The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

January 15, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN- Justin Mazzulla following in his brother’s footsteps

MORGANTOWN — Joe Mazzulla was one of the finest point guards in West Virginia University’s men’s basketball program in many years during the 2007-11.

The highly productive, feisty, hard-working Rhode Island native now is an assistant men’s basketball coach at Fairmont State University. Apparently he likes West Virginia enough to stay.

Now comes word from friend Martha Smith, a Morgantown area native, that young Justin Mazzulla is following in his older brother’s footsteps.

Justin Mazzulla is already making a name for himself as a flashy freshman point guard at Hendricken High School in the Providence, R.I., area.

That’s the same school where Joe started as three-time All-Stater in what’s known as the area’s Interscholastic League’s for Rhode Island schoolboy athletes.

In a recent column about Justin Mazzulla, Providence Journal’s John Gillooly wrote:

“Now the little kid (Justin) who grew up shooting hoops at halftime of the Hendricken games where his big brother was leading the Hawks to three straight state titles has stepped right into the Hendricken starting lineup in his first year of high school competition.”

Here’s what Jamal Gomes, the school’s veteran head coach, had to say about the youngster:

“Right from the beginning, he stepped in and proved he belonged. His basketball IQ is tremendous. I said I’d never compare him to his brother.

“But one thing that you can’t help is how hard they play.”

Columnist John Gillooly observed, “But it’s not only the similarly intense style of play that has veteran Hendricken fans thinking about his big brother when they watch young Mazzulla play.”

Gillooly noted, “The lean body with the fluid movement the game geared more toward finding an open teammate than an open shot appears to be a family trademark.”

According to Coach Gomes, that’s what the high school teammates love about Justin Mazzulla. “He does more dishing off than shooting.”

The Providence sports writer thinks it has helped that Mazzulla has joined a young Hendricken basketball squad.

Gomes explained, “We’re young. With Justin, we’re starting a freshman and a sophomore. They are only going to get better. I think we have the potential to be a good team.”

Gillooly, the writer, said that the Hawks, with Mazzulla, certainly are doing more scoring than the school’s past teams since brother Joe departed to WVU.

“Right now we’re averaging 60 points per game,” Coach Gomes said. “The past few years, we averaged only 47 or 48 points per game.”

In addition to his play-making, young Mazzulla has helped boost the team’s impressive point-production with his own 9.5 ppg average.

Gillooly observed, “Like his older brother, he’s a good kid who likes to have the ball coming up the court and penetrating the defense.”

Doesn’t that remind WVU fans of Joe Mazzulla, a mighty Mountaineer guard of a few years ago?

At 6-foot-2½, young Mazzulla is about the same height as his brother was when Joe was playing for Hendricken, but the young brother’s body appears to be still growing.

He reportedly needs to work on his physical strength, according to Coach Gomes.

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Mickey Furfari
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