Joe Mazzulla’s recent return to his fine form of old could not have been more timely for the West Virginia basketball team.
With Darryl “Truck” Bryant sidelined by a possible season-ending fractured foot, the veteran Mazzulla has been seeing more action at the key point guard position. He believes he’s capable of playing 30 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound graduate student from Johnston, R.I., said his left shoulder on which he underwent surgery last year is no longer bothering him.
“Yes, I think it is back to 100 percent,” he admitted last week. “Now it’s just a matter of continuing to get treatments. The shoulder is stronger now.”
Mazzulla admittedly feels more comfortable and more confident in helping the Mountaineers go far in the NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers have been on a record-breaking binge.
“I think Joe probably is getting ready to play as well as he has played since he’s been hurt,” coach Bob Huggins said. “He’s healthier now and his confidence is a lot better.
“He couldn’t do anything at the beginning of the year, and he only played six games last year. He’s just now getting to feel really good.”
Huggins noted the shoulder surgery was a “complicated” procedure.
Mazzulla came off the bench in 34 games this season. He averaged only 14.9 minutes, made 23 of 60 shots from the field and 29 of 52 free throws, and logged 61 rebounds, 78 assists and 19 steals.
For 100 career games, the outstanding player averaged 14.8 minutes per outing, made 17 of 59 field goal attempts, and cashed 153 of 238 free throws for a total of 420 points. He also had 212 rebounds, 221 assists, two blocked shots and 71 steals.
Mazzulla played for coach John Beilein as a freshman, then was coached by Huggins two seasons and just a part of his junior year. He has started seven games.