Van Chancellor Called Upon To Lead U.S. At 2004 Olympic Games

June 10, 2003

Press Conference Transcript

Four-time WNBA championship head coach Van Chancellor of the Houston Comets, who in 2002 piloted the United States to a gold medal and an unblemished 9-0 record at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, was announced on June 10 by USA Basketball as the 2004 U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball Team head coach. The selection of Chancellor, who will lead the U.S. in its defense of its 2000 Olympic title at the 2004 Olympic Games, was made by the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Executive Committee and U.S. Olympic Committee.

The XXVIII Olympic Games will feature national teams from 12 nations competing Aug. 13-29 in Athens, Greece. Since the inception of Olympic women's basketball competition in 1976, the U.S. has rolled up a 34-3 record; earned a record four golds (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000), one silver (1976) and one bronze medal (1992); and has a current winning streak of 17-0 dating back to the 1992 Olympic bronze medal contest.

"Anytime you're selected to represent your country, especially in the Olympics, is the biggest honor a coach can have," said Chancellor. "I am so honored and am really looking forward to working again with some of the most talented players we have in this country. I'd just like to thank the (USA Basketball) Executive Committee for this honor.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the World Championship experience I had will be invaluable next summer," continued Chancellor. "As a coach, I know more about what our players can do as a team, I know what they're capable of, and I also know what the opponents are capable of. I think that the Worlds gives you invaluable experience leading into the Olympics."

"Van Chancellor knows what it takes to win at both the national and international level, a fact he has proven time and time again," said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. "As the head coach of USA Basketball's gold medal winning 2002 World Championship Team, I cannot think of a better, more experienced candidate to lead our women in their pursuit of gold in Athens in 2004."

"Coach Chancellor did an outstanding job coaching our 2002 World Championship team and winning the gold medal in China," said USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee chair Renee' Brown, Vice President of Player Personnel for the WNBA. "Our selection committee is very confident in coach Chancellor and believes he will do an excellent job at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens."

With his Olympic coaching selection, Chancellor joins an elite eight-member circle of U.S. Women's Olympic Team all-time coaches, which include 1976 silver medalist Billie Jean Moore (then with Cal State Fullerton), 1980 Olympic head coach Sue Gunter (then with Stephen F. Austin, Texas), 1984 gold medalist Pat Head Summitt (Tennessee), 1988 gold medalist Kay Yow (North Carolina State), 1992 bronze medalist Theresa Grentz (then with Rutgers), 1996 gold medalist Tara VanDerveer (USA Basketball/Stanford) and 2000 gold medalist Nell Fortner (then with USA Basketball).

Chancellor, who was named the 2002 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year for his efforts, guided the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championship in China. Rolling through preliminary first and second round play with a 6-0 record and earning a trip to the medal round, the USA squad surpassed Spain 94-55 in the quarterfinals before dismantling Australia 71-56 in the medal semifinals. Facing Russia for a second time at the World Championship, the United States survived a late rally to take a 79-74 victory and the gold medal.

Prior to the tip-off of the World Championship, Chancellor had one practice with the entire 12-member team to get the squad prepared for the Australia-hosted Opals World Challenge. Facing three of the then top five teams in the world, Australia, Brazil and France, the United States took top honors with a 4-0 record.

Chancellor also spent a month in the spring of 2002 assessing U.S. team members and hopefuls in a four-city training camp which helped determine the final USA squad. As part of the March 19 - April 9 training camp held in Houston and San Antonio, Texas; followed by a stint in New York and finally Colorado Springs, Colo., home to USA Basketball; the USA National Team defeated the WBCA College All-Star Team 100-59 during the women's NCAA Final Four in San Antonio.

After spending 19 successful seasons (1978-79 to 1996-97) at the helm of the University of Mississippi, Chancellor entered the professional coaching ranks in 1997 and immediately made an impact in the WNBA's inaugural season. After guiding his 1997 Houston Comets squad to the first WNBA title, Chancellor strung together three more WNBA championships with Houston, creating what many have tabbed as the league's first dynasty.

In six years Chancellor has guided the Comets to an overall regular season record of 141-45 (.758 winning percentage) and a 17-7 win-loss record in the playoffs (.708 winning percentage). Chancellor has collected a trio of WNBA Coach of the Year honors (1997, 1998, 1999) and served as the head coach for the WNBA All-Star Game West Team three times (1999, 2000, 2001). Furthermore, Chancellor was head coach for the 1998 WNBA Touring Team that toured Brazil following the WNBA's second season.

After spearheading his squads to four consecutive WNBA crowns, Chancellor prior to the 2001 season lost his top two players, a pair of Olympic gold medalists who provided almost half the Comets' scoring in 2000. Four-time WNBA championship MVP and two-time league MVP Cynthia Cooper retired following the 2000 season and Sheryl Swoopes, the 2000 WNBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to the start of the 2001 Houston Comets' pre-season training camp. Despite these losses, Chancellor led the 2001 Comets to a 19-13 record and a spot in the 2001 WNBA Playoffs. In 2002 the Comets posted a 28-4 record and earned their sixth consecutive playoff berth.

During his tenure with the Comets Chancellor has coached many talented elite athletes, including two-time U.S. Olympians Cooper (1988, 1992) and Swoopes (1996, 2000), 1992 U.S. Olympian Tammy Jackson, as well as Olympians Janeth Arcain (1992, 1996, 2000) of Brazil, Elena Shakirova (1992, 1996, 2000) of Russia and Catarina Pollini (1992, 1996) of Italy.

Also a proven collegiate success, Chancellor spent 19 seasons as the head coach at Ole Miss where he posted a 439-154 overall record (.740 winning percentage) and advanced his teams to 14 NCAA Tournaments. Chancellor's 14 NCAA appearances were highlighted by four Elite Eight (1985, 1986, 1989, 1992) and three Sweet Sixteen (1987, 1988, 1990) finishes.

Inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on June 9, 2001, Chancellor was named the 1992 National Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball News Service and was also honored as the Southeastern Conference Coach of theYear three times (1987, 1990, 1992). The winningest coach in Ole Miss women's basketball history, Chancellor coached a pair of sisters who went on to represent USA Basketball in international competition, including 1988 U.S. Olympic and 2002 World Championship gold medalist Jennifer Gillom and 1998 USA World Championship assistant coach Peggie Gillom.

USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee
The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee which selected Chancellor, consists of nine members and a non-voting chair. Brown serves as chair of the Committee, which includes New York Liberty Senior Vice President and General Manager Carol Blazejowski; Indiana Fever Chief Operating Officer Kelly Krauskopf; Washington Mystics General Manager Melissa McFerrin; Sacramento Monarchs General Manager Jerry Reynolds; Phoenix Mercury Vice President of Operations Seth Sulka; Los Angeles Sparks General Manager Penny Toler; and VanDerveer. Serving as athlete representatives are Dawn Staley, 1996 and 2000 Olympic and 1998 World Championship gold medal winner; and Lynette Woodard, a 1984 Olympic and 1990 World Championship gold medalist.




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