By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
A guy who has watched West Virginia University men’s basketball for 65 years thinks Joe Mazzulla may be the toughest Mountaineer he’s ever seen.
“That’s quite a tribute,” said coach Bob Huggins who was within ear shot. “But I obviously haven’t been around here nearly that long.”
Huggins readily admitted, however, that the graduated fifth-year senior was truly a tough nut. Dozens of other opposing players also likely would agree.
“Joe led the team in charge-block situations this year,” WVU sports information director Bryan Messerly said. “But none of our coaches kept a chart (to record an accurate breakdown).”
Mazzulla, a left-handed player who performed at either guard position, is an excellent ball-handler with blazing quickness and speed. He throws his body around and is a sharp decision-maker.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of Johnston, R.I., won countless games by his fearless driving for the basket. He was willing to risk a charge call if it wasn’t a block.
If memory serves, Mazzulla was a major contributor in West Virginia’s victories against Duke and Kentucky in the 2009-10 season. Both of those triumphs have all-time greatness stamped on them.
That was en route to the NCAA Tournament Final Four that year. He was voted MVP of the East Regional.
In all, Joe played 145 games in his career as a Mountaineer — one less than Da’Sean Butler’s school-record 146. Mazzulla averaged 12.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while at WVU.
He also dished out 370 assists — 11th on the all-time list.
Mazzulla has a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary education and a master’s in athletic coaching education. He made the Big East Academic Team and also the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll.
Eventually, he wants to teach and coach. Huggins thinks Mazzulla has all he needs to be successful in his career.