ORLANDO, Fla. -- Van Chancellor doesn't believe his three WNBA All-Star coaching appearances have anything to do with his skill with Xs and Os.
Instead, Chancellor insists he's just going where his four-time league champion Houston Comets take him. In this case, it's to the TD Waterhouse Centre for Monday night's All-Star game.
''It's the case of a coach riding the coattails of a lot of great players,'' Chancellor said Sunday, the day before he was to lead the Western Conference. ''What got me the All-Star job was Cynthia (Cooper) and Sheryl (Swoopes) and all of them -- players.''
New York Liberty coach Richie Adubato, who will direct the Eastern squad, said his counterpart is just being modest. Adubato noted that Chancellor is without the retired Cooper and the injured Swoops, yet Houston's record is 14-4, good for second in the league.
''He's got them right up as a contender, fighting for the Western Conference,'' Adubato said.
But again, Chancellor was more than willing to deflect the credit. While he acknowledged the loss of two All-Stars, he noted that he has two others in Tina Thompson, a three-time selection, and Janeth Arcain, who will be making her All-Star debut.
''Thompson and Arcain have been playing unbelievable,'' said Chancellor, who has a career record of 112-28. ''I didn't know where we were going to get our scoring from, but they've been generating enough scoring for us to win.''
Thompson, the WNBA's second-leading scorer with a 22.6 average, said much of Chancellor's success stems from his willingness to be a ''players' coach.''
''Coach Chancellor is very open to change and he'll listen to the opinions of his players,'' Thompson said. ''When you coach to fit your players instead of fitting players into your system, it definitely helps in bringing out their individuality.''
During Sunday's practice sessions, Chancellor brought a loose style to the floor. While Adubato immediately went to work teaching his team a motion offense, Chancellor's squad was laughing, with centers tossing up 3-pointers.
''I just throw the ball out there and let it roll,'' Chancellor said. ''(Rookie) Jackie Stiles asked me what we going to do. I said, 'Stiles, play ball.' It's pretty simple.''
However, Chancellor made sure to point out that he's in Orlando to collect his third All-Star victory.
''Don't misunderstand me. I want to play to win,'' Chancellor said. ''But I think you've got to have some fun.''
This is the fourth straight time Chancellor and Adubato have battled on one of the WNBA's biggest stages. Adubato also coached the East All-Stars last season, and the Comets and Liberty met in the finals in 1999 and 2000.
''Van always has the height,'' Adubato mused. ''Every time we play, it seems like I'm giving up 4 or 5 inches, or there's five bigs to my two bigs.''
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