Ask Nancy: May 15, 2007

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

Hi, Nanc! I'm a big fan of yours! Keep up the good work. What teams, in your opinion, realistically, have a shot at the title this year? I am pulling for my girl DT3 and Phoenix! If they can/will defend and rebound, then they have a great shot. Thanks!
-J.C., Rayville, La.

Hi, J.C. I think, realistically, Detroit has a chance to repeat. They're a very talented team. Indiana made all the right moves in the offseason. And never count out Connecticut in the East. The Monarchs in the West came within a solid game of winning another championship last year. Those are the teams at the top of the pack. There's another level of teams just below that potentially could (go all the way). But those other teams have to play remarkably well on both sides of the ball to win.

What team in the league do you think is going to be the most improved?
-Kayla, Lamar, Mo.

I think I San Antonio will be the most improved. San Antonio and Chicago (will be up there)… I'm picking San Antonio to be a playoff team, but I think Chicago will have more wins and will show definite improvement.

Nancy, what are your thoughts on the L.A. Sparks this season playing without Lisa Leslie, but with a very strong group of players. Do you believe this is Mique's year to win a championship or do they have to have Lisa to get that done?
P.S. You're a great commentator!
-Sparksaddict, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Certainly you'd have a better chance to win a championship if you have Lisa Leslie! But the fact that they brought in Taj McWilliams-Franklin… that's no small feat. That was just a brilliant move by Penny Toler. You bring in a veteran All-Star-level player who knows how to win who can be a mentor? She's no Lisa Leslie, but it's pretty darned close. This is certainly Holdsclaw's opportunity to lift her game and her teammates to another level. And she's also just coming off winning the Polish championship with Wisla, so she's experienced winning again, which she probably hadn't done since she was at Tennessee.

Hey Nancy, I was wondering what steps you had to take as a teenager to become a professional athlete? What does it take?
-Megan, N.H.

It takes passion. It takes dedication. It takes knowing what you want and pursuing that goal and dream. And it takes risk and reward. As a kid, I feel like I risked a lot. I gave up a lot of parties and movies and proms and graduations to obtain my personal athletic goals. If you think the path is easy, pick another profession. Anybody can be a doctor. Anybody can be a lawyer. Anybody can be a social worker. Not everyone can be a professional athlete. The numbers back that up. You have to apply yourself. You have to be good and you have to be lucky and it's an interesting combination.

Hi Nancy, I'm a fan of the Houston Comets and there was a big controversy among some of our fans about the selection of Ashley Shields. I have to admit that I never heard of her, but I read her story and I'm willing to give her a chance! Do you have any knowledge about her that you can share?
-Robin, Houston

First, I'm a fan of yours for writing. And I'm going to give your question a chance. Like anybody else, Shields deserves a chance to prove whether or not she can make it. The coaching staff -- after what I'm sure was long deliberation and watching film and interviews -- felt like she was a player who could come in and help. That said, the Comets are a team with three legitimate stars - Swoopes, Thompson and Snow. And their big question is in the backcourt. It's anybody's guess who's going to step up and play well. It could be Ashley Shields, it could be anybody. It's a great opportunity for someone to come in and win a job or get a lot of playing time. Staley retires, Canty's gone via free agency, what else do you have?

Honestly, it will be an adventure in Houston. New coach, new leadership and several new players (in the backcourt). They're certainly rebuilding, but hang in there, Robin! There are going to be some days that are kind of crazy, but there's going to be a lot of growth. And if you're really a fan, you're going to have to hang in there with your team.

Hello, Nancy! Do you think having more feminine looking uniforms, like the ones the Australian Opals wear, would be a good idea for the WNBA, as far as pulling in the casual fan?
-Kenny, Cleveland

Now you're starting to scare me! No! I want to make that clear in English, Spanish, even Australian! No! Do not bring those uniforms to my country! (Laughs.) The new adidas uniforms are fabulous and I don't want anybody to mess with them. They're the nicest uniforms we've had to date. So the answer is no! NO! (Laughs.)

Why in the world is everybody downing Washington?!?!?! We are a great team and we are going to show y'all. We are not the "Mystakes," we're the Mystics, OK?
-Tearsterboo, Lanham, Md.

That's news to me. I haven't heard anybody call you the Mystakes… at least since we put it on the scoreboard in Detroit when you guys came out for your shoot-around. Somebody forgot to take it off the scoreboard, and it read "Shock versus Mystakes."

Anyway, I have the Mystics making the playoffs, so I'm not sure where you get the impression that anyone is 'downing' Washington. I like your team. Richie (Adubato) is an incredible coach, you have a lot of talent, and if someone is speaking negatively about your team, maybe they're the mistakes! … I'm having a sarcastic day.

Hi, Ms. Lieberman! I personally think you and Kara Lawson are the best women's broadcasters around! I'm a Minnesota Lynx and UC Santa-Barbara women's basketball fan! What do you think of the WNBA's eight-team playoff format? I think it's too short, and the season's too short for the teams that don't make it. Will it ever change?
-L, Santa Barbara, Calif.

First of all, speaking on behalf of Kara Lawson, she and I are YOUR biggest fans. Eventually, in time, I believe that the season will get longer and the playoffs will get longer. We're still growing. It might sound crazy to say the WNBA is still growing in its 11th season, but we are. It's part of the process and we'll eventually get to the point where we want it to be. For now, enjoy the regular season and playoffs as they are. We've already gone from one and done for the championship in my first year to the best of three and now the best of five, so we are showing growth.


Check back next week for the latest edition of Ask Nancy, and feel free to submit your own questions for Nancy here.