Two seasons ago, Duke suffered a second-round NCAA loss to West Virginia. Some of the Mountaineers later said they thought the Blue Devils were overrated, and near the end of the game, WVU guard Joe Mazzulla playfully got in a low defensive stance and slapped both palms to the court, mocking one of Duke's drills.
Now, the two teams are squaring off in the second national semifinal Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium, and Mazzulla was asked to recall his taunting gesture yesterday. "It was a spur of the moment thing," Mazzulla said. "You don't get a chance to play Duke that many times in your career. They're obviously a team with such great history and tradition. You get caught up in emotions."
Does he plan to repeat the gesture? With a smile, Mazzulla responded, "Depends on how the game goes."
Duke's players said the loss to West Virginia has no relevance to this game because they are a much different team now with a much bigger front line. Point guard Jon Scheyer said they remember some of the Mountaineers' comments, but he said, "We're really not using that as a payback-type thing. We want to beat a team that knocked us out. Who wouldn't? That's our approach."
Asked specifically about Mazzulla's floor-slapping gesture and the "overrated" comments and whether he was bothered, Scheyer said, "It doesn't bother me. For the most part, I think our team is not paying too much attention to the things they said afterwards."