Ask Nancy: Q/A with Nancy Lieberman

Every few weeks during the offseason, Basketball Hall-of-Famer and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman will answer your questions and emails. Click here to submit a question of your own.


Do you see one or two players emerging as stars from the Class of 2005 that we should keep an eye on for the Draft?
-Meg (Swanee, MT)

A: "Well, yes. I think some of the kids who will be coming out have yet to get the exposure that they deserve or could have gotten because the last class had such tremendous exposure, but there is tremendous talent in this class. To mention a few, I really like Kendra Wecker and Janel McCarville. I think Tan White is going to be excellent as will Temeka Johnson. I just like what they have to offer and like how they handle themselves on the court. And there is a slew more including Loree Moore and Tanisha Wright. There are some really good kids out there that people are going to find out about."

Dear Nancy, I was just wondering if you know of any post players that Phoenix is looking to get? Thanks a lot!
-Ebony (Galloway, NJ)

A: "If I'm Phoenix, I'm looking at Sandora Irvin in the Draft. She's a little bit more skilled than Ashley Robinson and runs the floor well. She also does some of the same things in terms of blocking shots. I really like her game and her development, especially on the offensive end. They can also take a flyer on a player like Sancho Lyttle. She's a nice player as well. Of course, with the third pick, I'd take McCarville if she is still there."

Dear Ms. Lieberman, I wanted to say I enjoy your commentary during the WNBA and NCAA seasons. Being from San Antonio, I am a die hard Silver Stars fan. At times, as you've seen, they have had their share of on court problems. What do you feel it would take for them to turn it around and at least contend for a playoff berth? Thanks for your time.
-Brett (San Antonio, TX)

A: "I think the Silver Stars have tremendous talent. I thought they were going to be a playoff team a year ago, but their chemistry wasn't where they wanted it to be. I still think losing Natalie Williams was a bad move for the franchise, but that is just my opinion. I wish that they would be able to find a legitimate post player as well. LaToya Thomas, as good as she is, is a 3/4 player and is moving her game away from the basket more and more. They could also use a player like McCarville. But chemistry has been their primary issue. And since Candy Harvey left, they haven't found any consistency with respect to coaching, either."

Hello, Nancy! I noticed that many foreign players on WNBA rosters in 2003 skipped the 2004 WNBA season to prepare for the Olympics with their national teams. I wonder if they are still affiliated with their respective WNBA franchises and will they return to those teams in 2005?
-Anittah (Seattle, WA)

A: "Yes, they are still with their teams. They were just put on a suspended list. I would imagine, for the most part, that those players would want to come back and play in the WNBA."

Hi Nancy, I have a question to ask you. What do you think it will take for the Houston Comets to win the championship this year? I mean they have Thompson,Swoopes,Snow...why cant they seem to pull it off, when they have some amazing players?
-Debbie (Pittsburg, CA)

A: "They are amazing players, but over time, other teams have become just as amazing. These teams use the formula that Houston did to become four-time champions. The Comets of a few season ago had a great inside-outside game and one of the best perimeters in the world with Cynthia Cooper and Janeth Arcain. Of course Thompson and Swoopes there as well. In my opinion, it will be a while before Houston wins another championship. Can they compete? Can they be consistent? They will have to prove that, but they will not do it unless they get a point guard."

Hey Nancy - I am a Dallas Fury fan in the NWBL and enjoyed watching your team win the championship last year. Congrats! During that time, Sheila Lambert (Houston) sparked my interest. I saw the game in her when she played in Dallas but she seemed to be on a leash in Houston. What can we expect from her in the future?
-Marquetta, (Dallas TX)

A: "Only Van Chancellor can answer that question. I like Sheila. I knew I could work with her and, quite frankly, I do not think we would have won the championship without her. With her, there is a lot of risk/reward. You have to be able to communicate with her on a certain level and it is just as important how you communicate with her. She is going to make mistakes, but you have to hope that the good plays outweigh the bad plays. But I like her game and more experience will help her flourish."

Thanks for inspiring people (not just women!), old and young, Nancy. :) If you were coach of the Monarchs, what moves would you make in the off-season to help improve the team's success?
-D (Sacramento, CA)

A: "First let me say that I really like John Whisenant and like the talent he has on his team. He is an excellent coach and that is a great franchise. The Maloofs are "off the chain" and I like everything about them. They have passion, they are young, they appreciate skill and they are supportive. All that said, it will not get you to where you need to be unless you have a shooter. They need someone who can put the ball in a basket - maybe a player like Kelly Mazzante or Anna DeForge. That is the kind of player that would really benefit that basketball team. They are so logjammed at the 3/4 positions, that maybe they can package somebody. With Yolanda Griffith, Chantelle Anderson, Tangela Smith, DeMya Walker, Rebekkah Brunson, why not just choose three? They are really good, but pick three and be happy."

What was it like to play in the WNBA? Is it more fun or more competitive?
-Mailwoman (Merrillville, IN)

A: "The first year was very fun because it was pure and no one played for money, commercials or status. It was so unified and we were so happy to be playing. The players on those eight inaugural teams were selfless because all they cared about was kicking it off right. It has gotten more competitive because there is more at stake. More money, more opportunity, more fame. In 1997, nobody knew who some of the marquee players were. They knew Lynette Woodard, Sheryl Swoopes, Nancy Lieberman, Rebecca Lobo and Cheryl Miller, but we were out there selling our product. To be part of the first year of a league was very unusual. The way everyone rallied around the league was pretty neat. That's not to say they don't do that today, because they do, but it's so darn competitive. Everyone is better, and there is more money, more endorsements, more TV shows, more movies you can be in. This is a business and it means we are growing."

Dear Nancy, Now that some time has passed, any idea who will replace Val Ackerman? Thanks, love watching you.
-Bonnie (Saginaw, MI)

A: "No, I personally think it has to be a business person. You can get a high profile female athlete or former player like myself, Ann Meyers or Lynette Woodard, but we are not intimately connected in the business world. We might do business, but I think that they need someone who can run a business. I think Billie Jean King would be an awesome commissioner. I think Sue Wellington, formerly of Gatorade, would be unbelievable. Someone like Donna Lopiano (the Executive Director of the Women�s Sports Foundation) would also be a good choice. Someone of that magnitude who can be very strong, yet understands basketball. Val had it all and it will VERY hard to replace her. She played the game, she has a legal background, she was passionate about it and she was a businessperson. She had so many of the ingrediants you have to have in that position. The next WNBA President needs to have the qualities of David Stern and Val Ackerman. I would love to see David Stern do the job in a wig. He has a tremendous voice in this game."