More of Mazzulla

After a long redshirt season filled with time sitting on the bench recuperating and reflecting, WVU junior point guard Joe Mazzulla feels like he brings a broader repertoire to the team than he did previously.

The Johnston, R.I., native returns to the West Virginia lineup after sustaining a shoulder injury early last season that ultimately required surgery. Mazzulla received a medical waiver for 2008 and still has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

The point guard's time away from the game gave him the chance to work on one of the biggest weaknesses in his game -- jump-shooting.

"It's no secret -- it's something I've been battling since I got here," Mazzulla said of his shot. "I've really been concentrating since I got cleared in the offseason on making shots, having confidence and shooting with a purpose."

That process involved spending time working with assistant coach Billy Hahn, reviewing film of his own shot and watching his teammates shoot from the sidelines.

The exhaustive retooling of his technique resulted in the 6-foot-2, 200 pound guard spending extra time working on his balance and focusing on proper placement and extension of his guide hand.

Mazzulla said that while he is making shots with greater regularity, he can more clearly see the improvement when he misses his shots.

"I kind of miss straight on," he said. "I don't miss left or right anymore because my balance is much better than it used to be."

"It feels a lot smoother. It's always good to look at things from a different perspective. I had a long time to look at my shot as well as other people's shots from a sideline perspective. It's helped my shot for the better."

Of course, being able to actually hoist the number of shots it takes to truly refine a technique was not a simple task for Mazzulla at first. As he had to work to regain the strength in his repaired shoulder, he limited the number of attempts he could take each day.

The junior said when he was first cleared to start shooting, he could take 100 shots a day. He added 10 attempts to that total each day before finally working up to 500 shots -- a number that, once reached, meant he had enough strength to fire as many shots as he wanted to.

Mazzulla said that his shoulder is "back to normal" and "100 percent." While those concerns are largely behind him, he is still trying to work his way into playing shape in terms of conditioning.

"I need a little bit more time to get used to the game speed on the court," he said. "My first step is not as quick as it was last year, but that will just come with time. I'm really not too worried about it."

"I was a little gassed in the beginning (of practice), but I'm adapting. I'll get used to it as practices go on."

While there is still work to be done for Mazzulla as he attempts to get back into the rhythm of playing major college basketball, he said that any mental concerns about the health of his shoulder were answered early in WVU's practice sessions.

As the guard played defense during a live-action drill alongside freshman Deniz Kilicli, the latter unwittingly set Mazzulla up for a hard collision with an offensive player.

"He doesn't like to talk much," Mazzulla said of his teammate, who failed to inform him that he was about to be screened on the play. "I got leveled with a screen on my left shoulder."

"If I was afraid to play, now I'm not because I got hit and I'm fine. Everything is good."

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories