Basketball Hall-of-Famer and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman answers your questions and emails throughout the WNBA season. Click here to submit a question of your own.
Hello, Ms. Lieberman. First off, we all think you're one of the best analysts out there for any sport. Thanks for bringing poise, knowledge and beauty to the broadcasting role. My question is about the Seattle Storm as they have been inconsistent on the road all season. Why is that? Is it really that much harder to focus on the road? Do teams get that intimidated by visiting arena's crowds?
-Kevin, Peekskill, N.Y.
A: First, thank you for your kind words about me. It's not just Seattle. It's all teams. It takes a different kind of focus and concentration to play on the road. Sometimes, the schedule plays a part in how teams perform on the road. However, some teams play well on the road. Some people like that there aren't any distractions like friends, family and tickets. So, it becomes an individual thing for teams... how they handle the situations.
But despite what Seattle has done on the road, they still equaled their record of a year ago and I think they're still playing their best basketball right now. Considering that you took a championship team, lost two starters and a sixth man with one of the best players in the world coming off major ankle surgery, I think it's been a fantastic year for Seattle.
Hi Nancy, I can't wait to see who will be on the Chicago team. I was wondering the process of picking the players for a new team. Do you know how long before they start selecting players? I wish you were a part of the plan in Chicago. Thanks in advance for your time.
- John, Chicago, IL
A: Thank you so much, but I think Chicago's going to be in very good hands with Dave Cowens and whomever he picks as his assistants. I think that's a very, very vital market for the WNBA, and it's so important for us and our growth. Each team will be able to protect six players, and Chicago can choose from the players that are left unprotected. Hopefully, they will do their homework on the players that are out there. The sixth, seventh and eighth players from other teams will end up as their core. That said, there are a lot of really good players that come off the bench and could be starters in this league. So I think that they're going to get some experienced players, and I think they're going to get some good kids coming out of the rookie draft as well. It's a very deep draft.
The Connecticut Sun have been dominant at times this season, obviously. Do you think their having home court will put them over the top? If any team matches up well with them, it's the Shock - big up front, good guard play. Do you anticipate any fireworks in this series like we had during the regular season?
-Teanna, Cromwell, CT
A: I think that Detroit feels very comfortable playing against Connecticut, obviously. They feel that they have a lot of matchups in their favor. Playing against a team like Detroit that rebounds extremely well and has great perimeter quickness, it does become a tough matchup. Home court is important, but in the best-of-three, there is so much pressure on Game 1. The key to the series is always Game 1. If you're Connecticut and you go to Detroit and can't get Game 1, just think of all the pressure they you have now, even though you worked all year for home-court advantage. You don't seem to be rewarded for that work.
Tamika Catchings may not win the MVP, but she has been the most valuable player to her team this season, by far. Do you think she gets overlooked because she plays here in a smaller town, as opposed to a New York or Los Angeles? Thanks and enjoy the playoffs!
-Wayne, South Bend, IN
A: First, let me say that I'm a huge fan of what Catch has done throughout her career and of the person she is, but we slightly disagree. I think that Tully Bevilaqua is the MVP this year of the Indiana Fever, but that Tamika is the best player by far. She will always be an MVP candidate in my mind because she does so much in so many areas. This is a really good year for Indiana to try to win a championship. They have it all: experience, rebounding, defense, slashers, a smart point guard, one of the best players in the world in Catchings, and a great coach.
Sure Temeka, Kara and Tan are all talented rookies, but what about Katie Feenstra of the San Antonio Silver Stars? At the start of the WNBA season, she averaged less minutes than yours and Ann Meyers' picks, and yet she is currently #1 in 8 of the rookie categories, #2 in 5 categories and #3 in 3 categories. She has only recently started for SA - none of the other rookies are starters! So she lags in 3-pointers and assists - remember she is a center! Diana Taurasi was last years ROY - and Phoenix didn't have a break out year. It's not always about wins and losses! Remember, it's "Rookie of the Year" and not "Rookie of the Year on a Team with a winning record."
-Cathy, San Antonio, TX
A: I think that Katie Feenstra gave everybody a show of how good she is and how good she will be. Let's face it, she played at Liberty. She wasn't playing in the toughest conference in America. She made her team at Liberty a really good basketball team. So allow us time to see if she can do the same thing against the greatest players in women's basketball. She proved that she can be a very dominant force. She's very skilled. I don't think that anybody has said that Katie is not a good basketball player. We, like you the fan, just needed to see how good she could be. It was a very tough year for San Antonio, with injuries and everything. In Taurasi's rookie year, Phoenix was still challenging for the playoffs. Unfortunately, San Antonio was never in the playoff mix this year. I think that she is a tremendous rookie and that her stats and her game developed. There's no doubt in my mind that she's No. 2. I still think that Temeka Johnson is the right choice for Rookie of the Year.
Even though they had an amazing record and season, I still feel like the Monarchs are being overlooked in the playoffs by fans and experts alike. What do the Monarchs need to do to earn more respect? Thanks.
-Ben G., Pinole, CA
A: They just need to win. It's like they've played LA four times, and last year was the first time that they beat them. It's not about what the fans think or what the media thinks. That's the fun part, the hype. It's about producing, and I think this is the type of team this year which can continue to produce. I like everything about their basketball team.
Hi Nancy, I truly enjoy your analysis and insight of the WNBA!! My question is -would you agree that the New York Liberty would be a bit more successful if they designed more plays for their All-Star Becky Hammon? Would you agree that when she is scoring she opens up opportunities for all of the other players? She is a natural scorer and it seems that nowadays she seems to have to work harder to find shots. Thanks.
-Ely, Dallas, TX
A: I agree that Becky has to be an impact player in the offense for the Liberty. Early in the season, she was forced to play the point because of the injury to Loree Moore in training camp. Becky's a natural two. But I think as the season progressed, Becky has become more confident and has a better understanding of where her shots are going to come from in the offense. She's reading how teams are defender her better. All that said, I think Becky has to score points for New York to win, especially with Ann Wauters out.
Dear Nancy, If you were coaching the Comets, would you start Dawn Staley or do you think she better serves Houston coming off the bench? I'm torn.
-Shayna, Atlanta, GA
A: Dominique Canty has had a very solid season. I think you keep her there, and then you bring Dawn in if 'Nique is not playing well out of the box. They have two very distinct styles. 'Nique is a slasher, gets to the basket, knows how to use her body. Dawn is more of a perimeter threat, certainly knows how to run an offense, and has more experience. So, I think he's got the best of both worlds, and if they're both playing well, you can play 'Nique at the 2 and Dawn at the 1.
Hey Nancy! I'm a basketball player living in Utah. Here, there is not that many opportunities for girls in basketball until high school.
What do you think I should do? I LOVE the WNBA! Peace,
-Laura K., Salt Lake City, UT
A: The best thing is to just play. Try to get on teams or get with coaches that can help with your fundamentals and expand your game. You can dream about the WNBA, but you really have to put in your work and build the foundation for your success early. I would go to as many basketball camps that teach fundamentals as possible. I would make sure that I was playing as much one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three as possible. Play against people that are better than you. Make sure that you're still skilling and drilling.
Thank you all for the great questions!