The Times West Virginian

Sports

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
Sports
  • Kicker sees second chances after gondola accident

    Maikon Bonani knows all about second chances.
    The native of Brazil is back with the Titans for a second year with the kicker job wide open for the taking, and he’s the only guy in training camp with any NFL experience if kicking in a preseason game counts.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steelers sign Suisham through 2018 season

    Shaun Suisham doesn’t seem to mind kicking at Heinz Field.

    August 1, 2014

  • A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win

    You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins

    He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.

    August 1, 2014

  • Post 17 makes short work of Wheeling to advance to nightcap

    Post 17 Fairmont scattered 16 hits and plated double-digit runs in a 10-2 rout of Post 1 Wheeling Friday afternoon at Hawley Field.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • Post 17 #18-Post 29 catche copy.jpg Post 17 picks up much-needed win over Elkins

    After a rather sloppy Area tournament, Post 17 Fairmont managed to turn things around Thursday afternoon at Hawley Field in Morgantown, staying alive with a 4-2 win over Elkins in the American Legion state baseball tournament.
    While it’s usually hitting that gets Fairmont by, Thursday it was the pitching and the defense.

    August 1, 2014 5 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz

    The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.
    It was between two legendary coaches, WVU’s Bobby Bowden and N.C. State’s Lou Holtz back there in the 1970s.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU basketball non-conference schedule released

    After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
    West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.

    August 1, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings