think they didn't lose much and may have gotten better. Then with Detroit, Swin Cash is healthy, Katie Smith is 15 pounds lighter, they bring back Kedra Holland-Corn and there's no reason for me to think that they can't be a better basketball team than they were a year ago. With Kara Braxton, Ruth Riley, Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson, who has better post depth than Detroit? They're big, strong, experienced and they get after you. I love everything about their game. The only thing they need is chemistry. Talent doesn't always win. But they have skill and talent. When they won the championship, they were considered young upstarts. Well, they're not young upstarts anymore."

Nancy... some predictions. My rookie of the year pick is Monique Currie, Sheryl Swoopes as Defensive Player of the Year and my MVP is Lisa Leslie. What do you think? Do I have a future as an analyst? Regards,
-Paula, Kent, OH

A: "I have Tamika Catchings as my Defensive Player of the Year and potentially this year as my MVP. She's been at the top for the past two years, and although I really like Monique Currie, I think that she and Seimon Augustus are going to battle it out. I think Seimone is going to get a lot of touches in Minnesota, but I like the fact that Monique has already come in and taken control. She's putting up some shots, and I think that's awesome."

Hey Nancy! WOW! I am so happy that Shona T. and Kim S. got picked in the 1st round! My question do you think Kim is going to do with the Monarchs? Will they use her? Also, do you think Thorburn, Augustis, and Anderson will work together? Hey, I got to watch for my Utes! I love it!
-Laura K., Salt Lake City, Utah

A: "Both of them are very good young players and they're only going to get better as they get time on the court. They will get a feel for what Suzie McConnell Serio and Coach Whis want, so I expect them to get a lot of playing time. I expect their coaches will let them play through their useful mistakes, and they've got great veterans around them."

Hi Nancy! I love your analysis of the game! You are absolutely terrific for women's basketball of all levels.
I wanted to get your opinion about the Silver Stars. With the three great draft picks that they got and the offseason acquisitions, how do you think San Antonio will do this season?
-Jackie, Pipe Creek, TX

A: Okay, I really like San Antonio a lot, but the one thing I don't like about predictions is that it means putting teams down. I'm not doing that with them at all. This is a much-improved team. Shanna Zolman was one of the steals of the draft and between her and Sophia Young, they get an A+ in the draft. Now you get LaToya Thomas back, you get Kendra Wecker back and acquire Vickie Johnson. I love their team. My only question about them is how quickly they can get the pieces of this puzzle together. So where I pick them is of no direct correlation to how good I think they are. I think they are probably going to be a lot better than where I pick them. I think they are going to be dramatically better than what anybody is saying."

What players and teams are you looking for to have breakout or improved seasons? Thanks and looking forward to seeing you on TV this season.
-Bonnie, Sacramento, CA

A: "I think Indiana will be much-improved. Indiana is almost like a total makeover. It's like having a pretty girl and making her gorgeous. They were already good, winning 21 games last year, and I just like everything about the moves that they made. They brought in Anna DeForge, Charlotte Smith, Olympia Scott and Tamika Whitmore. Although I think they are going to end up playing post by committee, it's going to be production, the total production of their bigs. As for Tully Bevilaqua, there's no stat sheet for her. She just gets it done. She's an incredible teammate. I think it's going to be more difficult to guard Catchings than ever because if you put Anna on Catch's side of the floor, it's pick your poison. Anna's going to knock down shots. She's All-Star quality. I think that Catch is going to be thrilled. I watched them play the Sparks the other day and they have shooters everywhere. Tully can hit the three, Catch opens the floor for them, Charlotte Smith can shoot the three, Whitmore can shoot the three, Tan White has improved her outside game and they're a really nice team with a wonderful coach. I really do expect them to challenge for the East, at the top with the Sun and Detroit."

Ms.Lieberman, My name is Jacob and I'm doing a report on you for my English class. I have reaserched a lot of things on you and I admire & respect all of your talents. But, I have not found an answer to my question.To date what has been your greatest basketball accomplishment? Thank you for taking the time to answer this for me. Sincerly a fan!
-Jacob, Valdosta, GA

A: "I think it has to be either the two national championships at Old Dominion, or winning the Olympics, because it was the first Olympics for women's basketball in history. There will never be that first team, and it was pretty cool to be a part of it."

I love Deanna Nolan. She is my favorite player. I was wondering, when all is said and done, will she end up having a Hall-of-Fame career? How close is she to becoming the best player in league?
-Brittany, Louisville, KY

A: "Deanna Nolan... we know she's an exceptional player already. Time will be her greatest ally. To be a Hall-of-Famer, you can't be just good. You have to be consistent, and consistency is a function of time. So only she will be able to answer that question. She's so young and she's really good, and she plays on a wonderful team where she gets a lot of support. She's getting better every year. Plus she's expanding her game, they've played her a little bit at the one, she plays the two, she's got everything."

Nancy, As a spoiled Liberty fan who got used to the Final appearances, do you see the rebuilding effort in New York taking a long period of time. What do you think of their young talent?
-Martin, Sumnerville, N.J.

A: "I'm a great admirer of the foundation of the Liberty and what Carol Blazekowski built from the ground up. They're one of the most storied franchises in WNBA history. They and Houston set standards by which everyone else will be measured when this thing started. Do I think they have work to do? Yes. Do I think they will be a tireless, working team and people will emerge? Yeah, I do. It's nice to have Becky Hammon, a legitimate superstar, but they also have young people who are going to have an opportunity to make a name for themselves and step up. For those younger players, this is your opportunity. Are you going to seize the moment or not? I think Coach Coyle is excited. She thinks this is a team that she can teach. If you don't look at it as a negative, it's a chance for her to go back and do what she does best. She and Marianne will have a young group. The real question is about their post. Is it Kraayeveld? I don't know who's it going to be. But we are going to have an opportunity to find out who wants that position. It's up for grabs. Ashley Battle will also get a chance to play because she's tenacious. This is a good stick for her. I also think Shameka Christon has got to lift her game. This is her chance to average more than three or five points a game. I think she has to get double figures for them and improve on her rebounding, and it's a wonderful opportunity."

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