Ask Nancy: August 24, 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.


What is up, Nancy? Unorthodox question for you: Imagine eight different scenarios in which each team in the playoffs wins this year's WNBA title. For each team, who do you see as being the Finals MVP if their team wins?
-Sally, Bangor, Maine

Wow, an eight-part question! You're testing me! It's impossible to say because I have no idea how the series will all play out, but I'll play along.

For Seattle, I'll go with Lauren Jackson. For Phoenix, I'll say Penny Taylor. Becky Hammon for San Antonio. Rebekkah Brunson for Sacramento. From New York, it would have to be Janel McCarville. For Indiana, I'll go with a sleeper, Tan White. For Detroit, I'll say Katie Smith. And for Connecticut, I think it would be Katie Douglas.

That's a great question, but it's the last eight-parter I'll be answering today. I'm cutting you off, Sally! You're banned!

Hi Nancy! I just watched your classic '80s movie, Perfect Profile and was wondering if you had any desire to make a sequel. I'm also wondering… what is up with the not being able to eat tomato products after that head injury, therefore no pizza, but him giving you tomato soup? Where was Detroit trainer Laura Ramus when you needed her?! But back to the WNBA, what do you think about Bill Laimbeer being Coach of the Year?
-D, Indiana

Oh my goodness. That is the reference of the decade! Well done.

I did the movie because I was young and needed the money, OK?

Honestly, I'm really sorry you have a copy of Perfect Profile. There are so many good movies out there… And I don't think even Laura Ramus could have saved me.

Back to the playoffs, I think Bill is an absolutely amazing coach. People don't realize it -- like the old Pat Riley syndrome -- because he has really great players at his disposal. With all of the All-Stars and talent on that team, people take for granted what an excellent X's and O's guy Bill really is. He absolutely should be considered for Coach of the Year. The Shock dominated for stretches of the season and he deserves more credit for that.

Why don't the Monarchs get the respect they deserve? We are a shining example of what a "TEAM" really is. People think that without one really superstar, we are nothing. But we're a team to be reckoned with. Don't you think?
-Becky, Roseville, Calif.

I think the Monarchs are one of the most respected teams in the WNBA. They've been to the Finals two years in a row, they won a championship in 2005, they have great players, they have veteran leadership and they have a fabulous coach in Jenny Boucek. People might worry that they're not a tremendously high scoring team, but everybody dotes on their hallmark White-Line Defense. Who doesn't respect Kara Lawson and Brunson and Nicole Powell and Ticha Penicheiro and Yolanda Griffith? I don't buy the lack of respect card. You don't even have to be a fan of the team to admire how they conduct themselves as people and leaders.

With respect to the playoffs, I think they have a chance to get out of the first round because they're great at taking away the opposing team's strengths. Because of their defense, they rarely let games get out of hand. They always keep them manageable. Then, if they're playing well offensively, they have a legit chance to win. But I feel that Lawson and Powell must have double figures in scoring on the perimeter.

Hey Nancy, early on in the season I predicted the Liberty would be a .500 team and a playoff team. Now I'm picking them to "Shock" Detroit. What are their chances? I think the absence of Cheryl Ford would be a huge loss.
-Earl, Somerset, N.J.

There's no doubt that the Liberty have overachieved. Patty Coyle has always been a very, very good coach, but this might be the best coaching job she's ever done. Her team plays hard, they execute and they get after you defensively. The Liberty are young, they're energetic, they can score, they can run and they defend.

The one mark against them is youth. It's easy for people like me to say, "Well, they haven't been there before," but we honestly don't know how they're going to respond to the situation. They were 2-2 against Detroit this year, they won in the Motor City, two of the games went to overtime and every game was tight. So if New York wins Game 1 at home, they'll have a real shot. If they get that energy, that confidence, they'll be in it. But if they lose Friday at home, I think they'll get swept.

In your opinion, do you think if Ivory Latta was drafted by a team like Houston that needed a point guard or a team who just needed a backup point, rather than getting picked to be a fifth option for Detroit, that Latta would be vying for Rookie of the Year? From what I've seen, she steps on the court and adds energy and scoring, and the fans in Detroit apparently love her. Your thoughts?
-Kevin, Atlanta

I was very surprised that Houston didn't take Ivory Latta. They needed a point guard after losing Dawn Staley and Dominique Canty and after waiving Tamecka Dixon (before bringing her back halfway through the season). They decided to go after Ashley Shields, who had an up-and-down rookie year, but Latta seemed to me like a better fit for their backcourt.

Still, Ivory is going to play in this league and do well. And the more minutes she gets, the more she'll flourish. She's instant offense and will end up eventually being that starting guard. It could be a year from now, it could be several, but she's learning now from Hall of Famers.

With the playoffs about to start, home-court advantage is clearly very important. If you had to give a Sixth Man Award to one team's fans, which team would it be? I think the Seattle and Sacramento fans would be the frontrunners.
-Elishia, Miami

That's not a fair question because the fans in every city are important to their respective teams. Sure, Seattle and Sacramento tied for the best home-court record in the league this year at 12-5 (with fellow playoff squads Detroit, Indiana and Phoenix), so being at home in front of their local fans has probably helped these good teams. But it's impossible to pick the fans of one team over another, especially not having been at every arena every night. I'm just glad that the fans keep coming out, and I know that their excitement and noise really make a difference for the players.

Hey, Nancy! I've been following the WNBA before I even thought I liked basketball. I am really interested in what cities you think the WNBA can expand to. What do you think about Oklahoma? Maybe Milwaukee? Or back to a city where there used to be a team, like Cleveland? I also think Tennessee needs a team. What do you think?
-Spencer, Milwaukee

I think expansion would be fabulous for the game and for the league. It would create more jobs for the talented players out there.

But we have to expand wisely. The league would only do it if there are people in this location who will buy tickets and if there are sponsors there who will make it feasible to succeed in that community. It can't be an emotional, "Hey, let's up and go here." Yes, Tennessee loves the Lady Vols, but the league officials would have to dig deeper to figure out if a pro team would work there. I'm not saying it would or it wouldn't, but we don't know if they're capable of supporting another women's hoops team.

Expansion will be a part of the future of the league. The places you've heard about lately are maybe Denver, maybe Atlanta, maybe San Jose… I don't know. There are a lot of wonderful cities that would benefit from the WNBA.

I play on a JV school basketball team and the varsity coach -- and everyone else at the school -- thinks I should move up to varsity. Would you move up? Thanks for your reply.
-Shana, Hickory, N.C.

Yes, I would love to move up. I think I can still hack it at the varsity level. But your coach probably hasn't seen me play.

Seriously though, Shana, it really depends on how comfortable you are with the prospect of playing up and how competitive you would be at the next level. Some people like to play up against tougher competition in hopes of stretching their game, but some like to play in a comfort zone with kids their own age. I would suggest talking to the coaches of each team to see what they think and what kind of playing time you would get on the varsity squad. If there's little chance of getting time on the varsity, it will serve you better to play a lot on JV. But if you're going to get some time and learn and improve, moving up isn't a bad idea.

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