Ask Nancy: July 19, 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 there, Nancy! What an exciting All-Star weekend in Washington! I had a great time and truly enjoyed the game on Sunday. What was your highlight of the whole weekend? The community events? The game? The parties?
-Megan, Dulles, Va.

Well, I had a great time, too. And the game was excellent. But my favorite part of the whole weekend, I think, was the Nike court refurbishment that a bunch of the All-Stars took part in at the Boys & Girls Club in Washington. To see them in such close contact with all of the kids there and then to see the teams actually practice on the court was just an amazing experience.

The other highlight for me was getting through the Dribble, Dish & Swish course in something like 37 seconds. I did really well. Deanna Nolan's got nothing on me! (Laughs.)

Do you think the Paul Westhead system of run-and-shoot with not much defense really works? All of the top teams in the league emphasize hard-nosed defense and rebounding to win games. Look at Detroit and Indiana and Sacramento. These teams win titles (not Indiana yet, but this is their year) because of their hard defense, not because they run and shoot as soon as the ball lands in their hands. You can't win a game on perimeter shooting and you can't win games when you let the opposing team snatch up all the rebounds. What do you think?
-Trevor, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Well, I've played for Paul Westhead and I have to say that as a player, it's a great system. It's fun, it's offensive-minded and it keeps you on your toes. But it's also very much based on the personnel you have on your roster. With some, the run-and-gun will work, but with others, it won't.

Let's face it, the Mercury are not the biggest team in the league. If they had Maria Stepanova or Kamila Vodichkova or Tangela Smith in years pastů a couple of ingredients they were missing, people would be applauding the run and gun. Then, and this year to a larger degree, they'd have the big in the middle to complement the up-tempo style of the perimeter players. It's not Ann Meyers' fault that Stepanova didn't come back. It's not Paul Westhead's fault that Vodichkova is pregnant. They're doing the best they can with as good personnel as they can get.

I'm not saying they can win the championship, but I think they can make the playoffs. This is going to sound overly simplified, but if they can put more points on the board than their opponents, they're going to win a lot of games. They played really well against Seattle on Tuesday. If they can hold teams below 80 points, they're gonna have a chance to win every night. The key is that they must hit shots, because if they do, they force you to play their style. They get beat when they're not making their shots.

People get so caught up in the hype of the show they put on out there, but they're better than you think. There's a lot of substance out there too.

Hello, Nancy! I was just wondering if you could put a starting team together with any five players in the league right now, which players would you pick? Thanks!
-Brian, Gridley, Ill.

Do I get to coach? Do I get a guaranteed contract? And do I get boo koo bucks? If the answers to these questions are yes, then I'll give you my five. I'll take Lauren Jackson, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi, Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford. I would put Nolan or Taurasi at the one and two. Catch could play the three. Cheryl and Lauren could play the four and five, switching off inside. I have rebounders, I have shooters, I have players who are relentless, I have athleticism and I've got attitude.

Now that we are guaranteed TV coverage through 2016, what would it take to get fair TV scheduling for all the teams? I am a Mystics fan who lives too far to go to the games. Just because they are at the bottom, doesn't mean I don't want to see them on TV. They were scheduled for about three games on TV, but Indiana, Detroit and Connecticut are on, it seems, every week.
-Peg, Baldwin, Md.

I think you should go to your councilperson in the District of Columbia and lobby for more TV games! Honestly, let's face it, at the start of the season, your Mystics didn't deserve much coverage. Now, you're starting to play good basketball, but everyone wants to see their team on TV more often. And there is only a certain number of games to go around. And for a league trying to grab more fringe fans, it makes more sense to show off the stars, so you'll see Lauren Jackson, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi on TV. That's the nature of the business.

Hey, Nancy. OK, enough time has passed and I have to say it. Chamique Holdsclaw ruined the 2007 Sparks. I never want to go after a warrior, but I never saw Chamique's fire. I feel like she's doused her reputation and I'm angry. After she limped her way thru two seasons of spotty performances for the Sparks and didn't do anything in the postseason, 2007 begins and we hear she's healthy. She played pretty well for five games then walked away without even waving. Boom, her teammates are left stunned and without a clue. She's a big talent, but a bigger mess. I'd enjoy your take on this.
P.S.: If you ever make it to STAPLES for a Sparks game, I'd love to say hello and shake your hand.
-Kent, Los Angeles

First of all, I think you're a bigger mess than Chamique Holdsclaw. How dare you attack somebody for doing what they think is the right thing in their heart? Who are you to judge Chamique Holdsclaw for all of the time, effort and love she has put into this game? Maybe she was flat-out burnt out and didn't love or enjoy it anymore. Maybe she just tried playing this season for the fans and for her teammates and gave everything she had until she had nothing more to give. Who are you to judge what's in somebody else's heart? I'm disappointed that you won't let this woman, a woman who gave her soul to basketball, walk away with some dignity. She deserves that.

Do you think the Lynx will get off to a better start after All-Star weekend? Do they have a chance without Lindsey Harding?
-Todd, Council Bluffs, Iowa

I love Lindsey Harding. I talked to her on the phone the other day and we were texting earlier today, and she owes me an appearance at my basketball camp next summer. She's just an incredible kid. She's so important to the Lynx, but she's maybe more important to the future of USA Basketball.

That said, I think the Lynx can rally without her. They played really well against Connecticut on Tuesday. They're young, but they're talented and they have a terrific coach in Don Zierden. They're still trying to find their way defensively, but they have the offensive firepower. If they can believe in and trust each other defensively and cut down on turnovers, I think they can be a very competitive group.

I would like to ask for your advice. I would like to improve my dribbling skills (because I have a serious problem with controlling the ball with my left hand) and my shooting skills. I'm totally lost.
-Zeineb, Rabat, Morocco

As far as working on your left hand, the most important thing I can tell you to do is USE IT! Brush your teeth with it, pick up the phone with it, do everything you can to become more comfortable with that hand that you rarely use. Involve it in everyday living. Beyond that, write me at my website at NancyLieberman.com. I'd be happy to work through that with you and share whatever skills and drills that can help you.