2002 Record
10-22, .312
(7th in East)

Points Scored
2071 (14th overall, 7th in East)
Points Allowed
2140 (9th overall, 6th in East)
Scoring Differential
-2.2 (12th overall, 7th in East)

Offensive Efficiency
96.8 (10th overall, 6th in East)
Defensive Efficiency
100.0 (12th overall, 6th in East)
Possessions per 40 min)
65.5 (16th overall, 8th in East)
What are these stats?

Award Winners & Honorees
Penny Taylor

2002 Draft Recap
Rd. 1 – 8, Deanna Jackson
Rd. 2 – 24, Brandi McCain
Rd. 2 – 31, Angie Welle
Rd. 4 – 63, Marché Strickland

Playoff History
Three out of six years
Last Appearance
2001, lost in first round

2002 In Review: What Went Right?

Penny Taylor continued her rapid improvement earning a place on the Eastern Conference All-Star team at the age of 21. She led the Rockers in scoring (13.0) and averaged 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.23 steals while hitting 34.2 percent of her three-point field goal attempts.

Chasity Melvin enjoyed her best season as a pro, setting career highs in scoring (12.5), rebounding (6.1) and minutes played (33.0).

Ann Wauters continued to stake her claim as one of the best young centers in the game setting career highs in scoring (11.2) and rebounding (5.0) while hitting 55.3 percent of her field goal attempts and 85.1 percent of her free throw attempts.

What Went Wrong?

Starting point guard Helen Darling missed the entire year after giving birth to triplets in the offseason. Back-up Jennifer Rizzotti missed six games in the middle of the season with a sprained right ankle, and although she performed admirably, besting Darling’s scoring output from a year ago, her 85 assists were the second lowest team-leading total in the league. Second-round draft pick Brandi McCain also struggled in her rookie campaign backing up Rizzotti hitting just 29.1 percent of her field goal attempts and posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.21.

In 2001, Cleveland’s defense set numerous league records allowing opponents to score a microscopic 55.9 points per game, while shooting 38.1 percent from the field. In 2002, the Rockers permitted 66.9 points per game, and allowed the opposition to connect on 43.5 percent of its field goal attempts. They went from being the most efficient defense in the league to the 5th least efficient.

Rushia Brown and Merlakia Jones both saw significant drops in their offensive production. Brown’s scoring average fell from 8.3 to 4.0, and her field goal percentage dropped from 51.8 percent to 40.0 percent. Jones field goal percentage declined for the second consecutive season from 47.4 in 2000 to 43.8 in 2001 to 39.9 a year ago.

Head Coach Dan Hughes

2002 Starting Line-up
G Jennifer Rizzotti
G Merlakia Jones
C Ann Wauters
F Penny Taylor
F Chasity Melvin-Taylor

Key 2002 Reserves
F Rushia Brown
F Mery Andrade
G Brandi McCain

Looking Ahead To 2003

Key Questions

Can the Rockers recapture the defensive intensity for which they became known during the 2001 season? Their defense that season was the best the WNBA has ever seen, so a complete return to form probably isn’t possible. But the Rockers can’t endure another season where they give up 67 points per game and expect to win.

Can Jones and Brown bounce back from sub-par seasons? Jones was an All-WNBA, First-Team performer in 2001, and Rushia Brown gave Cleveland a consistent if not necessarily spectacular effort in 2000 and 2001. Although a great deal of Cleveland’s problems last year were on the defensive end of the floor, the team’s offense could use a healthy boost from these two players.

Will Darling return to her 2001 form? Coach Dan Hughes substituted Darling and Rizzotti masterfully during Cleveland’s regular season Eastern Conference championship run, but couldn’t recreate that magic sans Darling in 2002. A healthy and in-shape Darling will help the Rockers point guard issues.