Reinventing the Guard Position
Joe Mazulla and Darryl “Truck” Bryant are about to usher in a new era of guard play at West Virginia University.
After a season that saw players adapting to a new, rougher style of play, the only thing on the agenda for next year is to match that same attitude and then some.
Expect them to play like Huggins’ old Cincinnati teams, with more emphasis on driving and taking things into their own hands if the options are scarce. They may not match the scoring ability of a player like Darris Nichols. He was unique because he loved to shoot the three and manage fancy turnarounds whenever he got the chance.
My theory is that both Mazulla and Bryant will end up scoring less than ten points a game on the year, but what they’ll offer offensively and defensively will eclipse past teams.
It’s hard to say how these two particular players will react to the new three-point line. Chances are it won’t affect Alex Ruoff’s game, since many of his threes have been from well beyond the line.
Bryant is still a question mark in this arena. Mazulla made two desperately needed three-pointers at Pitt this year, and without his exceptional guard play we would’ve lost by a lot more than one point. He’s proven that he can do a little bit of everything. Now he has to show that he can do it consistently, as a leading man.
Bryant, from what recruiting videos I’ve seen online, seems like an above average jump shooter, and with his girth and muscle already outshining that of a Nichols, he shouldn’t have trouble driving to the basket and coming up big in close game situations. He’s definitely more akin to J.D. Collins, and I’m hoping that he has the same overall tenacity.
On the other end, it’s hard to say if Mazulla has seen his best days or not. Nichols relished the opportunity to start during his junior season, and he was primed for the occasion.
By all indications, it seems like Mazulla may be more prepared than most of the players. This past season he slimmed down a little bit and got quicker after recovering from a knee injury that plagued his freshman season. No one knew what he was capable of then, but anyone who saw the Duke game knows that this kid has developed a taste for blood.
With one more season of experience, he could be one of the premier point guards in the league, with Bryant not too far behind.
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