Johnston resident and Bishop Hendrickson product Justin Mazzulla became an Iron Man this season for the men’s basketball team at George Washington University.
After playing 17.1 minutes per contest as a freshman, he saw action in 33.5 minutes per contest this season and averaged 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a sophomore guard for the Colonials.
“I feel like I have grown with confidence,” he said. “I have always had the ability to do what I am doing.”
He was part of the conference tournament for the second time as the Atlantic 10 Conference was held here at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Last year it was held at Capital One Arena in Washington, just a few miles from the GWU campus.
“I kind of know what to expect. As a freshman you don’t know what to expect,” Mazzulla said. “You have a lot of things happening” off the court.
The Colonials beat UMass on March 13 in the first day of the conference tourney, despite a rough outing by Mazzulla. He was one of 10 from the field and five of six from the foul line for seven points. But he had nine rebounds and two assists.
That set up a meeting with nearby rival George Mason of Virginia. GW was 12th in regular-season play in the 14-team Atlantic 10. “Our approach is one game at a time, one play at a time,” the Rhode Island resident said before facing No. 5 seed Mason. “That (poor season) is not going to shape our future.”
The teams just met on March 9 as Mason won over GW. “We know what to expect,” Mazzulla said. “We know what do to win, not what to do to lose. We will see what happens.”
Against Mason on March 14 he played 38 of 40 minutes and was four of nine from the field and had 10 points with five rebounds and four assists. GW lost 61-57 then Mason was knocked out of the field the next by Saint Bonaventure. The Bonnies were upset in the conference tourney title contest on Sunday by Saint Louis, the No. 6 seed.
The Colonials against Mason were without leading scorer DJ Williams, who suffered a head injury in the previous game against UMass.
“I personally didn’t know until I got on the floor and saw he wasn’t playing. As a team that didn’t change how we were playing,” said A.J. Wilson, a key reserve for George Mason.
Just hours after GW was knocked out of the conference tourney, and ended the year with a record of 9-24, the school announced that head coach Maurice Joseph had been relived off his duties. In three years the former assistant and interim head coach from Canada was 44-57 at the school.
“This is a difficult day because Maurice has led this program with high integrity and has always been a great representative of George Washington University. He has been a part of our staff for eight seasons, earning a degree and meeting his wife, Kristen, a fellow GW graduate here. We hope they will always feel like a part of our family,” GW athletic director Tanya Vogel said in a statement.
“This decision was necessary because we are not reaching our full potential on the court. Our university leadership and I have high expectations for what this program can achieve in the near future. We will move forward with a national search for our new head coach who will help us get back to competing for Atlantic 10 Championships and being in the conversation for NCAA bids on a regular basis,” she added.
Mazzulla could not be reached for comment about the coaching change.
So what are his plans for the summer with basketball? “I am not really focused on that. I just have to face tomorrow,” he said before GW met George Mason.
NBC Sports Washington reported Monday that former Georgetown head coach John Thompson III is a candidate to be the new coach at GW, though other candidates were named as well. Thompson is the son of John Thompson Jr., the Hall of Famer who also coached Hoyas.
Editor’s note: Free-lance writer David Driver has covered college basketball in the D.C. region for 30 years and can be reached at davidsdriver.com and