The Times West Virginian

Sports

March 24, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Turk pulls no punches in interview

MORGANTOWN — Toward the end of West Virginia University’s disappointing men’s basketball season, he was a sad figure, this beaten-down senior who was Deniz Kilicli.

Normally gregarious and outgoing, he became somewhat withdrawn, reluctant to speak, once even walking out on one post-game interview after answering one question, saying, “I can’t find anything positive to say after all these games this year.”

At that time, he put it this way:

“It’s been rough on everybody. Personally, it’s been rough on me. I’m not healthy, you know? I’m not healthy. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat.”

Those, though, were the symptoms.

He wasn’t telling anyone that what was causing them was a diseased locker room, a team gone bad.

The results you saw on the floor during a 13-17 season were not nearly as bad as what you didn’t see.

Once it was over, as Kilicli returned to Beckley, which was where Bob Huggins found him after he had left his native Turkey to try and land at an American college, he felt free to open up, doing so to the local Beckley television station WOAY.

“Now the season is over and I can talk about this actually. I didn’t want to before,” he said.

And talk he did.

While he did not name names, he said he played with a couple of “prima donnas,” that he was playing with people who “didn’t want to win,” that practices deteriorated into shouting matches with players quitting and that players actually wound up laughing at what coach Bob Huggins had to say.

He began by talking about how spoiled he had been, how he had never had a losing season, how he had won 33 games in a row as a youth one year, then repeated it the next.

“I always played for people who were like Huggs, really serious about their wins and losses. They wanted to get better. At the same time they would get the players that had the edge, who were rough, who grew up rough. They knew what hard was,” he said.

“This year was a little different. We had a couple of prima donnas. That’s really upsetting for me.”

That, of course, had gone all season without being said, although Huggins hinted it over and over again as he grew more and more frustrated, holding players who had figured to be his better players out of games for long periods of time.

“The whole year was frustration,” Kilicli said. “If I wanted to describe the whole season it was frustration because even if you are doing good, you are going down with the ship.”

Huggins could not reach his team, according to Kilicli.

“As we moved on in the season, Huggs gets way more upset with stuff and practices started to become people yelling at each other, people quitting. It was really rough for me,” Kilicli said. “I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people didn’t want to win.”

In the past, Kilicli indicated, Huggins’ inspirational stories were taken to heart by the teams Kilicli played on.

“When Huggs was talking about the coal miners who wanted to watch the Final Four so much they would put TVs down in the tunnels so they could watch it at work, our eyes would tear up,” Kilicli said, referring to one of Huggins’ well-known stories. “This year, when he would talk to us and tell us a story like that, a heart-felt story, guys would make fun of it.”

It obviously got to Huggins, who could not get through to his team.

It got to Kilicli, too.

“He taught me a lot of things, but I feel embarrassed to play the way we did because the people in this state don’t deserve that. They deserve effort and a lot of times most of the kids didn’t give that,” he said.

“That is a huge character problem with a lot of the guys,” he said.

“This year we could have done better. Those guys are as talented as the guys on the Final Four team, but some of them will never be at the same level of basketball that Devin Ebanks is or KJ (Kevin Jones) is or Da’Sean (Butler) was.”

Then he made his most cutting remark, one that really carries weight.

“Anybody who likes playing basketball, I hope they never play with those guys because it takes a lot out of you,” he said.

Put another way, he would not wish them on anyone.

“To make a long story short, last year was a huge embarrassment for me, but I learned a lot of things. I put the jersey on for four years. It really makes me proud to be able to wear the jersey with West Virginia across my chest. I’m honored I was able to do that for four years,” he said.

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