The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 13, 2009

WVU men upend Coppin State

MORGANTOWN — There are two faces of Joe Mazzulla.

One was visible at the Coliseum Saturday night as No. 6 West Virginia’s shut-down defensive specialist, a high-energy, sometimes snarling, sometimes taunting, always daunting force that changed the course of the game with Coppin State.

The other will be visible at the Coliseum today, but it will be a calmer, more tranquil smiling Joe Mazzulla, one whose accomplishments will far exceed what he did to help West Virginia earn a 69-43 victory before 10,121 fans.

Today, three and a half years after enrolling at WVU, Mazzulla will trade his old gold and blue uniform in for a cap and gown as he receives a degree in multidisciplinary studies with as diverse a set of minors as you can put together, business, Spanish and exercise philosophy.

Mazzulla, with a year of eligibility in basketball still ahead of him after being granted a medical redshirt last year when he fractured the growth plate in his left shoulder, will begin work on a master’s degree in athletic coaching.

Certainly, it was a weekend for Mazzulla to remember, his father, David, and mother, LaTresa, in attendance at both the basketball game and the graduation.

“My relationship with my dad comes out when I play,” Mazzulla said, noting that his father coached him “a little in middle school” and implanted in him the fiery style that characterizes his basketball.

While most fans left the Coliseum marveling at the play of forward Kevin Jones, who each game seems to add a new dimension to an already multidimensional game, this time scoring a team-leading 22 points and grabbing off 11 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, for his second career double-double, it was Mazzulla who lit the Mountaineers’ wick.

You must go back to the moment Mazzulla came off the bench. The Mountaineers trailed, 11-9, with 12:24 left in a slow-motion half, one in which Coppin State was trying to hold the ball and where their guard, Lenny Young, was abusing West Virginia and amusing his teammates.

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