Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NCAA Tournament heroes Korie Lucious and Joe Mazzulla both get arrested

The end of August in college towns only means one thing -- the students are back. And if you harken back on your days as a collegian, I think you'll remember some pretty legendary nights during those first days back at school.

No one has home work yet and many finally feel the freedom that comes with being released from a summer in your parents house. You head to a party, the booze is flowing, you're with all your friends, you see that cute blonde you had such a crush on. Basketball players aren't immune to it just because everyone knows who they are.

But they aren't immune from suffering the consequences when they aren't responsible after they put a few away, either.

Take Korie Lucious, for example. At 2:20 am, on Monday morning, Lucious was arrested for drinking and driving. He blew a 0.09. The legal limit in Michigan is 0.08, which means that Lucious' crime in and of itself is not horrific. He wasn't driving blacked out; he simply had one beer too many. It seems as if he was at least attempting to be responsible. I'm not justifying what he did, but, well, I guess I am downplaying it a little. There's a difference between slapping someone in the face and hitting them over the head with a baseball bat, just like there's a difference between blowing a .20 and a .09 when you are pulled over for a DUI.

Korie Lucious hit the game-winner against Maryland in the 2nd round.
(photo credit: NY Post)

The bigger issue is that Lucious doesn't turn 21 until November 5th, which completely changes the context of the charges. Not only was he driving over the legal limit, but he was driving over the legal limit as a 20 year old. That's a much different story.

Lucious was given a ticket for Operating While Intoxicated. Tom Izzo released a one sentence statement, simply saying "We're aware a ticket was issued, and we're still gathering information." According to the Detroit Free Press, "Lucious posted bond of $200 and has 10 days to be arraigned in East Lansing’s 54-B District Court."

And then there is Joe Mazzulla and Dalton Pepper from West Virginia. Both Mazzulla and Pepper were issued citations for urinating in public in downtown Morgantown on Saturday.

For Pepper, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal. He will likely face a fine, a (stern) warning from Bob Huggins not to mess up again, and will almost assuredly get himself into shape with the sprints he is going to be forced to complete.

It will be a little different for Mazzulla. This is the third time the feisty point guard has had a run in with the law since he has been a Mountaineer, and all three times have seemingly involved drinking. Two years ago, Mazzulla was arrested when he and Cam Thoroughman got into a scuffle with some off duty cops at a Pittsburgh Pirates game. Last April, Mazzulla was arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman in a Morgantown bar. He was suspended for much of the summer before finally being reinstated to the team in early September.

Joe Mazzulla had 17 points against in Kentucky in the Elite 8 to send WVU to the Final Four.
(photo credit: AP)

Public urination is one of the pettier offenses someone can commit. Every single male that has ever set foot in a bar has peed between cars, or down an alley, or on a tree, or in a bush, or somewhere else that is wildly inappropriate during a night out. It happens. And if you happen to get caught, you have to suck it up, pay the fine, and pay more attention to where the cops are when you decide to whip it out.

But for someone with Mazzulla's prior arrests, the punishment will likely be more severe. Huggy Bear certainly can't be pleased that the kid that is supposed to be his team's senior leader now has as many alcohol-related offenses as he does years of eligibility used.

Huggins released a statement saying that he is aware of the incident and that it will be handled internally.

Mazzulla, Pepper, and Lucious are college kids. They made the same mistakes that so many college kids around the country do every single weekend of the school year. Do they deserve to be punished? Absolutely.

But let's keep it all in perspective.

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