The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 5, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: Kilicli still trying to untap game

MORGANTOWN — He is the center of attraction now, this giant of a man named Deniz Kilicli, which should really be nothing new.

Ever since he walked on the campus at West Virginia University from Istanbul, Turkey, by way of Mountain State University, he has been the center of attention, standing 6-feet, 9-inches tall, his weight surpassing 230, heavily tattooed, muscular, bearded, a sensitive tough guy who played the guitar in local clubs and, of course, a Mountaineer basketball player.

But on the court he was a complementary figure, playing in the shadow of Da’Sean Butler, then Kevin Jones.

This was to be his year. With Butler having moved from player to coach, with Jones off to the NBA, this was to be his team. He was the leader, the go-to guy, and he seemed perfectly capable of handling it.

Then they began playing, and it turned out something seemed lacking in his game, that it hadn’t grown into the go-to game coach Bob Huggins had pictured. Last year he had averaged 10.7 points a game, and that was supposed to grow into the 17 or 19 or so that the Mountaineers got from Jones.

Instead he averages 9.4 points a game, and his participation is down by four minutes a game, in part due to foul trouble.

During an interview in preparation for tonight’s Capital Classic showdown with Marshall, Huggins was asked his theory on why Kilicli’s production had not grown as expected.

“He’s the focus of the defense now and wasn’t before,” Huggins answered. “They worry about guarding him close to the basket. Before they worried about guarding K.J. Now he is the focal point of what to stop.”

And it’s working. The reason it is working, according to Huggins, is because Kilicli has not done what’s necessary to counter the attention he’s getting.

“Quite frankly, Deniz doesn’t use everything he has,” Huggins said. “Hopefully that has sunk in with him.”

And just what hasn’t Kilicli integrated into his game?

“He does have a right hand,” Huggins said. While Kilicli does shoot his hook shot mostly left-handed, he says because he has more range, he shoots his other shots right-handed and actually is right-handed in life.

“He used it terrific in practice the last couple of weeks,” Huggins continued. “What’s more, he is capable of backing out and making jump shots.”

He just doesn’t do it, and teams have noticed that and actually back far off him in 3-point range, daring him to shoot the 3. Why doesn’t he?

“He likes to stay in the game,” Huggins answered, drawing a laugh but being somewhat serious. “Why would you want him shooting a 3 early in the shot clock? Look at numbers; there’s a reason.”

Kilicli understands what Huggins is talking about, that his inside game and hook shot have become the first priority of teams to stop.

He, however, sees that as a positive, not a negative.

“That’s a good thing,” he said. “I like to pass the ball. Whenever I’m doubled, I like to find guys. Last year I loved it every time they doubled me because I could find Truck (Bryant) or someone else, and they make shots and get us going.”

He used last year’s game against Miami as an example.

“The Miami game, they decided to double me in the middle of the game. That’s the game Truck scored 30 or 35. It opens up a lot of things for other people.”

In reality, Bryant scored 27 points, but you get the point. Miami did.

The problem is that this is more of a patchwork team with two transfer starters in Aaric Murray and point guard Juwan Staten, and it is a team that hasn’t worked enough with each other yet for Kilicli to act instinctually.

“Last year I knew where Truck was going to be, where K.J. was, and where they liked to shoot. If you get that going, and I think it’s coming, things will get better,” Kilicli said. “The thing is they have to know me better and I have to know them better so I know where they are without looking at them.”

That will come, but it is going to take time, and WVU is going into a part of its schedule that could make or break the season with games against Marshall (4-3), a strong Virginia Tech team (7-0), at Duquesne (4-3) and in Brooklyn against John Beilein’s No. 3-ranked Michigan team (7-0).

And some of it falls back on Staten, the point guard, too, because he is new to the team and not sure where Kilicli will be or what he likes to shoot.

“Juwan is learning,” Huggins said. “It’s different in practice and in the game. He’s learning who is supposed to come open, what the progression is. He is not near what he’s going to be.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads